Essay On Multinational Capitalism And Social Realities

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Coca Cola, Organization, Business, Sociology, Internet, Workplace, Company, Corporation

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/10/10


Organizations could have the same mechanisms with regard to training its workers and promoting the business, but the application of differing organizational perspectives provides people with varying critiques which could prove to be essential to their development. Symbolic interactionism sheds light to the capacity of individual workers to change and maintain an organization. On the other hand, the critical theory questions the plight of workers and the undesirable aspects of the environment provided for an organization. Moreover, it tries to put issues under a socio-historical context to properly evaluate them and suggest appropriate solutions.

Organizational Perspectives

There are four perspectives commonly used in the study of organizations, namely: critical theory, modernism, postmodernism, and symbolic interactionism. The study shall focus on the first and the last perspectives, as they are arguably sufficient enough to provide an in-depth analysis regarding organizations, specifically in the case of multinational corporation Coca-Cola. Both the critical and symbolic interactionist perspectives have proven to be capable enough of delving into varying aspects within the organization and its multitude of workers.

Critical Theory

The critical approach, as the name implies, looks into the underlying assumptions which could undermine the basic rights and conditions of people that should be appropriately upheld by institutions and organizations in power. One of its major objectives is to seek the problems being faced by individuals and groups due to inequality. A concept related to the perspective is reification, which is the process of distorting an interest by one party into a universal and otherwise natural interest (Anon, n.d.). Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( One good example of it is the reification of money or profit, as modern society now sees its acquisition as an objective reality and an essential tool for survival.

Organizational Consensus and Conflict

With regards to the critical theory, one can observe how the reification of profiteering has created an agreement between employees in their managers, with the former lending its physical and intellectual capital for the financial interest of the latter (Anon, n.d.). Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( It provides those in the executive position a rather unequal advantage as their own interests are inculcated into the goals and values of their workers.
According to information presented by the University of Kentucky (n.d.), the critical theory attempts to disclose the socio-technical forces within the organization that subjugate workers. This combination helps establish a concertive control, in which people begin working properly in the organization not because of their approval of a bureaucratic system, but because of their favorable perception of socio-cultural norms (Barker, 1993). Additionally, a critical perspective believes that oppression is not a necessary part of the organization, and that workplace democracy is indeed essential to counter any socio-economic imbalance (University of Kentucky, n.d.).

Symbolic Interactionist Perspective

The interactionist theory, in general, emphasizes the power of individuals to shape and run organizations. It supports the idea that — as Dennis Mumby and Robin Clair noted — “organizations exist only in so far as their members create them through discourse” (Anon, n.d.). Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( This kind of interpretive and humanist sociology is in direct contrast to pragmatic and rational sociology (Casey, 2002, p.46). The epistemology of symbolic interactionists, therefore, is grounded on interpretation.

Subjectivism in Organizations

The relevance of symbolic interactionism in the study of organizations stems from the fact that it has intensive experience in dealing with both social organizations and processes (Strauss 1959; Rose 1962 cited in Hall, 1987, p.1). Rather than whole organizations institutions, theorists identify an assemblage of networks — as Howard Becker would suggest — which accumulate a relatively large amount of power through distributions and resource allocation (Hall, 1987, p.2). Moreover, the contribution of George Herbert Mead allows researchers to better understand social control and collective behavior (Matsueda, 2006). In relation to the organizational environment, interactionism discerns the shared patterns, beliefs, and the social identities existing within it.

Global Expansion of Coca-Cola

The varied critiques towards multinational corporation Coca-Cola are a result of utilizing different organizational perspectives. The works of Barkay (2011), Ciafone (2012), Gill (2007), Gopinath and Prasad (2012), and Raman (2007) have a type of analysis akin to critical theorists, especially with the attention towards the plight of the workers in relation to the interests of the elite. Research conducted by Fritz, Kaestner, and Bergmann (2010) and Moses and Vest (2010) carry on the perspective of symbolic interactionism. The former tackles the improvement of frontline employees, while the latter deals with symbolic status of Coca-Cola as an inspiring advocate for corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Rights of Employees

The study conducted by Gill (2007, p.235) analyzed how the new wave of capitalism in Colombia has led to state terrorism against the workers of the Coca-Cola Company who are protesting against the violation of their rights. One of the primary concerns of critical theorists is how power becomes maintained to exploit others. In this case, Gill (2007, p.237) characterizes impunity as the aspect of power which enables both government officials and corporate executives to legislate for policies enforcing inequality. Both men and women suffer beyond their respective workplaces in Coca-Cola, as some report that social networks and basic social units such as their families were negatively affected by the threatening oppression, igniting violence even among members (Gill, 2007, p.237). Finally, Coca-Cola as a company understood that dominating the global market meant dealing with the reigning organizations in the target countries, including Colombia that has a history of leaders rising from activism and leftist ideologies (Gill 2007, pp.242-243). The critical theory, with its opposition to exploitation and is aware of the larger historical and socio-political context by which those with interest in rising to power should heavily invest on.

