Starbucks: Building Relationships with Coffee Growers

Starbucks: Building Relationships with Coffee Growers

Management is defined as the function that plans, organizes, directs, and monitors people and processes to accomplish set goals and targets using scarce economic resources in the best way possible. Dub Hay, Starbucks Senior Vice President exemplifies the definition of management in a number of ways. First, Mr. Hay shows how he has planned for the coffee maker. He describes how his company has entered into contracts with farmers to produce quality coffee beans for Starbucks. This is essential because it ensures that the coffee maker will never lack raw material for brewing quality coffee “Starbucks: Building Relationships With Coffee Growers.”

Second, he exemplifies superior organizational skills. Organization relates to how the plan is implemented. In this regard, Mr. Hay ensures that Starbucks buys all of its coffee under the fair coffee agreement model in which all coffee beans are bought at fair prices. The prices paid to the farmers cover their cost of production plus a profit margin sufficient to keep them in the business. This in turn ensures that Starbucks continue to enjoy stable supply of quality coffee beans. Third, Mr. Hay also monitors and directs the relationship between the Starbucks and the farmers ensuring that the relationship in mutual and not antagonistic “Starbucks: Building Relationships With Coffee Growers.”

In the video Mr. Hay portrays several Henry Mintzberg’s managerial roles. The roles exemplified by Starbuck’s Vice President include that of a liaison, monitor, and disseminator. As a liaison, Mr. Hay maintains communications with both the internal and external staff. Monitoring and disseminator roles are exhibited when Mr. Hay appears to be very knowledgeable about the emerging trends in the coffee markets (Ansoff, 1991).

The video portrays three core managerial skills postulated by Robert Katz. Firstly, Mr. Hay appears to possess technical skills in the sense that he understands the working of Starbucks all through from the top to the bottom of the firm. Secondly, Mr. Hay possesses superior human skills as seen in the way he manages the employees that work for and the farmers that supply to the Starbucks. Thirdly, Mr. Hay possesses good conceptual skills in the manner he flawlessly relays information about Starbucks in the video (Katz, 2009).

Starbuck is an open system because it allows information to be circulated in and out of the company. The company relies on the input from its public relations team, who bring in crucial information on how their customers are responding to different marketing initiatives. For example, during the Global Economic Crisis, Starbucks introduced the Pairing deal, which allow customers to purchase two items that are paired together at a reduced overall price. This deal had a good reception and it proved the fact that Starbucks cared about its customers.

Starbucks applies the classical, behavioral, and modern managerial approaches in its operations. Under the classical approach, the dominant theory at play is the administrative theory which explains how the Starbucks coordinates its internal operations. Efficiency is achieved at Starbucks by dividing the internal functions into administrative subunits that include commercial, technical, security, financial, accounting, and managerial. The behavioral school of management enables Starbucks to duly recognize the part or role played by both the human component of the business. The human component includes employees, customers, and farmers that supply coffee beans to Starbucks. Behavioral theory enables Starbuck to forge good relationships with the human element in the organization (Adetule, 2011). Additionally, Starbucks also relies on the modern managerial approach. Under this approach, Starbuck has developed its system following the system theory. This theory has enabled Starbucks to maintain an open system by which the company is able to maintain close contact with its employees, customers, and suppliers.


The Starbucks case represents a scenario in which an international brand shows leadership in all managerial fronts. The lessons taken from Starbucks can be applied in my organization in a number of ways. First, as a manager, I will endeavor to know the workings of my organization to become as knowledgeable as Mr. Hay. My organization will benefit from the application of the Henry Mintzberg’s managerial roles that include liaison, dissemination, and monitoring. Liaison will enable me to ensure that I consider all the factors responsible for the success of my organization. Monitoring will enable me gauge how different processes are performing and fine tune them towards the achievement of the organization’s goals. Finally, the dissemination role will ensure that timely information is communicated to the appropriate parties.

The two important managerial theories being applied in my organization include administrative theory and the behavioral theory. The administrative theory has a wide application in my organization as it governs the way in which the organization has been divided into administrative subunits. This theory explains how these different subunits work together to achieve the overall organizational goals. The administrative subunits or departments of the organization include the finance, marketing, technical, human resources, customer delight, and operations departments. The second theory that has found wide application in the organization is the behavioral theory which takes into account the contributions made by the human element in the organization. This theory reiterates the importance of maintaining close relationship with employees, customers, and suppliers.




Adetule, J. (2011). Handbook on management theories. Bloomington: Author House.

Ansoff, H. I. (1991). Critique of Henry Mintzbergʼs “The Design School”: Reconsidering the Basic Premises of Strategic Management. Strategic Management Journal12, 449-461.

Katz, R. L. (2009). Skills of an effective administrator. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

Starbucks: Building Relationships with Coffee Growers. Dir. Global Strategy. Perf. Dub Hay. Starbucks, 2010. Film.


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