Culture and Organisation – Pixar Report


This is a report generated after a careful study on culture within the Pixar organisation. Accordingly, the reporter found out that culture stood out as the most vital element in any organisation that had to be addressed effectively in order to come up with a very efficient organisation.

Nevertheless, the term culture is at times used to designate the manner in which individuals groom themselves because of the need that arises from without; and that this cultivation has over the years been made objective. Additionally, it was through organisation culture that companies and businesses managed to remain in business and to attain success.

It was by strongly sticking to own organisation culture that businesses were able to remain strongly committed towards the attainment of objectives. Therefore, in the light of this consideration, the author of this report found reason to indulge in explicating the role that culture plays in the Pixar organisation. In order to achieve that, the author presented a framework that begun by emphasizing the importance of culture within organisation.

Secondly, for culture to turn out useful, it had to be guided by principles that recognized organisational objectives, customer satisfaction, superior quality, and teamwork (Peker, 1995). With regard to customer satisfaction, Farris et al. asserts that it designates those customers “whose reported experience with a firm, its products, or its services” goes beyond the expected levels of satisfaction (Farris et al, 2010).

Concisely, organisation culture touches the human resources aspect, the strategic management aspects, and the multicultural aspects, among other vital elements of value to organisational stability. Hence, in order to have a clear grasp of the organisation culture at Pixar, the writer begun by introducing Pixar as a whole and then preceded by identifying the cultural elements that makes up the entire organisation.

Company Background

Pixar Studio for animation is a computer animation corporation that has excelled in the provision of creative as well as technical solutions to the modern consumers.

Additionally, the Pixar animation corporation, since its establishment, has been in business with an aim of combining “proprietary technology and world-class creative talent to develop animated feature films with memorable characters and heart-warming stories” in order to exhilarate its entire audience (Pixar, 2010). It was therefore, observed that Pixar Corporation operates under the inspiration of technology in achieving its objectives.

The history of the company revealed that Pixar had started because of the union of two vital individuals; that is, John Lasseter and George Lucas. Prior to this union, John Lasseter had worked at Disney. George Lucas, on the other hand had been operating the Lucasfilm limited before the establishment of Pixar. Further, it was discovered that ever since its formation, the Pixar Corporation had experienced growth and success thus earning it a number of awards.

Of utmost importance was the fact that the company had been able to pursue its objective of animating its audience through computer generated graphics and movie production. To achieve this success the company had further been able to review its organisation culture in order to fit the continuous environmental changes in consumer preferences and technology.

Pixar operates by presenting different film features, short films, technological awareness, creative teams, and relationships among its members and the Disney group. The author of this report addressed all these aspects in a comprehensive manner. This was aimed at pointing out the role that culture plays in enhancing productivity, creativity and fun in the entertainment industry.

The Environment

Nevertheless, as we pondered over the role played by organisation culture in enhancing effectiveness and progress, we also needed to consider the role that environmental dynamics play in influencing organisational stability. The consideration can be viewed in the light of inquiring upon our responses when faced with the quest to grow and survive in the current competitive and volatile business environment.

Concisely, every business manager is expected to ensure improved productivity, customer satisfaction, as well as superior quality in the provision of products and services (Pfeffer, 1998). This called for constant revisions in all areas of operations. It further called for strategic decisions as opposed to long-term decisions. Whereas long-term decisions enable organisations to stick to their objectives in the end, short-term decisions enable organisations to respond to the volatile environment in an open and aggressive manner (Bae & Lawler, 2000).

Central Issue

One of the cultural issues at Pixar was the formation and sustaining of mergers. The merger between Pixar and Disney, which occurred in 1991, led to production of films. Disney took the responsibility of marketing and distribution on behalf of the merger.

Walt Disney Company (Pixar, 2010) further strengthened this relationship in 2006, when both Disney and Pixar merged leading to the acquisition of Pixar. Their merger and acquisition did not automatically imply that they would increase productivity or performance. In fact, King asserts that acquiring firms do not have to display improved performance (King et al, 2004).

Instead, other factors turn out useful in mergers and acquisition such as diversification. A question that lingers in the minds of many regarding this merger concerns the overall result that such an acquisition produced. Studies have indicated that acquisition and mergers tend to lead to declines in the number of top executives that companies have, while producing increased turnover (Newswise, 2008).

The immediate result of the merger and acquisition by the aforementioned companies was the expansion of market share and technological framework. In many ways, companies tend to incline towards cross-border business endeavours as a way of expanding their market share as well as their cultural standings into international organisation culture (Towers Watson, 2008).

