Saturday, April 20, 2019

Summary: The McDonaldization of Society / Ritzer

The American sociologist George Ritzer has attracted wide attention with his concept of "the McDonaldization of society" (expounded in his book of the same names). In his book, Ritzer analyses the particular ways in which the success of the American hamburger chain has impacted upon not only economic patterns, but in particular on a multitude of facets of social life in general. Basing his analysis on Max Weber's theory of rationalization.
What in Ritzer's view is responsible for McDonalds' revolutionizing effect, is the fact that its model offers four "alluring dimensions" to producer and consumer alike, namely efficiency, calculability, predictability and control. Naturally all of these have led to beneficial and irreversible changes which are not to be denied. Equally undeniable, however, is the negative consequences: the ecological impact, the dehumanizing effect of ever more automation, and the inescapable mistaking of quantity for quality.
McDonald's revolutionising influence on the fast-food industry not only in America, but increasingly across the globe, has led to the establishment of dozens of clones in just about every branch of the retail industry and has led to other social institutions adapting McDonald's principles to their operations. The process by which these principles are coming to dominate more and more sectors of society, is perceived by Ritzer to extend to education, work, health care, travel, leisure, dieting and many more fields.
In essence, McDonaldization is the process of rationalization, albiet taken to extreme levels. Rationalization is a sociological term that simply means the substitution of logically consistent rules for traditional (or illogical) rules. One of the fundamental aspects of McDonaldization is that almost any task can (and should) be rationalized.
The process of McDonaldization takes a task and breaks it down into smaller tasks. This is repeated until all tasks have been broken down to the smallest possible level. The resulting tasks are then rationalized to find the single most efficient method for completing each task. All other methods are then deemed inefficient and discarded.
The result is an efficient, logical sequence of methods that can be completed the same way every time to produce the desired outcome. The outcome is predictable. All aspects of the process are easily controlled. Additionally, quantity (or calculability) becomes the measurement of good performance.
The process of McDonaldization can be summarized as the way in which "the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world.”  
            Since Mcdonalds standardization is a root cause of ritzer’s analogus comparison to society focus would be put on such practices after understanding the dimension of Mcdonaldization.

Dimensions of McDonaldization
Ritzer’s theory consists of four dimensions that are typical for fast food restaurants:

1.    Efficiency:

Always choosing the optimal and fastest way to accomplish something,
e.g. to make a burger. It is an advantage for the consumers who can get what they
need quickly and without effort.

Efficiency means the choosing of means to reach a specific end rapidly, with the least amount of cost or effort. The idea of efficiency is specific to the interests of the industry or business, but is typically advertised as a benefit to the customer. Examples are plentiful: the drive-up window, salad bars, fill your own cup, self-serve gasoline, ATM's, Voice Mail, microwave dinners and supermarkets (versus the old-time groceries where you gave your order to the grocer). The interesting element here is that the customer often ends up doing the work that previously was done for them. And the customer pays for the "privilege." We end up spending more time, being forced to learn new technologies, remember more numbers, and often pay higher prices in order for the business to operate more efficiently (maintain a higher profit margin).

2.    Calculability:

The idea that quantity is more important than quality. McDonald’s
equals quantity with quality and wants to make the impression that a large amount of food, prepared in a short amount of time, is the same as a high quality product. The costumer gets more food, but its quality and uniqueness are low.
Perhaps it is in its dimension of calculability that the character of the McDonald's model is best revealed. Exactly so many patties have to come from a pound of meat, the buns must be of a certain exact size and the patties again have to have a certain limited fat content so that, after being cooked, it will still have a larger diameter than the buns, the fries must be of a certain thickness and the bags must never be too full or too empty. It is easy to see how seemingly neutral measures, meant to ensure standardization, eventually lead to the reduction of the processes of production to a game of numbers. Even though this may not be too harmful in the case of hamburgers and fries, the spread of an attitude like this will in the case of the majority of industries of necessity lead to depersonalisation of both customers and workers. Another facet of calculability is the accent that is being put on size. In the case of McDonald's the very example is the Big Mac, but a multitude of examples can be gathered from just about every type of business, whether in America or elsewhere. This inevitably leads to quantity being mistaken for quality.

