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There is undoubtedly a close link between culture internally and other elements of the internal and external environment (Capon, 2004, p.44). According to Handy, the management of organization is not a precise science but more of a creative and political process, owing much to the prevailing culture and tradition in that place at that time (2000, p.9). Similarly, Edgar Schein had highlighted that organizational learning, development and planned change cannot be understood without considering culture as primary source of resistance to change (, 2010.

Culture consists of a shared value, norms and beliefs of an organization reflect in different structures and systems (Handy, 1993, p.180). For instance, how employees communicate within themselves and how main policy decisions are made. A mix of culture is required to implement different task. No culture or mix of cultures is bad or wrong in itself, only inappropriate to its circumstances (Handy, 2000, p.20). Therefore, the purpose of this assignment is to analysis the differing cultures exist in Pixar Animation Studios.

Business Overview

Pixar is one of the famous American based Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) animation production companies. They had been identify as an Academy Award e-learning computer animation studio with their talent in high creative, technical and production capabilities to develop and create new generation of computer animated feature films, short films, merchandise and other relevant products (, 2010) . The objective of Pixar is to integrate proprietary technology and world-class creative talent to develop animated feature films with new three-dimensional appearance, memorable and impressive characters, as well as heartwarming stories which appeal to audiences at all ages (, 2010).

They are responsible for many significant breakthroughs in application of computer graphics (CG) technology over years for filmmaking. Their expertise continually develops wealthy production software since 1986, hence their advance technology such as quality, richness and vibrancy of the animated images, etc bring an advantage to them into the unique position among the industry. Pixar invests heavily in their software systems to improve and enhance their productivity and quality in the making process of animated films, aim to produce high quality digital entertainment.

Pixar and its employees had achieved more than 100 awards and nominations worldwide for animated films, commercials and technical contribution (, 2010), for instance Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Oscar, Grammys and many other awards. Their production animated films includes 'Toy Story', 'Toy Story 2', 'The Incredibles', 'Wall E', 'Up', etc. Typically, the create of 'Toy Story' in 1995 had made a huge leap in their profits with extraordinary net income of US$ 25.3 million and share price up to a high of US$49 per share in fourth quarter result in many major motion picture studios such as Warner Brothers, DreamWorks and even Disney engage in production of computer animated feature films (, 2010).

Pixar was first established as Graphics Group in 1979. A merger with The Walt Disney Company in 2006 had brought Pixar into a new generation and brilliant future. Pixar is now a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Nowadays, there are many animation studios and companies are known as the pioneers among the computer animation industry with their outstanding accomplishment, which include Sony, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, 20th Fox, etc. It indicates that there are many outstanding competitors among the industry.

Pixar as an internationalized studio, the environment and process change to be more dynamic and complicated, due to the technology, environment and social interest factor are continually changing and the process is very fast. They had grown from a regionalized business into competitive global business such as Asian markets. Consequently, the culture of Pixar plays an important role in growing their business worldwide. Pixar as a learning organization does play well in communication within their employees. They understand the way to unleash creative talent of their employees.

Types of Organization

Basically, there are two types of organization: formal and informal organizational. There is a significantly difference between these two, which influence the working behavior and performance of employees in an organization.

Formal organization refers to the structure of well defined jobs which bearing a definite measure of authority, responsibility and accountability (, 2007). Therefore, this type of organization is lack of belongingness and job satisfaction.

An informal organization refer to network of relationship between people in an organization based on friendship, personal attitudes, emotional, common interest, etc (, 2007). There is no set of rules and regulations on procedures, accordingly, the belongingness and job satisfaction can be enhanced.

Pixar Organizational Culture

Pixar is a blockbuster company; nobody has ever come close to challenging Pixar at that highest threshold before (Barnes, 2010).

They are well recognizing as an informal organization by impose organization behaviour values, norms and belief that reflect the organization objective to its employees and work towards all challenges, focus on building up employee's communication and motivation to enhance creativity. It is the reason why Pixar is different from others.