Additionally, the aforementioned merger has facilitated improved technological advancement in various aspects. Technology in this case refers to the various machines, tools, weapons, and other devices that humans produce and use (Bain, 1937). In line with technology, Pixar has seen a vibrant breakthrough in the use of film making computer graphics.

The most successful individuals in this area of entertainment have facilitated this. Since the year 1986, Pixar has facilitated the development of the most technologically superior computer application that is used within the company in the creation of movies.

The Entertainment Culture of ‘Pixar’

The reporter ascertained that the organisation culture of Pixar featured a number of aspects such as clarity, impartiality, enhanced communication among staff members, as well as a readiness to embrace business environment volatility. Because of this, the organisation was identified as promoting a flat structure that was void of hierarchical aspects. In other words, staff members received the same kind of respect within the organisation.

Furthermore, they used the same space no matter to what management level one belonged. Regarding their mode of dressing, it was discovered that members had maintained a dressing code that had been casual (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006). This meant that the organisation, inasmuch as it was formal in terms of its governance, it was also informal in the sense that there was no strictness, especially, in terms of the manner in which members communicated with each other.

The Theoretical Framework

This report was generated under the guidance of Geert Hofstede’s theory of organisations and culture. He came up with four dimensions of national culture (Hofstede, 1993), which have received much recognition from across the globe by many profound thinkers on organisational matters.

In his view, the differences that exist among people result from their level of appreciation of the six value dimensions including power and inequality, collectivism and individualism, uncertainty avoidance and tolerance, masculinity and femininity, indulgence and restrain, as well as on temporal orientation (Hofstede, 1984).

Organisational culture designates “specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organisation and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organisation (Hill and Jones, 2001).” Elsewhere, Kennedy and Deal saw organisational culture as the manner in which things are done within a specific surrounding (Deal & Kennedy, 1982). This explication about culture is closely linked with Edgar Schein’s definition of organisation culture.

According to Edgar, culture designates “a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration” (Schein, 2004, p.17). In Edgar’s view, these patterns have “worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (Schein, 2004, p.17).” In order to understand well the role organisation culture played in Pixar, Hofstede (1984) theory comes handy.

The merging of Pixar and Disney increased overall welfare of the organization culture and its employees, thus helping in merging the cultures of the two organizations. This therefore contributed to the merger’s success. However, Pixar outlined a number of guidelines that would safeguard its “innovative culture”, and this involved allowing its employees to maintain their health package and not necessarily obliged to sign additional employment terms with the Disney.

On the other hand, Disney understood the importance of respecting Pixar’s culture, thus, it willingly did not impose its organization’s culture on Pixar. For example, Pixar had to maintain their email systems and its executives were not compelled to work in shifts at Disney (Barnes, 2008).

The culture of success merger of the two firms was elaborate because of various factors. According to Cummings and Worley (2005), one of the factors was the culture of transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is important in establishing an organization’s atmosphere and culture required for progression, and for fixing innovative and problem solving skills.

Transformation leadership recognizes the essentials of knowledge employees in the acquirements of competing companies and business (Parker, 2000). At Pixar and Disney, transformational leadership was well defined. The innovative power emanated from creative leadership, thus, this supported the available resources and the organization culture present. Secondly, a shared strategic vision existed between Pixar and Disney.

According to Burman and Evans (2008), the success of any merger is largely dependent on shared vision, objectives and goals by merging organizations. Thus, anchored on these principles, there is a sense of direction, reduced apprehensions and uncertainties on issues concerning merger process. Consequently, this provides a cohesive strategy for facing challenges to newly merged firms.

Handy (1985), notes that, effective and coherent organization’s culture could be created if diverse learning process, led by leaders with a shared strategic vision, is embraced. To enhance a success merger, Pixar and Disney composed a formal team of leaders. Each team was given authority; for instance, there was a team leading the “green light” films for all studios, steering committees was also established with the duty of overseeing animations in both studios and sustain the Pixar “culture.

The importance of organization team learning is a central theme of strengthening mergers. Evans (2002) describes team learning as the practice of supporting a team in achieving organizations goals. Besides, team learning anchored on individual mastery and for creative teams, gifted individuals are common (Cheong-Yin, 1989).

