Analysis of Organizational Behavior in the Film "The Devil Wears Prada"
Most movies with the industrial-organizational behavior backgrounds provide a birds-eye view of the inner workings of organizations which are considered complex and fascinating entities which may consist of a group of people or employees, working together professionally. So by examining how these characters, working either independently of each other or as a team, interact with one another enables us to get a clear understanding of “the way and/or how people think, feel and may act” in an organization rather it be slow or fast-paced is often referred to as the study of organizational behavior. Many organizational behavior-related to movies often provide a view into the inner workings of organizations which are complex and fascinating entities that may consist of a group of personnel, working together. So by examining how these characters in the movie, as individuals and or a team, interact with one another enables us to get a better understanding of “the way and/or how people think, feel or may act” within a corporation or business rather it be slow or high paced which is also may be referred to as the study of organizational behavior.
Movies often depict a snapshot into the inner dealings of organizations that are complex and interesting entities that consist of either a single person and/or a group of individuals, who work together professionally. So, to explore how each character, as an individual(s) and/or in groups, deal with each other allows for a clearer understanding of “the way people think, feel and/or act” within a working environment is also referred to as the study of organizational behavior. The movie The Devil Wears Prada, set at a Runway fashion magazine in New York City, is the story of Andrea “Andy” Sachs, an aspiring journalist who gets the job that “a million girls would kill for”.
After graduating from Northwestern University, Andy lands the dream job as assistant to Miranda, the chief editor of Runway of the top-selling fashion magazine in the industry. It is a job set to fast-track her career in journalism. If she can survive a year working for Miranda then she can get the dream job she really wanted. Andy not have any sense of fashion at all, begins a fish-out-of-water, as she is thrown headfirst into a lifestyle that she wasn’t used to. Andy works really hard to deal with Miranda's endless unimaginable demands and her co-workers rude behavior. She even becomes trendy and classy and when Miranda noticed her change, co-workers were jealous of her make-over. However, she gradually realizes she's working 24/7, and soon her personal life with her boyfriend Nate and best friend Lily is slipping away from her because she's always busy catering to Miranda needs. This helps her to realize that she is losing the things that really matter. She does not want to lose herself, so she walked away from the job that others would kill for and worked somewhere she fitted in and more in her comfort zone. Since not of the work culture, Andy was completely unprepared, uneducated, and new which she should have used an observation method to learn and pick up the necessary skills required for the job in the fashion magazine industry. Also, after learning more about the fashion industry job and why employees are leaving, I would have recommended, she uses the survey method which would be provided during employee exit interviews to learn more about why employees are quitting and/or leaving at such a high rate.
She is hired as the second assistant to Miranda Priestly, the powerful, ruthless, and feared executive of the magazine. The job is her stepping-stone into the world of publishing and if she lasts a year in the often unreasonably demanding position, it will open up avenues into the journalistic position she desires. Andrea works in collaboration with the first assistant, Emily Charlton, to quickly learn Miranda’s behaviors and preferences so that she can try to meet expectations. This includes being at Miranda’s beck and call 24/7 and completing nearly impossible tasks with constant trepidation of the editor’s wrath.
Along the way, Andrea transforms her attitude and behavior along with her simple and plain style in order to gain acceptance and be adapted into the magazine company. In this paper, we will examine the organizational behavior concepts of perception, impression management, and organizational commitment behaviors as they apply to Andrea, Miranda, and Emily at a Runway fashion magazine. Perception in an organizational behavior context refers to the way in which individuals understand their environment and the processes used to come to an understanding such as interpretation of sensory impressions.
Interpretation of sensory impressions is based on a combination of social settings and actions of others to include the attitudes, experiences, and personality of the individual (Robbins & Langton, 2007). For example, attribution theory states that individuals use internal attribution or external attribution as one approach in perceiving other’s actions. Consistency is assumed to be internally caused because if a person acts similarly over a long period of time, the assumption that this trait is part of the person’s personality becomes easy to accept.
Distinctiveness develops from individuals having similar approaches to different circumstances and also perceived to be internally caused. On the other hand, a consensus is assumed to be externally caused because other people act the same way in similar situations (Connelly, 2009). Throughout The Devil Wears Prada, Andrea is convinced that her boss, Miranda, is a heartless, merciless, stern personality based on the way Miranda reacts to a diverse range of circumstances both in her personal and professional lives. For example, Miranda is demanding when it comes to Runway Magazine tasks as well as errands she commands to satisfy her children.
Andy also overhears a conversation Miranda has with her husband and the condescending tone Miranda uses is apparent in both her home and work lives. This is an excellent example of how Miranda’s consistency in her approach to her work and personal life shaped Andrea’s conclusions in determining that Miranda’s behavior must be internally caused. However, as the plot develops, Miranda opens-up to Andrea and shares intimate details of her personal life. The way Miranda describes her love for her children and takes responsibility for how her divorce will affect the children allows Andrea to see a more human side of Miranda.