The four organizational cultures by Charles Handy

Considered with central issue of cultural management, culture can be examined bv Handy's organizational cultures. There are four varieties of cultures: power, role, task and person (Handy, 1993, 2000), as shown in table 1 with its patron god. Similarly, figure 1 to figure 4 represent its pictures, each of these cultures carries its own implication. This theoretical framework reflect in a structure and a set of systems (2000, p.19).

Consequently, the formation of Pixar culture is based on factors such as environment, technology, organization history and structure, ownership, building, offices, and etc.

Table 1: The four Gods of management

The Culture

The God









Source: Handy, 2000, p.19.

The Power Culture

Figure 1: The power culture.

C:\Users\jojo\Documents\Northumbria sem 2\HR0372\power.gif

Source: Handy, 1993, p.183.

The power culture is best pictured as 'web', which relies on a central power source with rays of power and influence spreading out form that central figure (Handy, 2004, p.184). Handy concluded the power rings are the centre of activity and influence, which can be either extremely small or large. It is frequently a key personality to others in the organization who sends information down to employees and departments.

This culture is inappropriate to Pixar, due to Pixar provide freedom to its employees. They take important of employee's morale problems and do not restrict their input and ignore any effort to bring up issues. Employees would therefore feel invested in their work result in high productivity.

Pixar's culture is strong with the ability to move in right directions and respond well to any threat and problems according to the environment, due to their innovation culture foster quality employees and experts. Pixar continued success is mainly due to these succession issues.

Pixar do things in both leader and subversive way with the vision in seeing things in different way. They open in conflict by giving the authority to workforce to disagree and give bad news straight to their leaders. Nothing is hidden within their organization. They judge by results and are tolerant of mean.

Their people incline to think intuitively and in wholes. They move fast to a possible solution and test it, adapt to another if the first seems to be unsuited. Their learning culture is not learning logically, in fact they learn by trial or modeling. They prefer respond to stimulus rather than step-by-step analysis. Pixar think holistically, forecasting a wide picture and assessing it.

Moreover, they rely on trust and empathy for its effectiveness and conversation for communication. The control of Pixar is not mainly exercised by the centre through the selection of key employees. As an imagination based company to succeed in long run, Pixar has not focus on generate money, but attempt to create a new generation of animated film.

The Role Culture

Figure 2: The role culture.

C:\Users\jojo\Documents\Northumbria sem 2\HR0372\role.gif

Source: Handy, 1993, p.185.

This culture is pictured as Greek temple, which is frequently stereotyped as bureaucracy. It reflects the functions or specialties of the organization and place of decision making. The interaction within are control by procedures for role, communications and rules for settlement of disputes. Handy (2000) suggested that position power is the main power source in this culture.

The efficient of role culture rely on the logic and rationality of the allocate work and responsibility rather than the individual personalities. It is not subject to constant change and more interested in result rather than methods. Moreover, this culture can be observed where economics of scale are more significant than flexibility or where technical expertise and depth of specialization are more significant than product innovation or product cost. Nevertheless, these characteristics are inappropriate in Pixar which the culture is difference from Pixar way of notion and doing things.

Furthermore, rules and procedures are the main approach of influence. Nevertheless, Pixar's culture does not restrict on employees with any rules. For example, employees are able to keep their relatively plentiful health benefits and were not force to sign employment contracts (Barnes, 2008).

Unlike the others company, Pixar concerned about complacent. They do things in a different way by allowing its employees to express and speak out their idea, opinion and disagree regarding to the specific work task to shake things up and getting work done to avoid complacency. Pixar know the way to interconnect all the strengths of its employees and lead the learning curve of the Pixar straight up. The notion of predictability is build into the whole ethos of Pixar.

The Task Culture

Figure 3: The task culture.

C:\Users\jojo\Documents\Northumbria sem 2\HR0372\task.gif

Source: Handy, 1993, p.187.