The success of mergers is influenced when an organization recognizes the learning culture, thus the shared strategic vision, when embedded in the organization structure contributes to this success. At Pixar, this has taken a different creative route. Barnes (2008) notes that Pixar have entrusted teams with freedom of responsibility, thus they are accountable for their own responsibilities.

Every aspect of Pixar, rather than the managerial style, is intended to motivate collaborative capacity and efficiency. The building plan on the other hand, contributes to employees interactions. The design is planned to exploit unintended encounters. Creativity forms the core fabric of team activities at Pixar; this includes hiring of talents and providing a continuous training for animators at its university.

Generally, at Pixar, learning culture, task culture, the role culture, the person culture, and the power culture as noted frameworks, can be strengthen and improved if better strategies are incorporated (Bae and Lawler, 2000). Improvements can be through strategies such as; encouraging steady teamwork, efficient workforce, enhancing cultural network in the organization, effective selection, and socialization strategies and strong dedicated leadership within the organization.

Cultural Problems at ‘Pixar’

From the aforementioned discourses relating to culture, it is important that we acknowledge the cultural problems present at ‘Pixar’. To start with, we take note of the fact that the culture of fan witnessed carries with it many problems that other corporate organisations do not bear.

This comes because of the fact that most individuals tend to shift from seriousness as fan takes prominence of other corporate matters. Furthermore, the existence of flat relationships among staff members tends to make it hard for superiors to administer discipline and professionalism. This in many cases reduces the amount of strategic control as opposed to operational control.

In addition, as is the case, strategic control tends to be vital in responding to changes in the organisational environment. Another problem comes because of the nature of its movies after the merger. According to Weinman, the organization had a tendency of producing movies that were more of art films (Weinman, 2008). This observation has led to a conclusion that merger might have failed to auger well with the organisational culture that was expected at Pixar.

Culture and Its Importance

Culture is encompasses a person way of life. Either, it can be national or societal pertains of behaviour (Deresky, 2008, p.37). Nevertheless, culture is very instrumental in mobilizing people towards the attainment of objectives. Additionally, culture provides meaning towards what people do in organisations. For instance, at ‘Pixar’ employees are able to embrace the culture of fan or entertainment which means that they have to ensure that they are in line with that particular behaviour pattern.

Cultural Issues at ‘Pixar’

Pixar was a social organisation that bestowed so much concern on its members. As observed in its onset, Pixar had started with a team of about fifty employees who had the autonomy of offering their creativity to the company in a very entertaining manner. All these members had a mandate of performing effectively.

It was the duty of the human resource managers to oversee the elevation of Jablonski’s participative management (Jablonski, 1992). Participative management took care of an all-inclusive participative administration with an aim of cutting down the top-down aspect of leadership (Jablonski, 1992).

Because of this, the organisational projects and policies were attained through a close link between all the staff members. This, as a result, brought the reporter to the consideration of what leadership entailed. In terms of leadership, Roger Gill had noted that most organisational failures were because of poor leadership as opposed to poor management (Gill, 2007). Thus, as Mohamed Zairi observed, leadership called for the empowerment of people, their recognition, as well as their growth (Zairi, 1994).

The organisation culture of Pixar was structured in the sense that it recognized this leadership structure. Throughout its entire structure members were bestowed the capacity to render their contribution to the corporation in the most free and fair manner. Their creativity and proficiency was highly recognized so much that they were able to provide various animations in relation to their creativity and humour.

Additionally, while considering leadership in Pixar, another element of concern had risen. This was relating to the idea of teamwork. Deming who observes that all leaders in their capacity should be able to work as a team so that relational barriers among staff members are maintained minimally (Deming, 2000, p.117) assertively presents teamwork in organisations.

Whenever barriers among leaders and staff are eliminated, problems encountered in any department are shared and solved amicably thus avoiding any instance of leadership wrangles. Additionally, the mode of decision making in Pixar was horizontal as opposed to vertical. In this kind of decision-making, all members had the autonomy to offer their contributions in the managerial section without any difficulty.

Hence, by engaging all members of staff in the decision making process, Pixar was able to promote team learning, the principles of shared vision, and two-way communication framework. Furthermore, it is through the elevation of teamwork that personal mastery is achieved. It was also through the promotion of team learning that individuals were endowed with the required talents to perform their duties.

Therefore, Gilbert in full affirmation of team learning proceeded by observing the existence of strong confidence on teamwork in which individuals had the freedom to bring out their very best in terms of their abilities. This as a result called for freedom in terms of management, teamwork or rather collective work (2007, p.1).

