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In Mike Judge’s 1999 comedy film Office Space, strategies of organizing are exemplified through chain-in-command job-related communication in the IT company “Initech”. The company is based on the employees’ unconditional obedience to the written policies and procedures, where supervisor-subordinate relationships increase employees’ stress by created communication overload through repetition of the same command. Considering Conrad and Poole’s perspective on traditional strategies of organizing, the workers would be dismissed from the job, if they “do not fulfill established written criteria”, as it happened to the friends of the main character Peter. Considering relational strategies, the employees would make bad decisions, if the “power holders” put up a resistance “by withholding valuable information from subordinates” or confronting the worker, in order to make him quite, as the supervisor Bill Lumbergh did to his subordinate Milton. Considering cultural strategies, the supervisor’s visioning “give employees the sense of direction”, but is not “ambiguous enough to follow flexibility”, which provoked the three friends to create their separate clique, and follow specific participatory decision-making (PDM).

Theoretical Perspective and Contemporary Relevance of the Film

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The film exemplifies barrier-downward communication of traditional strategies of organizing, when “centralization of power in decision-making” of the power holder Lumbergh creates disagreement and conflict between him and the company’s employees, and sets up subsequent job dissatisfaction. The characteristics of relational strategies are exemplified by the three friends’ clique formation through creation of PDM in virus program initiation, which required their “collective responsibility for managing themselves” without being caught in the act of smurfing. In this respect, the characteristics of the cultural strategies are exemplified with the three friends’ creation of subculture, “whose shared interpretation of their organization helps to bind them together and differentiate them from other groups of employees”. 

The film can be considered relevant in 21st century organizations, because it represents an object-lesson of how indispensable, limited job-related communication can “depart considerably from formal networks”, when “informal networks constrain and shape initial opportunities for interaction”, and create “self-directed work teams” with their precarious PDM.

Practical Perspective in the San Francisco DHR

Considering the San FranciscoDHR’s mission statement of leadership, facilitation and innovation, the organization endeavors to create a process of visioning, which is defined “as the communication of a mission for the organization that is noble and meaningful for its members”, when framing should be considered as “the language that communicates vision”, and “relies on subordinates’ memories”.

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