Posts Tagged ‘societ’

The Organizational and Societal Functions of PR

August 16, 2009

In 1906, Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle” shook Americans into fervor about their food. The book described the nauseating practices that were commonplace in Chicago’s meatpacking industry, and revealed a picture of where our meat comes from and what happens to it after slaughter and prior to packaging. As a result of the novel, President Theodore Roosevelt passed several food safety laws, one of which established the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Since then, Americans may have felt that their food was now being safely prepared and packaged due to government oversight.Americans are wrong, and have many reasons to be concerned about the foods they consume. (Blackwell, J.; n.d.)

In the following discussion, we will analyze the importance of organizational public relations in the context of recent restaurant food poisoning outbreaks. Further, this author will discuss the societal implications of “Food Poisoning PR”, and elaborate how PR can be an effective tool to mislead the public.

“Three Washington children died and 600 others were sickened due to poisoning from E. coli 0157:H7 served in undercooked Jack In The Box hamburgers.” (Porterfield, E. & Berliant, A.; Jun. 1995. Pg. 1 ¶ 2).

While the 1993 Jack In The Box food poisoning scandal certainly gained notoriety among Americans, many other food poisoning incidences have occurred since. Several years ago, green onions from a particular produce farm were also tainted with E.coli, and the vegetable was pulled from the shelves at groceries and removed from Taco Bell products nationwide.

When prepared foods are the cause of illness or death, and a restaurant is targeted as the origin point of these tainted products, the public begins to fear food. According to Maslov’s hierarchy of needs, being safe and fed are our very basic, primal desires. When our food can kill or injure us, and when we question our ability to make safe choices among food products, this infringes upon our needs for survival. It is safe to say, from a psychological standpoint, that the public has every right to become inflamed, afraid, and angry when we discover our food choices aren’t guaranteed to provide us with basic sustenance.

In the event of a food poisoning scandal, public relations becomes an essential ingredient to maintain a restaurant’s ability to remain in business. As a result of the Jack-In-The-Box E.coli incident, many potential franchisees are still wary of opening up a unit in particular regions of the country – they recognize that the food poisoning outbreak is still recalled by fast food consumers in those areas, who refuse to purchase quick service food items from a Jack-In-The-Box store.

 Jack-In-The-Box had little to base a positive PR campaign upon, however. According to the resulting litigation documented in the The News Tribune, a Tacoma, Washington newspaper, the corporation’s business practices actually contributed to the festering of E. coli in the hamburger meat. The company believed that cooking beef to the recommended 155°F temperature made the meat hard, and often encouraged stores to cook their beef at lower temperatures. (Porterfield, E. & Berliant, A.; Jun. 1995) 

Jack-In-The-Box obviously did not have a talented PR staff to handle the food poisoning scandal, or the company would be more successful and wouldn’t have had so many locations close. During a tragic event such as a food poisoning scare, an effective PR team can assure the public that the company is doing everything possible to locate the cause of the problem; that the company will jointly work with food safety specialists to revise their operations guidelines; that the company will create an extensive employee training program for food safety; and that the company is working diligently to ensure that a food poisoning occurrence is never possible in the future as the company stands for highest-quality foods. 

While this type of PR would have been incredibly effective for the Jack-In-The-Box organization, the PR also has significant societal implications. While a corporation can revise its food preparation guidelines, and tell the public that they are creating a stringent food safety training program for their employees, it seems impossible to avoid food poisoning occurrences. Too many variables are involved in prepared food: its production, its transport, its storage, its preparation, and its packaging.

According to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 1999, 76 million Americans contract food poisoning each year. This huge statistic presents the conclusion that while the United States may be one of the World’s superpowers, we can’t effectively control the danger imposed by the food we eat. (Stout, D.; Sep.1999).

From a societal standpoint, it seems almost hazardous for a company to promise they will be able to control future food poisoning epidemics. This PR creates the illusion that corporations and the government are actively involved in efforts to make our food safer, and that these efforts are successful.

Resources

 Blackwell, J. (n.d.). “1906: Rumble over ‘The Jungle’. The Trentonian. Retrieved online August 18, 2007 from http://www.capitalcentury.com/1906.html

OutBreak, Inc. (2005). “Jack In The Box E-Coli Litigation”. Retrieved online August 18, 2007 from http://www.about-ecoli.com/news/jack-in-the-box.htm.