Nevertheless, in line with the entertainment culture, the organisation premises were structured to maintain an environment that was entertaining, creative, and volatile. This stood out because of the decorations that appeared in various offices featuring different toy pictures.

Any visitor to the organisation premises was received with inviting images starting from the entrance to the various offices. One thing that stood out whenever visiting the Pixar studios was the inviting ambience that allowed for a close interaction between the employees.

Further, this close and interactive environment was enhanced by the fact that there were no hierarchical features at Pixar and that the entire organisation was managed by a flat organisation culture in which case regard for authority did not offer much change. Various games were. In addition, whenever people interact by sharing thoughts, there is bound to be increased creativity as assertively provided by Silverthrone (2008, p.1).

Entertainment is so pervasive that it encompasses the entire global village (Johnson, 1988). Furthermore, in order to increase in its market share Pixar ensured that it attained a greater customer scope in order to enhance its brand image as well as its market share. And as observed through its organisational website, the structure resembled the manner in which offices were structured.

Upon logging into their website, Pixar presented a number of toy images that reflected the reality experienced in various parts of the world. Furthermore, the reality presented in the website offered an image of creativity and fun. Hence, whenever a customer was to visit the company’s site on the web, he or she was to be encouraged to dig deeper and enjoy more features from the company.

Dimensions of National Cultures

Power Distance

According to Hofstede, power distance designates “the extent to which less powerful embers of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.” (Hofstede, 2005, p.262)

In other words, power distance is that point at which employees are fully cognizant of the fact that their superiors have more control over them contrary to their wishes. The power distance at Pixar is centred on personal responsibility. At Pixar, managers, in rare occasion’s minds their own recognition thus the employees do not feel threatened by their influence.


According to Dowling et al (2008), individual dimension of culture relates to the extent to which a community fosters collective or individual success as well as social relationships.

Therefore, in a community where the rights of individuals take prominence over those of the society, it means that the individual dimension is by far regarded as being more superior compared to collectivist. At Pixar, individuals contribute to the growth and success of the organization. The interactions of individuals at Pixar have contributed to achieving goals and purpose of its operative activities.

Uncertainty Avoidance

In some cases, organisations might establish a certain level at which they can accept or avoid uncertainties. Therefore, this dimension calls to mind the consideration of the manner in which a society is able to tolerate incidences of ambiguity and uncertainty (Francesco, 2005).

In relation to Pixar, wells established and strengthened rules and regulations have been put in place thus; this has played an important role in guiding employees in the organization. This has avoided uncertainty, stress and anxiety in the organization. Besides, Duties and rights have been well outlined and controlled by senior management


Pixar will increase its services and gain competitive advantage in the film industry if it strengthens three major points. One of the issues is communication. Communication is an important aspect of organisation culture. Poor communication frameworks impair organisational performance while efficient communication systems bring forth improved product or service quality. Thus, Pixar will benefit by embracing two-way communication and knowledge sharing in addressing organisational effectiveness Richards and Palmer (2000).

Secondly, Pixar has to strengthen employee satisfaction initiatives. Employee satisfaction is one of the most important elements in an organization, when employees are not satisfied, they cannot contribute effectively to an organisation strategic goals (Daft, 2004). Therefore, Pixar has to institute a number of factors to promote employee satisfaction; this will include proper office design, flexibility, and employee appreciation, and well-calculated compensation packages, opportunities for development and growth (Francesco, 2005).

Lastly, continuous training and development, organizations are endlessly expanding and hence, new opportunities are created. An organization which has the right skills and creative workforce seems to fair well in modern global business environment (Chaudron, 2010). Pixar can enhance training and developments programs to remain competitive against its rivals in the business line.


Organizations operate in different environments. Thus, for them to maintain stability and success they must continually embrace trend that recognizes the changing environmental conditions and their influence on organisational performance and sustainability (Iwaarden & Wiele, 2007). Besides, the importance of organisational objectives influences how organisational culture is executed.

The significance of casual or informal modes of association helps an organization to establish an environment of knowledge sharing and acquisition which consequently necessitate rise of creativity and technological advancement in the, organization (Nembhard & Edmondson, 2006).

However, In order to ensure that it is attained, it is important for an organization to carry out a cultural due diligence. This is aimed at creating an awareness of the environment and organisational objectives that offer a tremendous impact on organisational performance.

By embracing team building and synergism, a learning culture is developed in an organization, which ensures that individuals acquaint themselves with the volatile organisational environment.

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