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Starbucks Corporation Case Study in Motivation and Teamwork

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 2890 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Motivation is a urge to achieve goals, the drive to excel. Motivation is a process that arouses, sustains and regulates behaviour towards a specific goal. Many theorists’ try to explain motivation in different way. Like according to Huzczynski and Buchanan, ”Motivation is a decision-making process through which the individual choose desired outcomes and sets in motion the behaviour appropriate to acquiring them.” In other words motivation is a kind of internal energy which drives a person to do something in order to achieve something. Motivation is influenced by, values, beliefs, attitudes, needs and goals.

There are two types of motivation. One is intrinsic motivation and the other is extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation are kind of motivation that come naturally or people do from their own interest without any external pressure. They are therefore psychological rather than material and relate to the concept of job satisfaction. Intrinsic motivation include the satisfaction that comes from completing a piece of work, the status that certain jobs convey and the feeling of achievement that comes from doing a difficult job well.

On the other hand, Extrinsic motivation are kind of motivation that comes outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are reward like money and grade, threats of punishment etc. For example, cheering from crowd to a player to win something is extrinsic motivation.

Starbucks Corporation: Case Study in Motivation and Teamwork


Starbucks Corporation, the most famous chain of retail coffee shops in the world, mainly benefits from roasting, selling special coffee beans and various kinds of coffee or tea drinks. Established in 1971, it owns about 4000 branches in the whole world. Moreover, it has been one of the rapidest growing corporations in America as well. The reasons of why Starbucks is worldwide popular are not only the quality of coffee, but also its customer service and cosy environment. Besides, it is also noted for its satisfaction of employees. The turnover rate of employees at Starbucks was 65% and the rate of managers was 25% a year. As a result, Starbucks would be one of the optimal business models for the strategies of employee motivation, customer satisfaction and cooperation of teamwork.

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Equal treatment

The managers in Starbucks treat each workpeople equally and all of the staffs are called ‘partners’, even the supervisors of each branch are called it as well. In order to narrow the gap between managers and employees, they also co-work with the basic level staffs in the front line. Due to this, they can maintain a well management system and create a much closer and more familiar atmosphere than other place, which makes not only employees can enjoy their job but also customers are affected by their enthusiasm.

Listen to employees

Starbucks has a well-organized communication channel for employees. It places a great importance on labours. For example, managers plan the working hours per workers and arrange the schedule of time off, according to their wants to meet their requirements. 

The partners have the right to figure out what is the best policy for them, and the directors show a respect for each suggestion. Starbucks even wants every employee to join in making and developing plans, then achieving their goals all together. For this reason, business could improve their strategies even innovate by different ideas.

The strategies to keep well relationship

the numbers of employees in each branch of starbucks are usually from three to six. Such a small size of a retail shop makes staffs acquaint with each other easily and deeply. In the co-working period, this helps a team to match different personalities and majors quickly to achieve well performance

A goal of public welfare

Starbucks contributes part of its profits to public service; on the other hand, it also set a goal to improve and donate to the society. As a consequence, the aim makes all staffs have an idea that what they do for Starbucks is for the society as well. It improves their morale.


Starbucks changes the behaviours and viewpoints of global consumers to coffee, and this successful example has caught global attention. According to the case of Starbucks, it shows that motivation is the key factor of a company policy and its success.

Many theories try to explain motivation and why and how people can be motivated. These theories can be classified in two categories: 1. Content theories and 2. Process theories.

Content theories is about ”what are the things that motivate people??”. It suggests that the best way to motivate an employee is to find out what his/her needs are and offer him/her rewards that will satisfy those needs. Maslow’s ”hierarchy of needs” and Herzberg’s ”two-factor theory” are two of the most important theories of these kinds.

On the other hand, Process theories is about ”How can people be motivated”. These theories explore the process through which outcomes become desirable and are pursued by individuals. This approach assumes that people are able to select their goals and choose the paths towards them, by a conscious or unconscious process of calculation. Expectancy theory and McGregor’s theory X and theory Y are these types of theory.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

Abraham Maslow described five innate human needs. And put forward certain propositions about the motivating power of each need.

