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McDonald’s - Globalization, Culture and Strategy





McDonald’s is the world’s leading fast food chain with (in 2014):

  • 35,000 restaurants in over 100 countries.McDonald’s - Globalization, Culture and Strategy
  • nearly 70 million customers every day.
  • 1.8 million employees.

Its Golden Arches logo (pictured right) has become a symbol of American global capitalism.

In 2010 its profit (after paying tax) was nearly $5 billion on worldwide sales of just over $24 billion,  


Key events


1955McDonald’s - Globalization, Culture and Strategy

Ray Kroc (pictured right) founds the company (as we know it today), eventually buying the business from its original owners, Richard and Maurice McDonald.



The Golden Arches is introduced as the company logo.



First appearance of Ronald McDonald, the clown, to appeal to children.



The Big Mac introduced.



The first 'drive-thru' restaurant opens in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and the Quarter Pounder introduced.



Chicken McNuggets introduced.


2004McDonald’s - Globalization, Culture and Strategy

Jim Skinner (pictured right):

  • becomes chief executive.
  • dramatically increases profits by re-emphasizing customer satisfaction.

Super Size Me, a documentary film, is released, showing the detrimental health effects of solely eating McDonald’s food.


McDonald’s first restaurants worldwide

 McDonald’s - Globalization, Culture and Strategy


USA (Des Plaines, Illinois) - pictured right.



Canada (Richmond, British Columbia)

Puerto Rico (San José).



Japan (Tokyo),

Netherlands (Zaandam, near Amsterdam, the first in Europe)

Germany (Munich).



Britain (Woolwich, London).



France (Strasbourg)

Brazil (Rio de Janeiro).



China (Shenzhen)

Russia (Pushkin Square, Moscow, the world’s busiest McDonald’s).



Morocco (Casablanca), the first restaurant in Africa.



Israel (first kosher restaurant in Jerusalem).


Key people

Ray Kroc


  • joined McDonald’s in 1954.
  • turned it into the global corporation we know today.
  • died in 1984.


Jim Skinner

Chief executive 2004-2012.


Steve Easterbrook

Chief executive since 2015.



Key quotes

Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value

- the company’s four key values created by Ray Kroc.


If you love what you're doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.

- Ray Kroc


Take calculated risks. Act boldly and thoughtfully. Be an agile company,

- Ray Kroc


Faster service, hotter food, greater value, in a relevant environment that our customers loved and wanted to come back to, is the answer to any question you have about the restaurant business.

- Jim Skinner.


I worry about complacency.

- Jim Skinner.


McDonald’s – reasons for its global success


1. Corporate culture (its shared values and beliefs)

Every employee worldwide is inculcated with the company’s customer centred values and beliefs:


a) We place the customer experience at the core of everything we do

Delighting each customer with outstanding QSC&V:

  • quality.
  • service.
  • cleanliness.
  • value.


b) We are committed to our people

Inspiring employees to delight customers through great

  • leadership.
  • recruitment.
  • training

The company has two Hamburger Universities in America and China


c) We believe in the McDonald’s System

This is the “three legged stool” of

  • employees. 
  • suppliers. 
  • franchisees.

In 2012 81% of its restaurants were owned by franchisees who run them within the company’s strict policy guidelines – see point 4.


d) We operate our business ethically 

(according to the highest possible standards of fairness, honesty and integrity)

This assertion is strongly disputed by healthy eating campaigners.

The company has had to respond with healthier eating options.

For example, in Europe it has been driven by the vision of moving from “fast food to good food fast”.

 In 2013, the company announced that it will serve more fruit and vegetables.


e) We give back to our communities

  • helping communities and charity work.
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities helps children worldwide.


f) We grow our business profitably

(making money through delighting customers).


g) We strive continually to improve

McDonald’s sees itself as a learning organization that constantly

  • improves.
  • innovates.
  • quickly responds to changing customer needs.


