Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Organizational Culture Theory- The Devil Wears Prada

In the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada” Andy (Anne Hathaway) plays a young girl who is hired as the boss’s secretary by the company Runway. As soon as she is hired she hears horrific story after story of the head of the company Miranda (Meryl Streep). Employee after employee expresses their own tales of Miranda, none of which consist of any positivity. Within the Organizational Culture Theory there are different types of communicative performances. In this scenario passion performance is represented. Once employees hear that Andy is Miranda’s new secretary they enthusiastically overwhelm her with horror stories of Miranda and her past relationships with her secretaries.

In the clip shown above many of these communicative performances are present. The most obvious is ritual performance. First, Andy demonstrates a task ritual. Each day she does exactly as Miranda tells her. Every morning Miranda throws her jacket and purse wherever she’d like on Andy’s desk and it becomes Andy’s responsibility to put these items in their correct location. Also it becomes Andy’s responsibility to fulfill whatever task Miranda asks of her each day. For example, it may be something as easy as retrieving someone’s phone number or something ridiculous such as fetching the next Harry Potter book before it is even released for Miranda’s daughters. Next, Andy demonstrates personal ritual as well. Every day she is responsible to check the voicemail and email for the company. Thirdly, every year the company Runway attends Fashion Week in Paris. It is Miranda’s secretary’s responsibility each year to make sure all aspects of the trip are organized and perfect.

Finally, this clip depicts political performance as well. By throwing her jacket and purse on her secretary’s desk everyday and barking orders, Miranda demonstrates the power she possesses over her employees. She “maintains the bottom line” at Runway and is not afraid to show it.


Jeffrey Roman said...

I watched "The Devil Wears Prada" with my mother about a year back, and all I could remember was Meryl Streep's character being an absolute monster to everyone.

It is true what you said, the passion performances being played throughout the film, everyone giving their own stories of the horrors this boss has done.

The same can be said for most work places, especially my last place of retirement. I won't give the place, but there were always stories flying around about which boss was the worst. When that boss was working, it was always a hard day.

The great part of "organizational Culture Theory" is how broad it can go in regards to various organizations. From clubs to office jobs, every organization has its own environment and creates a culture for everyone.

Lauren Bonanno said...

When we began learning about the Organizational Culture Theory I also immediately thought of "The Devil Wears Prada." This is a extreme example of the theory. It seems that these particular task rituals were in place for many years before Andy even started working at Runway. The way Miranda routinely throws her jacket and bag on Andy's desk every day shows that she has done this to countless assistants over the years.

While Miranda's character is a bit unrealistic many can still relate, because most people have had demanding bosses atleast once in their lives.

Kevin Wong said...

Your example of the political performance is superb. Not only does the movie exemplify her ability to do whatever she wants (like throw her coat and purse on the desk of the secretary), but it also exemplifies task rituals perfectly. Besides doing what she is told all of the time, Andy also always brings "the book" to Miranda's house every night. Good job.