It can be summarized as follows:

Human beings have wants and desires which influence their behaviour. Only unsatisfied needs influence behaviour, satisfied needs don’t.

An Individual’s needs can be arranged in hierarchy according to their importance from basic to complex. Each level of need is dominant until satisfied.

The person advances to the next level of needs only after the lower level need is satisfied.

A need which has been satisfied no longer motivates an individual’s behaviour

The need for self-actualization can rarely be satisfied.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory have some major limitation:

An individual’s behaviour may be in response to several needs, and the same need may cause different behaviour in different individuals, so it is difficult to use the model to explain or predict individual’s behaviour in response to rewards.

The hierarchy ignores the concept of deferred gratification and altruistic behaviour (by which people sacrifice their own needs for others)

Empirical verification of the hierarchy is hard to come by.

Research has revealed that the hierarchy reflects UK and US cultural values, which may not transfer to other context.

Herzberg’s two-factor theory:

Herzberg’s identified two basic need systems: the need to avoid unpleasantness and the need for personal growth. He suggested factors which could be offered by organizations to satisfy both types of need are hygiene and motivator factors.

According to this theory, the need to avoid unpleasantness is satisfied through hygiene factors. Hygiene factors are to do with the environment and condition of work including: company policy and administration, salary, the quality of supervision, interpersonal relation, working condition and job security. If inadequate, hygiene factors cause dissatisfaction with work.

The need for personal growth is satisfied by motivator factors. These activities create job satisfaction and are effective in motivating an individual to superior performance and effort. These factors are connected to the work itself, including: status, advancement, recognition, responsibility, challenging work, a sense of achievement, growth in the job. A lack of motivator factors will encourage employees to concentrate on the hygiene factors.

Major limitation of this theory is it was based on inadequately small sample size and it has a limited cultural context.

The application of these theories can be found in occupational field such as information systems and in studies of user satisfaction.

Process theories of motivation:

Vroom’s expectancy theory:

Expectancy theory basically states that the strength of an individual’s motivation to do something will depend on the extent which he expects the results of his efforts to contribute to his personal needs or goals.

For example, an employee may have a high expectation that increased productivity will result in promotion, but if he is negative towards the idea of promotion (because he dislike responsibility) he will not be motivated to increase his productivity. Like in the same way, if promotion is very important to him- but he does not believe higher productivity will get him promoted (because he has been passed over before, perhaps) his motivation will become low. That simply means that an individual should be rewarded with what he or she perceives as important rather than what the manager’s perceives.

McGregor: Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGregor suggested that managers tented to behave as though they subscribed to one of two sets of assumptions about people at work: Theory X and Theory Y.

Theory X suggests that most people dislike work and responsibility and will avoid both if possible. Because of this, most people must be coerced, controlled, directed and/or threatened with punishment to get them to man adequate effort.

Theory Y suggests that physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest. People value work as a source of satisfaction and welcome responsibility. They can achieve objectives by exercising self direction and self control.

So, why motivation is so important?

One of the main importance’s of motivation is to increase individual’s morale. For example, if a sports team is constantly losing their matches then this will have a negative effect on the morale of the whole team as no one likes to lose. Besides, this loss can affect the behaviour of the individual. Therefore, the manager of the team is responsible for motivating his players to help them stay focused on future matches. And need to develop their confidence. On this basis, motivation is important because it can help a person to forget about his past and help him to move on.

Now in business or in organization motivation is important because, motivated employees help organizations survive. Motivated employees are more productive. If employees can be motivated they will work more efficiently and productivity will rise. Besides, motivated employee always look for better ways to do a job, motivated employees are more quality oriented.

