McDonald’s, America’s fast food empire, has implemented various strategies that forever changed how American’s live and operate. While some of these strategies are positive and prove to be successful in today’s society, others have negative effects. Efficiency is one quality of McDonaldization that has greatly impacted the American lifestyle and how we receive goods and services. Efficiency is recognized as “a process to get customers in and out as easy as possible”, (Yeganeh, 2011). Although efficiency is productive and dramatically improved the American way of life, scholars also agree it has negative effects. By understanding how efficiency is applied in American culture, one can discern the negative impact this may pose to society in the future.
In Ritzer’s text, Mcdonaldization of Society, he explains that “efficiency is perhaps most often linked to the seeming increase in the pace of life”, (2007). Through the matter of efficiency, businesses and organizations have developed ways to make life more convenient for consumers. From fast-food restaurants to online classes, life is much easier than it was 50 years ago. Through efficiency people can have what they want, when they want, and the quickest way possible. Efficiency frees up time for professors as they do not have to go through the tedious task of grading multiple choice exams, technology can do it for them. Efficiency is also observed in entertainment and recreation as many people are able to record their favorite shows when they are not home to watch it. Although efficiency became popularized in fast food chains, other businesses jumped on the bandwagon. Observing the cost effectiveness and ability to improve operations and consumer satisfaction, many companies have implemented efficiency into their day to day productions for ensure business continuity.
Ritzer does an excellent job of explaining efficiency and its relationship to mcdonaldization. He gives a list of situations and examples in which efficiency occur ranging from education and entertainment to hospital and church services. However, Ritzer does little to explain the negative or positive effects efficiency has on society. Despite this, he was able to address a couple issues that occur which regards the consumer. He considers the work required of consumers to perform in an efficient society. This includes consumer restrictions and limitations. Consumers must typically abide by the menu and standards of efficiency found in business culture. For example, “customers with the temerity to ask for a less well-done burger or well-browned fries are likely to cool their heels for a long time waiting for such erotica” (Ritzer, 2007). Consequently, although some businesses operate under efficiency, consumers are unable to make special request or accommodations according to their wants and needs. This is also observed in organizations where the customer is required to do the work. The consumer is expected to wait in line, place their own order, and clean their area.
While Ritzer failed to address the negative effects of efficiency on American society, other scholars did. In an article produced by the college of business and economics, professor Bruenderman claims that efficient businesses outsource jobs and limiting job ability, performance, and skills. An example of this can be observed in how McDonalds employees cook and prepare food in an assembly line where employees are extremely limited in their job function. For instance, the food dresser applies condiments to the food while another person builds and wraps the food. In this way, “McDonalds cuts down an employee responsibilities so that restaurant employees multi-task less… removing learning experiences from the remaining human workers at their expense”, (Bruenderman, 2009). While this may appear to be positive by making products and processes more efficient for the customer, it has negative effects on employees. An example of this is seen in Walmart and Kroger where customers have the opportunity to purchase items on a self-serve kiosk which can negatively affect the workforce. Jobs that are normally done by individuals are now be done by computers. This eliminates human error from transactions, creates shorter lines, and makes life more efficient for shoppers. It also reduces the number of jobs in the work force and limits employee duties.
While businesses and consumers observe efficiency as a positive effect in today’s society, scholars such as Professor Bruenderman believe the contrary. Efficiency has created a fast pace society where people can get what they want in minutes and with little effort. Although this makes life much easier it may produce negative effects in the long run. This includes outsourcing jobs, replacing human jobs with technology, and providing limited opportunities and creativity for employees. From open heart surgery, fast-food restaurants, and even shopping centers, Americans are accustomed to living life in the fast lane. Individuals can go to the grocery store to purchase their food, microwavable, frozen, or made to order, with the help of technology and efficiency. However, what does this mean for the job market and the economy? With so many jobs being taken by robots, computers, and outsourcing, it has given the rise to what is known as McJobs, “a low paying job involving little skill that affords insignificant opportunity for advancement” (Bruenderman, 2009). This makes one question the impact efficiency will have on our future society and the ability for individuals to be able to cope with a regressing job market.
Bruenderman, A. (2009). Negative Effects of McDonalization. Gatton Student Research Publication. Vol 1. Gatton College of Business and Economics. University of Kentuky. Retrieved from: http://gatton.uky.edu/GSRP/Downloads/Issues/Fall2009/Negative%20Effects%20of%20McDonaldization.pdf
Ritzer, G. (2007). The McDonalization of Society. Retrieved from: http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/17264_Chapter_3.pdf
Yeganeh, H. (2011). Reviewing The McDonalization of Society by G. Ritzer. University of Minnesota, College of Business. 19 April 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.anglohigher.com/key_announce/key_announce_detail/11