3. Predictability:

The consumer always knows what kind of service and product he will get, because taste of the burger and behavior of the workers towards customers are standardized worldwide.
Predictability is maybe the one dimension of the McDonald's setup that is most directly aimed at how it is perceived by its customers. It is imperative that the products must be the same everywhere, so that being in Moscow or Peking (or Johannesburg, for that matter) wouldn't be that big a problem if you get homesick: at least McDonald's would be the same as it is back home. Naturally this would preclude any possibility of cus- tomers expecting anything else than the standard McDonald's fare (in any case, why should they?) and, more important, of any McDonald's employee showing a tendency towards innovation or initiative.

4. Control:

Employees of a McDonald’s restaurant have to follow strict rules for food
preparation, they have to dress uniformly and they need to smile when receiving orders from customers. A lot of their work is replaced by machines that they can operate in only one way. The McDonald’s corporation controls the franchisee of the restaurant.
He has to follow the corporation’s rules, like getting the materials only from
specific suppliers. This includes bread and meat, but also cleaning agent and toilet
The dimension of control, in so far as it has not been implied by the foregoing, is attained "...especially through the substitution of nonhuman for human technology..." (Ritzer, 1996, p. 11). This tendency, by far not unique to McDonald's, enable the company to far better control the uniformity of production and to at least partly eliminate the hassles of having to deal with human beings. Even the implied threat of replacing human with other technology enables further control over employees. But it is not only the employees that need to be controlled, but also the customers. This is ac- complished by a range of subtle measures, among which not the least is the restriction of menus to a limited number of items, the utilization of customers to do work them- selves, such as carrying food to the tables and litter away from it, and of course the availability of hard chairs which certainly does not encourage customers to linger.
There are other dimensions of McDonaldization that Ritzer didn't include with the main four, but are worthy enough for prime attention. They are:
  • Irrationality - A side effect of over-rationalized systems. Ritzer himself hints that this is the fifth dimension of McDonaldization. An example of this could be workers on an assembly line that are hired and trained to perform a single highly rationalized task. Although this may be a very efficient method of operating a business, an irrationality that is spawned can be worker burnout.
  • Deskilling - A work force with the minimum abilities possible to complete simple focused tasks. This means that they can be quickly and cheaply trained and are easily replaceable.
  • Consumer Workers - One of the sneakiest things about McDonaldization is how consumers get tricked into becoming unpaid employees. They do the work that was traditionally performed by the company. The prime example of this is diners who bus their own tables at the fast food restaurant. They dutifully carry their trash to friendly receptacles marked "thank you." (The extreme rationalization of this is the drive-thru; consumers take their trash with them!) Other examples are many and include: ATM's, salad bars, automated telephone menus, and pumping gas.