Simply we can say that. Motivation is important because, it Improves level of efficiency of employees like, increase productivity, reducing cost of operation and improving overall efficiency. Its helps organization to achieve its goal, because it creates best possible utilization of resources, It also builds friendly relationship which is very important because it improves employee’s satisfaction. Finally, motivation leads to stability of workforce. This is very important for the reputation and goodwill of the company. The employees can remain loyal to the enterprise only when they have a feeling of participation in the decision making. This will then produce a good public image in the market which will attract competent and qualified people into the company. On the basis of these, we can say that it’s not possible to get extra level of commitment and productivity from your employee unless they are motivated and that’s why it’s so important.

So, what motivate people or how can people be motivated?

This is a common question arise. People can be motivated by many means, mainly money such as salary, reward, incentives and non-monetary like threat, reorganisation etc

Although ”money” is considered as a best motivator for, however, sometimes just working for salary is not enough for employee to stay at an organization. Again, what motivate one person may not motivate other

Interestingly neither Herzberg nor Maslow cites money as a significant motivator. According to Maslow money is a lower level incentive. It has the motivational impact on staffs which lasts for a short period. At a higher level of hierarchy, praise, respect, reorganisation, empowerment and a sense of belonging are far more powerful motivator than money. Yet organizations persist using financial incentives as their chief motivational tools. Furthermore, research shows that manual workers are more likely to be motivated by money than are more professional or managerial groups.

There is threat and opportunity in most of the average work place. Motivation by threat is not an effective strategy, and naturally staffs are more attracted to the opportunity side of motivation than the threat side.

Other theories which expended those of Maslow and Herzberg like vroom’s expectancy theory express cultural differences and the fact that individuals tend to be motivated by different factors at different time.

According to the ”system of scientific management” developed by Fredric Winslow Taylor, a workers motivation is completely determined by pay, and therefore management don’t need to consider psychological or social accepts of work. On the other hand, David McClelland believed that worker could not motivated only by the need for money, infect, extrinsic motivation could eliminate intrinsic motivation such as achievement motivation. For McClelland, satisfaction sits in line with a person’s life with their fundamental motivations. Another theorist, Elton Mayo found that the social contacts a worker has at workplace are very important because boredom and repetition of tasks could lead to reduced motivation. Mayo believed that, workers could be motivated by recognising their social needs and making them feel important. As a result, employees were given freedom to make decision on the job and greater attention was paid to informal work groups.

In ”essentials of organizational behaviour” Robbins and judge examine recognition programs as motivators and identify the importance of individual recognition, participation of employee, visibility of the recognition process as important motivator in workplace.

Apart from these, there are many things that could be worked as motivator. Such as:

Job design: Simplification of the job, proper training, and flexibility can motivate employee.

Job enrichment: giving the employee decision making task, freedom to decide, encourage into participation in the planning process and giving regular feedback is also motivating

Job rotation. Avoiding repitivness in work put employees into different work with the time make employee motivated and feel challenge. Otherwise, they become bored doing same work over and over and thereby de-motivate as well

Job optimisation: Skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy also motivate people.

In conclusion we can say that motivation plays an important role in our life. In this economic downturn, in-order to survive, business needs motivated people. Because motivation helps employees to be more productive and productive employee make the company more profitable. But to motivate other we need to motivate ourselves. Without motivating ourselves we cannot motivate others. Will you be motivated by the manager who comes late every day? The company need to set clear goal, because it is impossible for any individual, any team or group of people, to be motivated without a clear and specific goal. We also need to recognize their achievement or in other words we need to give employee proper recognition for their performance. Because, people like to see that their work isn’t being ignored. We also need to give people the trust and respect they deserve. We need to create opportunity, give people the opportunity to advance. Let them know that hard work will pay off. In companies like Sainsbury or Tesco, you can start your carrier as a customer assistant, and then you can become the team leader, floor supervisor, assistant manager and manager as well. This opportunity of progression like these, company must show to the employee, which will automatically motivate them. The company need to give proper feedback and corrected them if they do anything wrong. Finally, company need to give employee their freedom of speech, in other words need to give them the chance to participate and let them believe that they are the part of company and their advice counts. In companies like John Lewis, all employees are the shareholder of the company. This is very motivating. That’s how we should motivate people and that’s how motivation as a concept can be established in our workplace.


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