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An Introduction to Mcdonaldization

In: Business and Management

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An Introduction to


ay Kroc (1902–1984), the genius behind the franchising of McDonald’s restaurants, was a man with big ideas and grand ambitions. But even
Kroc could not have anticipated the astounding impact of his creation.
McDonald’s is the basis of one of the most influential developments in contemporary society. Its reverberations extend far beyond its point of origin in the United States and in the fast-food business. It has influenced a wide range of undertakings, indeed the way of life, of a significant portion of the world.
And having rebounded from some well-publicized economic difficulties, that impact is likely to expand at an accelerating rate in the early 21st century.1*
However, this is not a book about McDonald’s, or even about the fastfood business,2 although both will be discussed frequently throughout these pages. I devote all this attention to McDonald’s (as well as to the industry of which it is a part and that it played such a key role in spawning) because it serves here as the major example of, and the paradigm for, a wide-ranging process I call McDonaldization3—that is, the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world.4 * Notes may be found at the back of the book, beginning on page 233.



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McDonaldization has shown every sign of being an inexorable process, sweeping through seemingly impervious institutions (e.g., religion) and regions
(European nations such as France) of the world.5
The success of McDonald’s itself is apparent: In 2006, its revenues were
$21.6 billion, with operating income of $4.4 billion.6 McDonald’s,...

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