2. Global strategy

Its global management principles haven’t changed since the days of its founder, Ray Kroc:

  • centrally imposed standards of quality and customer service, and
  • product changes in different countries to satisfy local needs.

This is often referred to as “glocalization” or “act global, think local”.

Global products like French fries and burgers are complemented with local variations.

Even its global brands, Big Mac, Quarter Pounder and Chicken McNuggets, are not sold everywhere.

In India, for example, the Big Mac is replaced by the chicken Maharaja Mac.

Global quality standards are fanatically implemented through:


a) corporate culture (see also point 1)

The company’s values are at the heart of its global strategy which is summed up by its:

  • brand mission (“to be our customers’ favourite place and way to eat”).
  • brand promise (“to provide Simple Easy Enjoyment to every customer at every visit”).


b) intensive staff training.

All employees are trained to achieve global consistency in:

  • restaurant operations procedures.
  • service, quality and cleanliness.


c) constant quality checks 

(at its restaurants and suppliers).

On entering the British market in 1974, McDonald’s had to build its own bun factory, because its suppliers weren’t good enough.


d) standardization 

(of products, pricing and cooking procedures)

French fries are cooked for exactly 3 minutes 10 seconds.


Due to falling profits, in 2003 it re-emphasized this customer driven philosophy in a new global strategy, Plan to Win that was been the strategic bedrock of Jim Skinner’s hugely successful reign as chief executive 2004-2012.

It is based upon the 5 P’s:


(employees and franchisees).


(menu variety, quality ingredients and innovation).


(restaurant environment, convenience and opening hours).

Price McDonald’s - Globalization, Culture and Strategy



  • the global “I’m Lovin’ It” advertising campaign (pictured right).
  • transforming the brand, menus (with healthier options) and restaurants.


3. Localization

McDonald’s modifies its products in different countries to satisfy local demand. For example:

  • porridge (in Britain).
  • wine (in France).
  • lobster rolls (in New England, USA).
  • McWraps (a chicken wrap) - in Germany.
  • halal meat (required by the Muslim religion).
  • McArabia (grilled chicken or beef in pita bread) - popular in the Middle East.

The Chinese have a particular preference for home delivery

Real fruit smoothies have been a winner with health conscious American customers.


4. Franchising

Vital to the success of McDonald’s has been franchising

This is selling restaurants to franchisees (who own over 80% of them) under a franchise agreement that:

  • obliges franchisees to follow company policy.
  • gives them a major share of the profits.

This makes them:

  • highly motivated.
  • very innovative (responding quickly and effectively to the needs of local customers).

For example, franchisees created:McDonald’s - Globalization, Culture and Strategy

  • the Big Mac (by the American Jim Delligatti , pictured right, in 1967).
  • the Quarter Pounder (by another American, Al Bernardin, in 1971).
  • the coffee house, McCafé (by the Australian Ann Brown in 1993).

Only about one per cent of applicants are chosen, and they are given an intensive nine month training programme to learn company policies and procedures.


5. Staff and structure

Organization-wide global policies like quality and customer service are formulated by the company’s top management at its head office in Oak Brook, Illinois, USA.

It also has four divisions that respond to changing customer requirements in each of its main markets :

  • USA
  • Canada and Central America 
  • Europe
  • APMEA (Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa)

Despite the company’s realization that happy employees mean happy customers, its treatment of its people has been controversial.

It trains them well and pays at or above the local pay rate. But it:

  • is in a low paid industry,
  • pushes its employees very hard McDonald’s - Globalization, Culture and Strategy
  • has always been strongly hostile to labour (or trade) unions.

Douglas Coupland (pictured right) in his book, Generation X, coined the term McJob to describe bad, lowly paid service jobs.

The company has strongly defended its job record

In Britain in 2007 McDonald's organized a petition (with over 100,000 signatures) to have McJob removed from the Oxford English Dictionary.


A big thank you to...

McDonald’s for the logos and the restaurant photos.

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