A significant emergence during the early 20th century was the concept of fast foods. Various businesses offered relief from the stress of engaging in home cooking by providing meals at the convenience of buyers. One of the prominent entities that maximized this opportunity was the McDonald’s Corporation.
This fast-food restaurant operated based on fundamental principles – efficiency, standardization and predictability, calculability, and control. Although this seemed like a mere business model, thanks to its effectiveness, various research emerged into the notions.
It is in this light that George Ritzer, an American sociologist, in his 1993 publication, “The McDonaldization of Society,” discussed the theory of McDonaldization and how the core principles of the McDonald Corporation had affected other areas of the society.
In this light, this essay takes a cursory look at the theory of McDonaldization while also establishing its downside.
This theory is hinged on the concept of Mcdonaldization. Noteworthy, this concept involves the adoption of the characteristics of fast-food restaurants by society, institutions, and organizations. As such, the theory suggests how the principles that characterized fast-food restaurants have spread to dominate the functioning and processes of other sectors (Crossman, 2020).
Further, this theory is relevant under scientific management and rationalization, especially as a reconceptualization of Max Weber’s early postulation. Max Weber presented modern bureaucracy as defined by compartmentalized roles and knowledge, hierarchical roles, a system of advancement and employment based on merit, and the predominance of the rule of law (Crossman, 2020).
However, as a response, Ritzer postulated that the dynamics of science, culture, and economy have led to a social structure distinct from Weber’s conceptualization. Hence, unlike Weber’s focus on bureaucracy when conceptualizing organizational management, Ritzer presents the principles of fast-food restaurants as being at the core of the changing society (Crossman, 2020).
Prominently, this theory and its attendant principles have emerged as a core theory in the sociology of globalization. The principles at the core of this theory are efficiency, standardization and predictability, calculability, and control (Crossman, 2020).
Ritzer presented efficiency as one of the core principles of Mcdonaldization. According to Ritzer, it involves a managerial approach that focuses on reducing the amount of time that an individual requires to complete a task. Consequently, it consists of an approach that focuses on reducing the total time that an organization or institution requires to perform its production or distribution process (Crossman, 2020).
Conceptualizing this with the McDonald Corporation involves the fastest means to ensure clients go from being hungry to being satisfied. For instance, in modern times, this has now included home delivery (Crossman, 2020).
Hence, efficiency, under this theory, involves the process through which an organization works towards minimizing the time it requires to complete all its tasks. It focuses on identifying an optimal method, time wise, when accomplishing a task (Crossman, 2020).
Ritzer presented calculability as one of the core principles of Mcdonaldization. According to Ritzer, it involves a managerial approach that focuses on measurable and quantitative goals rather than qualitative and subjective goals. Consequently, Ritzer presents the notion that quantity is equivalent to quality (Crossman, 2020).
As such, efficiently delivering goods, that is, providing meals to the highest number of clients within the shortest period, is what quality entails. Precisely, this managerial approach requires that the focus is on sales, rather than taste (Crossman, 2020).
Ritzer presented standardization and predictability as one of the core principles of Mcdonaldization. According to Ritzer, this managerial approach involves the provision of uniform services, irrespective of location. Hence, it consists of a process that ensures that every interaction with an organization yields the same results (Crossman, 2020).
In turn, this is found in the routinized and repetitive production and delivery processes found in the organization. Precisely, through this routinized process, specialization occurs, and similar and standardized product or service delivery becomes guaranteed (Crossman, 2020).
Ritzer presented control as the last core principles of Mcdonaldization. According to Ritzer, this approach involves the concentration of power at the management level. In turn, this control ensures employees act in line with the other core principles (Crossman, 2020).
This principle also involves replacing human employees with technology and robots whenever possible (Crossman, 2020).
From the preceding, Ritzer identifies the working process of the McDonald Corporation then claims that it is not limited to work and the production process. Instead, it extends and affects other areas, if not all, of human social life (Crossman, 2020).
Precisely, this theory postulates that the principles above affect human values, goals, preferences, worldviews, social relationships, and identities. Even more, Ritzer and other socialist states that it is relevant at a global level as it is the basis of western corporations and Western cultural dominance life (Crossman, 2020).
Although the idea of McDonaldization remains attractive, it is not without its drawback and downside. According to Ritzer, the narrow and strict focus on rationality tends to produce irrationality (Crossman, 2020).
In this instance, the supposed rational systems turn out to be unreasonable. That is, they fail to recognize human capacity and reason. This is due to the rigidity that comes with the McDonaldization process (Crossman, 2020).
Even more, the principles pf McDonaldization tends to eliminate the need for skilled employees, sometimes with the use of technology and robots. This process also reduces and devalues labor while also taking away employees’ bargaining power (Crossman, 2020).
Consequently, this has led to the emergence of De-McDonaldization, which offers an alternative to the McDonaldization production and organizational model. These alternative models focus on quality rather than quantity, the employment of a skilled workforce, and unpredictability during product and service delivery (Crossman, 2020).
The theory of McDonaldization is evident in various aspects of life, such as in education. There has been a paradigm shift from qualitative measures to quantitative measures with efficiency and standardization playing a pivotal role. However, due to its drawbacks, today, various organizations continue to deny this theory’s rationalization.
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