Porterfield, E. & Berliant, A. (Jun. 1995). “Jack In The Box Ignored Safety Rules”. The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA). Article located online, and retrieved August 18, 2007 from http://www.about-ecoli.com/news/jack-in-the-box3.htm.

Stout, D. (Sep.1999). “Study Puts U.S. Food-Poisoning Toll at 76 Million Yearly”. The New York Times. Retrieved online August 19, 2007 from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9F00E6DF123CF934A2575AC0A96F958260

Total Quality Management and the 21st Century Organization

August 16, 2009

Total Quality Management (TQM) is the management philosophy singularly focused upon a corporation’s customers. By continuously monitoring, adjusting, and creating new processes, companies are able to create the highest quality product for their consumer base, following the assumption that these consumers will then equate that corporation with quality products, therefore, establishing a superior brand image and forecasting future sales from loyal consumers.

In the following analysis, this author will discuss TQM as it exists in 21st century corporations, with a particular emphasis on the effect of globalization on TQM practices. A comparison of traditional management styles to TQM will follow. Lastly, this author will examine ways that TQM practices could affect XXXXX Corporation, a merchandiser for [Major Retailer] stores throughout the nation.

The Impact of Globalization on TQM

21st century globalization has greatly impacted TQM philosophies in organizations. U.S. corporations now carefully consider outsourcing production and manufacturing, as the labor costs in other countries is considerably less expensive than those of American workers. When a corporation chooses to either expand operations to a foreign country or begin selling products or services globally, two major conflicts may arise and disrupt TQM practices.

First, culture undoubtedly affects workplace behavior. It has been clearly identified that many societies during the post World War II period became accustomed to shoddy craftsmanship and inexpensive products that would not last over time. Due to this cultural shift in consumer behavior, it is entirely possible that other countries, long involved in the production of such inferior products, still retain this theory that products need not be well-made; instead, the quantity of products pushed out the door is the major focus.

For example, southeastern Asiatic nations such as Taiwan, Korea and China began manufacturing inexpensive consumer goods during the early 19th century. Products composed of plastics, ceramics, china, and pottery were produced on a huge scale, and exported to industrialized nations such as the United States. Despite the fact that American collectors now prize these “kitschy” products, during the 1970s consumers in the U.S. began to value product quality after a string of product recalls and a significant recession. Products needed to be crafted for longevity; Americans simply could not afford to purchase “throwaway” goods.  This cultural consumer behavior exerted upon Asian producers surely influenced their production techniques. In the 1980s Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai unveiled several models to the U.S. market. After proving themselves to be of questionable quality, Americans soon believed Asian auto manufacturers could not compete, from a quality standpoint, with Detroit’s auto-makers (Edmunds.com; n.d.).

However, in the late 1990s Hyundai autos resurfaced on the U.S. automobile dealership terrain. Offered with extensive warranties, the automobiles were first received slowly due to Hyundai’s reputation from the past. However, Hyundai and its subsidiary brand Kia now command an impressive market share of the U.S. auto market, and are considered by many American drivers to be a maker of inexpensive yet durable auto products (Haille, D.; Aug. 2006).

Companies that produce or offer products and services in other countries have an influence imposed upon their TQM practices due to cultural belief systems and past consumer experiences. Globalization exerts different forces upon corporations, and these influences can negatively impact company’s commitment to TQM philosophies.

Total Quality Management Compared to Traditional Management Philosophies

While TQM may be practiced by traditional organizations, it has very different focuses from that of traditional management philosophies. Several key tenets of TQM are virtually opposite that of the 20th century organization.

First, TQM is a customer oriented management style instead of a company-focused belief system. The conventional corporation is led by executives constantly seeking to improve the organization for the benefit of its internal and external shareholders. TQM is dedicated to the philosophy that an organization cannot succeed without satisfying its customers – their needs come first. This customer focus creates a very different organizational culture, as employees recognize which entity funds their salaries. While the corporation may write the paycheck, the financial strength comes from satisfied customers that continue to purchase products (Bacal, R.; n.d.).

Second, organizations practicing the TQM philosophy tend to have a more long-term focus. Classical management principles dictate that leaders are constantly observing and reacting to current data, with an eye for both solving crises quickly and producing financial successes immediately. TQM is a management theory poised towards future goals. Developing an organization to fully implement TQM principles is a lengthy and often expensive goal. From a value creation standpoint, TQM is worth the time and cost. An organization thoroughly practicing TQM, from production to marketing, is clearly setting its sights on future success. TQM at its heart is a long-term goal – both in embedding TQM in its value system and in its dedication to creating satisfied customers for their lifetime.