Through these small glimpses of Miranda’s life, Andrea begins to question whether Miranda’s approach to work is really a product of internal causations. During the final ten minutes of the movie, Andrea changes her perceptions of Miranda and leans toward the idea that perhaps it is the fashion industry that has shaped Miranda’s tough personality. While perception is the process used by individual(s) in an organization to either understand and/or make sense of others’ behaviors, impression management refers to the process individuals use to control and form others’ impressions of themselves (Robbins & Langton, 2007).
Both Miranda and Emily (the first assistant) provide a clear example of how and why this is done. In Miranda’s case, she uses intimidation as a tool in establishing fear, respect, and power. In the opening scene, Runway employees are seen running around in preparation for Miranda’s arrival. Once she arrives, she speaks in short commands and uses a condescending tone with all personnel irrespective if they have experience or seniority in her fashion magazine company. “Do not bore me with your questions” was Miranda’s response when Andrea asked a follow-up question to Miranda’s instructions.
To make her intimidating delivery more effective, Miranda does not make eye contact with her subordinates nor does she use common courtesy such as please and thank you. If Miranda feels that her above-mentioned intimidation tactics have not worked, she takes to the ultimate intimidation levels with threats of dismissal. Since Emily is not “Miranda Priestly” and does not have Miranda’s power to exert intimidation tactics, Emily gains her respect and power through self-promotion and exemplification. Self-promotion is used by individuals who seem to be viewed as competent and important members of the organization (Connelly, 2009).
For example, Emily explains that Andrea’s job is “just” to get coffee whilst Emily’s duties are much more important such as managing Miranda’s schedules, appointments, expenses, and traveling with Miranda to Paris. Emily also points out that she is entitled to 20 minutes of lunch whilst Andrea is only allowed 15. Self-Promotion and exemplification go hand in hand because both methods try to achieve similar goals. Exemplification is used by individuals who want to be viewed as dedicated to their jobs (Connelly, 2009).
In Emily’s attempts to do just that, upon Andreas return from running errands for Miranda, Emily tells her to “hurry up and settle because I have to pee.” Andrea asks “you haven’t peed since I left? ”to which Emily replies, “I’ve been manning the desk haven’t I.” Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) refers to “discretionary behavior that isn’t part of an employee’s formal job requirements” (Robbins & Langton, 2007). This behavior is entirely up to the employee and undertaken with the intent to help the organization (Connelly, 2009).
Andrea Sachs is an individual who exemplifies organizational citizenship behaviors as displayed through her loyal boosterism and personal industry. An employee’s dedication to the organization can often be gauged by what they say about their job and the company in an occupationally-neutral context. Loyal boosterism refers to the promotion of the organizational image to outsiders (Moorman & Blakely, 1995). It includes defending the organization when other employees or outsiders criticize it, as well as, actively promoting the organization’s products and services (Connelly, 2009).
Andrea face negative backlash from family and friends as a result of the strenuous and time-consuming demands of her job. She was constantly on call and had to drop plans at a moment’s notice or turned down invitations to go for a drink or to hang out, whenever her boss, Miranda summoned or demanded something. Despite, this when faced with dissatisfaction from her dad at the fact she should be pursuing real journalism, she stated, “but I love it there and at least I write emails”. Furthermore, upon criticism of Runway as being inconsequential, Andrea quickly defends the organization stating that “Runway is more than just fancy purses. Loyal boosterism is not part of an employee’s formal job description by any means and yet Andrea displays a commitment and organizational citizenship through her rebuttals to criticisms. Organizational citizenship behavior can also be displayed through the personal industry, which refers to the performance of specific tasks above and beyond the call of duty (Moorman & Blakely, 1995). An individual, who demonstrates personal industry rarely misses work, adheres to deadlines, performs their duties with few errors, and exceeds the expectations (Connelly, 2009).
In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda sometimes expected the completion of nearly impossible tasks, such as when the editor demanded that Andrea obtain the next unpublished Harry Potter manuscript for her daughters. After some initial hesitation in the sense that Miranda was setting her up for failure and trying to force her to quit, Andrea buckled down and set about the task. She not only managed to do what was necessary to obtain the transcripts but had the copies bound with cover art so that Miranda’s daughters wouldn’t get the sense they were reading manuscripts.
In addition, Andrea had two copies delivered to the girls in time to read on their train trip to grandma’s house and made an extra copy for Miranda, “just in case”. The situation is a good example of Andrea taking a seemingly impossible situation and transformed it into an opportunity to showcase the personal industry.
In conclusion, The Devil Wears Prada is a prime example of a movie that examines the multifaceted interactions of a group of individuals, who work together within the Runway fashion magazine industry. Through their interactions with each other and how they think, feel, and act, the characters demonstrate the complexities of organizational behavior (Connelly, 2009). As the movie progresses and the characters develop; they forge colorful relationships, while trying to delicately balance expectations and perceptions. Furthermore, they display an intense dedication to only their jobs but the organization thus shaping their attitudes and behaviors. Organizational behavior is important to the understanding of the inner workings of an organization and how employees and management perceive, manage, and respond to one another.
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