Corporate Social Responsibility

While the Coca-Cola businesses located in Colombia are facing the issue of protests amidst violations of human rights executed through state terrorism, the work of Raman (2007, p.103) notes how even the CSR events of the global corporation is another legitimizing tool to maintain the power structure wherein the few rule over the many.Coca-Cola, considered as one of the largest oligarchic economic forces in the world, has had its share of CSR activities. In line with this, Raman (2007, p. 104) stated how even the apparently favorable practices of sustainable development, social capital, and transparency justify the rule of the few. The motto of Coca-Cola about instilling corporate responsibility in every aspect of the business has been a device to counterbalance the public dismay of the transnational company, especially in Colombia, India, and the Philippines (Raman, 2007, p.106).
In 2011, Barkay conducted a case study about Coca-Cola in relation to CSR programs and their actual social impact to the affected communities. The global campaign of the company was studied, and it was revealed that the policies and activities do not result into definite actions and social impact, strengthening the idea that community programs — and CSR events in general — are performed to suit the interest of the business first, rather than that of the target community (Barkay, 2011, p.284). In relation to this, the study applied a critical approach as it discerned how Coca-Colaoperations in Israelcould generate a positive reputation despite the growing trend of health consciousness. The physically active lifestyle endorsed by the company — through the renovation of public playgrounds — seemed to have worked, but only to the extent that these kind donations from the company would lessen criticisms about their unhealthy beverages (Barkay, 2011, p.282-284).

Resistance of India

Finally, two other studies applied the critical theory in relation to two different issues. The first one, made by Ciafone (2012, p.114) critiqued how the lucrative Coca-Cola business in India has led to the environmental movement of affected peasants in the 21st century. Ciafone (2012, p.114) remarked how the organization and its practice of resource exploitation to the demise of the poor fed the greed and consumption of those who are financially well-off. Moreover, the advertisement campaign by Coca-Cola relevant to the culture of India showed the hegemonic nature of the oligarchic corporation to further its economic interests (Ciafone, 2012, p.117). The final research conducted with the critical theory in mind was conducted by Gopinath and Prasad (2012), also putting emphasis on the supposedly strategic exit of the transnational corporation in India. Specifically, the researchers stated how International Business [IB] textbooks have been using Coca-Cola as a managerial and organizational role model adapting to an environment containing political turmoil. Gopinath and Prasad (2012, p.227), through critical hermeneutics, it was revealed that India has historically accumulated a negative and rather stereotypical image in the eyes of developed Western nations, which then led IB textbooks to see the problem in the regulatory policies of India rather than in the exploitative practices of global corporations such as Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola and Interactionism

A study conducted by Fritz, Kaestner, and Bergmann (2010) revealed how Coca-Cola is trying to increase profits and worker output by providing efficient programs that would allow those in the front line — the people who directly interact with the customers and consumers — to realize their place in the organization. Called the CCE Pathway, workers are trained in a program not only to fulfill the satisfaction of the customers, but also to correct the misguided beliefs of some with regards to how they should function in the organization (Frtiz, Kaestner, and Bergmann, 2010, p.15). The research has the symbolic interactionist perspective as it notes how changing the subjective realities of workers by promoting a better working and learning environment can lead to greater profit than before.
With regards to CSR, the work of Moses and Vest (2010) provide a symbolic interactionist understanding. The battle between PepsiCo and Coca-Cola to see who will dominate the carbonated beverage market in South Africa was embedded with the importance of statuses and symbols. The symbolic status achieved by Coca-Cola in the United Statesmeant that it would be not be taken lightly by South Africa (Moses and Vest, 2010, p.236). Due to the negative interpretation of the words and actions of both corporations, especially with how some noted that they were a sign of exploitation during political dissent, they would leave South Africa in the mid-1980s (Moses and Vest, 2010, p237). Finally, Coca-Colareemerged andeventually succeeded because the organization utilized its proven marketing strategies alongside a dedicated effort to instill their product to the culture of South African societies (Moses and Vest, 2010, p. 240). The organization lent itself to the community, establishing a shared culture that would give Coca-Cola an advantage over PepsiCo in the long run.


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