Sunbelt Services, Inc. and Total Quality Management

XXXXX Corporation is a merchandising organization servicing [Major Retailer] stores nationwide. The company relies upon manufacturing-like production goals in order to effectively place [Major Retailer] products in the proper spots. TQM could be a perfect fit for this production oriented service organization. Not only could TQM help managers evaluate, train, and communicate with field merchandising representatives, but the organization’s leadership may be able to center on the relationship between XXXXX Corporation and [Major Retailer]. In an organization with incredibly high turnover rates, employee retention could be achieved through the incorporation of TQM principles in XXXXX Corporation’s philosophy.

Conclusion

TQM is a non-traditional management style focused upon long-term customer satisfaction. While the 21st century wave of globalization has exerted new pressures on the TQM organization, the philosophy is bound by a belief system suited for the customer-oriented organization.

Resources

Bacal, R. (n.d.). “TQM – What Is It?”. Retrieved online October 12, 2007 from http://performance-appraisals.org/Bacalsappraisalarticles/articles/tqm1.htm.

Burrill, C.W. & Ledolter, J. (1999). “Achieving Quality Through Continual Improvement” (1 E). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved online through the University of Phoenix student webpage (eResource) on October 12, 2007.

Edmunds.com (n.d.). “Hyundai History”. Retrieved online October 13, 2007 from http://www.edmunds.com/hyundai/history.html.

Maille, D. (Aug. 2006). “Why Ford Motor Company Is Losing Market Share Fast To Hyundai”. Retrieved online October 13, 2007 from http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-Ford-Motor-Company-Is-Losing-Market-Share-Fast-To-Hyundai&id=274198

Logic and Critical Thinking

August 16, 2009

Logic is a necessary part of the critical thinking process. Although our natural sense of perception sensually guides us towards rational thought, critical thinking is not met until the complex tools of logic are utilized.

Perception is the natural mechanism within our thought making process that is influenced by both sensory and emotional stimuli. We are born with the innate ability to perceive.  As young children, our perceptions are evidenced by simple determinations made. We smell a fresh daisy, and somewhere, deep within the chasms of our brain, our thought is that the incredible odor signifies that the flower is beautiful.

Later, our perceptions become more complex, and influenced largely by environmental influences and societal beliefs. For example, an adult may be emotionally repulsed or angered by a woman who undergoes an abortion. This reviled woman is the symptom of that adults’ perception, as that adult may have been largely influenced by religious doctrine or the influence of his parents’ taught morals. This type of perception is still largely emotional, and has not undergone the full circle of critical thinking.

Logic is the tool that helps drive perception towards deeper critical thinking. Through the use of logic, we are able to study arguments and persuasions on the most analytical level, and eliminate undue emotion or bias from our thought process.

My own perceptual process has often been led by extreme swings of emotion. I have discovered that my own initial perceptions prove very wrong under critical analysis. When I rely solely on my emotional perceptual process, I do not believe that I can later embark on the path of good decision making.

For example, some young adults are often entwined deeply in love affairs that have very little to do with logic. One person can perceive another on an extreme emotional level. Pheromones, the ultimate biological sensory tool, may play a large role in driving the base emotion of lust. One may make you laugh, creating an emotion of excitement and titillation, eventually leading to flirtation. These basic emotional determinations are often made on an almost subconscious level. Because young people are often unable to direct their thought processes, they find themselves locked within a web of dysfunction, the all too commonplace teenage love affair.

As adults, we can choose our romantic partners with more direction through logic. Although a suitor may make us laugh, and may strike us as attractive, we are able to determine that person is not a suitable partner. Critically, we can analyze past behaviors, and determine that the suitor has not demonstrated signs of trustworthiness. We can reflect upon that person’s verbal communication, and determine that their ideas and opinions are subtly foreign from our own. As adults, we are more capable of making rational choices because we have learned of the bitter fruits of emotional decision making. We are now capable of making choices that involve logical thought processes in coalition with our innate sense of perception.

When tools of logic are used in conjunction with our ability to perceive, we can drive our thought processes towards critical thinking. Ultimately relying upon our emotional perceptions in the beginning, critical thinking can only describe our use of logic as a refining analytical tool to help us focus on the fallacies in our thought processes.