Office Space Organizational Culture Environment Research Paper

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Office Space opens with an extended scene showing Peter stuck in traffic on his way to work. The morning commute is the commencement of many workers’ days, and impacts their perception of their job and overall quality of life. Yet it is corporate culture itself that is the primary focus of Office Space. Supervisor Lumburgh micromanages, focusing on inane details as a means to assert his authority, without considering the big picture issues he could be focusing on to help the company. As Peter’s dissatisfaction mounts, he takes increasing risks with his career, which ultimately pay off. Initech represents the dysfunctional way many companies continue to operate. The progressive tech companies of today have learned that the organizational culture and leadership styles exhibited in Office Space are detrimental to employee satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately to the success of the organization.

The environment at Initech is bureaucratic and hierarchical, leading to a stifling organizational culture. Employees are undervalued. Because of the chain of command, they have no opportunities to contribute their ideas to the organization. Employees like Peter are restricted to their interactions with their immediate supervisor. Moreover, subordinates do not learn about big picture issues: the reasons why things like the TPS report are important. Given the organizational hierarchy, it is even unlikely Lumburgh knows why the TPS report is important, which is why he nitpicks about the cover page. Lumburgh’s attitude toward subordinates is condescending, dehumanizing people like Peter instead of empowering them and encouraging them to contribute and perform at their best. When they are unmotivated, people like Peter end up either underperforming or leaving the company.

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“The best predictor of what people will do is what they are incentivized to do,” (Watkins, 2013). Peter has zero incentives, which is why he eventually rebels. Finally, the human resources department actually outsources its downsizing strategy to the consultants. While outsourcing is not inherently problematic, hiring consultants shows that Initech does not actively care about its employees on a personal level.

Peter’s coworkers at Initech share his attitudes towards the company and the legitimacy of the supervisors, although they respond in different ways. Milton suppresses everything, and ultimately bursts out, literally lighting Initech on fire out of frustration. Peter’s path is a unique one, in that he decides to be brutally honest with the consultants. His honesty is perceived positively, even though Peter had expected to get fired. His promotion is ironic. On the one hand, Peter received the promotion even though he had already mentally checked out of the company. Peter realizes that even a promotion is not going to make him happy because there are no incentives to perform. The organizational culture is the problem, not his salary. Office Space shows how employees….....

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Judge, M. (1999). Office Space. [Feature Film].

Riordan, C. (2013). The power of “thank you”: 3 steps to a culture of gratitude. HR Specialist 11(7): 7.

Watkins, M.D. (2013). What is organizational culture? Harvard Business Review. May 15, 2013. Retrieved online:

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