Supply chain –the cause to the term ‘  Mcdonaldization ‘

Supply Chain is one of the critical factors for the smooth functioning of any business. And when we are talking about fast food business with McDonald’s as the subject of the study it can expected a Supply Chain model of one of the highest precisions. It is this unmatched Supply Chain Structure, which not just ensures on time delivery of raw materials and supplies to McDonalds but also enables it to cut down on its cost and maximize profitability along with maintaining highest quality standards of its products. The level of commitment of McDonalds can be gauged from the fact that even before it set up its first restaurant in the country it infused Rs 400 Crore to set up its delivery mechanism. McDonald’s initiative to set up an efficient supply chain and deploy state-of-art technology changed the entire Indian fast food industry and raised the standards of performance to international levels.
McDonald's is committed to providing quality products while supporting other Indian businesses. And so, we spent a few years setting up a unique Supply Chain, even before we opened our first restaurant in India.
A Supply Chain is a network of facilities including - material flow from suppliers and their "upstream" suppliers at all levels, transformation of materials into semi-finished and finished products, and distribution of products to customers and their "downstream" customers at all levels. So, raw material flows as follows: supplier - manufacturer – distributor – retailer – consumer. Information and money flows in the reverse direction. The balance between these 3 flows is what a Supply Chain is all about.
When there is a balance in the finished product ordering, the Supply Chain operates at its best. Any major fluctuation in the product ordering pattern causes excess / fluctuating inventories, shortages / stock outs, longer lead times, higher transportation and manufacturing costs, and mistrust between supply chain partners. This is called the Bullwhip Effect.
Depending on the situation, the Supply Chain may include major product elements, various suppliers, geographically dispersed activities, and both upstream and downstream activities. It is critical to go beyond one’s immediate suppliers and customers to encompass the entire chain, since hidden value often emerges once the entire chain is visualized. For example, a diesel engine manufacturer may be able to integrate a GPS locator system into its engine control system. Its immediate customer, a heavy truck manufacturer, may see no need for this functionality. However, the downstream customer, a trucking company with a large fleet, may be very interested in a locator system. Understanding the value to the downstream customer is part of the supply chain management process.
McDonald's had been working critically on its supply chain part. Considering, an international brand trying to make inroads into the Indian consciousness, its Indian supplier partners were developed in such a manner that made them stay with the company from the beginning. The success of McDonald's India is a result of its commitment to sourcing almost all its products from within the country. For this purpose, it has developed local Indian businesses, which can supply them the highest quality products required for their Indian operations." As per today's standings, McDonald's India works with as many as 38 Indian suppliers on a long-term basis, besides several others standalone restaurants working with it, for various requirements.
 McDonald's entered its first distribution partnership agreement with Radha Krishna Foodland, a part of the Radha Krishna Group engaged in food-related service businesses. The association goes back to July 1993, when it studied the nuances of McDonald's operations and requirements for the Indian market.Better facilities and infrastructures were created along with new systems by them to satisfy McDonald's high demands, which finally culminated into an agreement with McDonald's India, for Radha Krishna Foodland to serve as distribution centres for our restaurants in Delhi and Mumbai." As distribution centres, the company was responsible for procurement, the quality inspection programme, storage, inventory management, deliveries to the restaurants and data collection, recording and reporting. Value-added services like shredding of lettuce, re-packing of promotional items continued since then at the centres playing a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the products throughout the entire 'cold chain'. The operations and accounting is totally transparent and is subject to regular audits.
             McDonald's had worked aggressively to attain the right suppliers and systems that ensured that 90 per cent of yield was indigenous before the doors were opened to consumers. The only products that we used to import were oil and fries, for which we have had made arrangements to manufacture the oil in India. We ensured that the products developed locally abide by global McDonald's standards,"
Over the last 10 years, the company has gained experience and adopted procedures that helped in maintaining a continuous supply of food products irrespective of the climatic conditions.Our logistics and warehousing system is robust that prepares us to deliver products at the same temperature throughout, without a single break in the cold chain."

Two Task orientated strategies
            The general approaches followed by Mcdonalds for purchasing and logistic
      “The 3 legged stool”: Corporation – Franchisees – Suppliers
      Exclusive, certified facilities
      Handshake agreements, Trust
      Long term win-win partnership, risk sharing
      Rigorous product and service specifications
      Strong focus on quality, product specification and environmental audits
      Decentralized supplier structure, zone consolidation for multinational suppliers
      Distributor is wholesaler for Restaurants
      ~100 sales items in the restaurant
      ~400 SKUs in the warehouse (Hubs: up to 1,500)
      ~200 restaurants per DC (~180 DCs globally)
      Delivery frequency: ~3/wk, higher in urban areas
      2-3 stops per route
      Exclusive distributors (3PL)
      Freight consolidation (via freight forwarders)
      Long term partnerships with service providers, risk sharing
      Strong quality focus (Cold Chain, HACCP, QIP)

McDonald’s Logistics Standards
·      DQMP (Distributor Quality Management Process)
For over 50 years, McDonald’s has been serving customers its famous sandwiches, fries and salads. Thanks to its stellar food safety program, McDonald’s delights each day over 50 million global citizens from young to old with confidence. In order to boost the level of assurance in its food safety program, McDonald’s Europe decided to outsource its supply chain auditing. More specifically, McDonald’s Europe targeted certification bodies to audit its food suppliers against own standard SQMS (Supplier Quality Management System) or distribution centres against DQMP (Distributor Quality Management Process). The company required an unbiased view from certification leaders capable of evolving into veritable partners for McDonald’s and its suppliers. As a result, McDonald’s Europe provided its suppliers with a short-list of pre-approved certification bodies from which they could select one to conduct required audits.For a certification company to make it onto the list, it had to undergo a stringent
six-month approval process.

Ø  Key steps in our certification process are:
• Definition of certification scope
• Pre-audit (optional): audit of your current position against the standard’s requirement
• On-site audit: including a traceability test
• Central review of audit report and shipment to

       Quality Control (HACCP / QIP)
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a systematic approach to food safety that emphasizes prevention within our suppliers' facility and restaurants rather than detection through inspection of illness or presence of microbiological data. Based on HACCP guidelines, control points and critical control points for all McDonald's major food processing plands and restaurants in India have ben identified. The limits have been established for those followed by monitoring, recording and correcting any deviations. The HACCP verification is done at least twice in a year and certified.
       Cold Chain standards
Cold Chain was one of the unique concepts of McDonalds supply chain in India, on which it had spent more than six years to get the system into place. This system brought about a veritable revolution, immensely benefiting the farmers at one end and enabling customers at retail counters get the highest quality food products, absolutely fresh and at great value. Through its unique cold chain, McDonalds has been able to both cut down on its operational wastage, as well as maintain the freshness and nutritional value of raw and processed food products. This has involved procurement, warehousing, transportation and retailing of perishable food products, all under controlled temperatures. The following list of suppliers, who build up the major supply chain of McDonalds, reveal how this ‘Cold Chain’ works and contributes towards the efficiency of McDonalds.
Setting up extensive cold chain distribution system forms the lifeline of any fast food business. In this regard, McDonald's incorporated state-of-the-art food processing technology along with its international suppliers to pioneering Indian entrepreneurs, who are today an integral part of the cold chain. and have imparted technical training to all our suppliers on how to operate the imported machineries, educated them on the McDonald's philosophy of Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value (QSCV) in order to provide standardised food to our customers."
The 'cold chain', on which the QSR major has spent more than six years for setting up the same in India, has brought about a veritable revolution, immensely benefiting the farmers at one end and enabling customers at retail counters. McDonald's finding the factor of cold room being vital ensured that even before vegetable from farms enters the refrigerated zones, they are locked in a pre-cooling room to remove field heat. Vegetables are placed in the pre-cooling room within half an hour of harvesting where rapid cooling decreases the field temperature of vegetables to 2ºC within 90 minutes. Then a large cold room (a refrigerated van) is used for transportation to the distribution centers. In the van, the temperature and relative humidity of crop is maintained at 1-4ºC and 95 per cent, respectively and the flavours and freshness are locked at -35°C.
·      Hygiene regulations
 All suppliers adhere to government regulations on food, health and hygiene while continuously maintaining McDonald's recognised standards. As the ingredients move from farms to processing plants to the restaurant, McDonald's Quality Inspection Programme (QIP) carries out quality checks at over 20 different points in the Cold Chain system. Setting up of the Cold Chain has also enabled us to cut down on operational wastage
Mcdonalds had a strong homogeneous effect on the culture in its home country the same cannot be said about the countries be said about the countries it expanded to. There its localization process was rather about the countries it expanded to. There its localization process was rather about assimilating into the cultural than to suppress it.
On the one side, Mcdonald’s leads to a standardized and homogenous global consumer culture, but on the other side , it brings variety ,diversity and innovation to many parts of the world. It contributes to the creation of a hybrid global culture ,especially as we saw in asia . When the localization process of Mcdonald’s is viewed out of the customer , the risk is leading towards a homogenous culture is smaller than the theory of Mcdonaldization suggests.
The expration of mcdonalds into Germany did not earse local traditions, because it was something completely  new and thus needed its own category . anyway ,it changed publics  eating habits in Japan and replaced the traditional parks and teahouses as places for old people to meet.
The  spread of the fast food culture also bars some risks. Even though it did not lead to a homogenous global culture yet, it could lead towards what is the case in the USA now in just some decades. I think this is possible  because the whole world  is becoming more hectic and because the values of family and having a home-cooked meal together are declining.
Other than culture, the spread of fast food corporations can lead to many economical risks when they become a dominant factor in the local economy. As usual when it comes to globalization, the average person will be the looser of such monopolies.