This culture is based on project or job oriented, therefore best picture as net. Those groups, task forces or project team are form due to a specific reason which can be reform, continue or abandon. The task culture is characteristic to company like Pixar in which engage in extensive creative research and development activities. Hence, the environment of Pixar is competitive, more dynamic to innovation and creativity compare to others. They have continually subject to change and create a temporary creative team to carry out an animated feature film. They are adaptable and flexible.

This culture support Pixar's intention of creativity and sensitivity in the organization. Pixar believe that involved people and passionate involvement would make for better innovation. They have the valuable skills such as information, technology and expertise. The expertise and up-to-date information had an impact on the team culture. There is a close relationship and liaison among their departments and specialties. Pixar provide a way to get them to put forth their creativity talent in a harmonious way. These combinations of communication and liaison are important issues that allow Pixar to anticipate and adapt to change quickly according to the circumstances. They will push the teams and encourage their employees step out of their comfort zones, express dissent and building morale.

Apart from that, Pixar will spot people who are passive and aggressive within the team and organization, and weed them out. They are not encourage this kind of learning culture without showing themselves among the team but get behind the scenes and peck away.

Pixar is interest and excited in attempt crazy new ideas of the film, they would challenge it and make impossible to possible. For instance, the film 'The Incredibles' had a massive of set which require 10 years and cost US$ 500 million, Pixar choose to challenge it by using a team of people who were malcontents, due to their different ways of doing things. Pixar provide them with a high degree of control over their work to prove their theories. Furthermore, there are easy relationships within the team with low status differentials and mutual respect based upon capacity.

The Person Culture

Figure 4: The person culture.

C:\Users\jojo\Documents\Northumbria sem 2\HR0372\person.gif

Source: Handy, 1993, p.190.

The person culture is often not found in many organizations, yet many individual will cling to certain beliefs and values. The individual is the central point of this culture who determine collectively path, in which the organization pursues. This structure is as minimal as possible. Apparently, Pixar does not exist with this sort of culture. They have their own objectives over and above the collective objectives. Consequently, Pixar encourage employees to have teamwork to generate better innovation thinking through group discussion, instead of bringing up self-oriented people.

Pixar Culture and Office Design

Create a culture of fun in the workplace assist to unleash the creativity potential of employees (, 2010).

The Four Types of Office Design by Francis Duffy

Duffy considered there to be four different types of office design and work processes as shown in Figure 5. This matrix is based on interaction and autonomy organizational variables.

Figure 5: The matrix of office design by Francis Duffy.

An interaction concerning on individual, face to face and eyes contact. It is fundamentally important in implement office task. However, an autonomy concerning on work process level of responsibility, control and discretion of each individual perform. The interconnection between involve many aspect of office design. This will influence presume upon the workplace setting.

The Hive

Duffy (1992) suggested the hive concentrated on individual routine work process with low levels of interaction and autonomy. The hive design does not associate any teamwork result in poor communication and interaction between employees. Consequently, this kind of office will induces low employee job satisfaction and productivity. The culture of the organization workplace would therefore monotonously.

The Den

Unlike the hive, the den design focus on group process, which associates with teamwork. It provides high level of interaction but low level of autonomy. The den design enables the employees to work in groups and has the opportunities to access and interactive in common resources such as photo copier, volleyball court, lounge, etc. This design create a friendly environment allow employees to work informally.

The Cell

The cell design concentrates on autonomy. This design provides higher level of autonomy and little higher interaction than hive design (Duffy, 1992). The disadvantage of this office design may be low degree of belongingness and lack of communication among the employees, partly due to each employee has their fixed workplace result in low interaction with other employees.

5.1.4 The Club

The club design associates with teamwork, which provide both high degree of interaction and autonomy in the workplace. Accordingly, everyone in the organization is able to interact and access with other networks and meet their individual objectives or work in group. The club design enhances the employee job satisfaction and belongingness.

5.1.5 The Office Design of Pixar

Pixar's office design is the combination of den and club design. The den office design meets the task culture of Pixar. Appendix 1 show the photo of Pixar headquarters office design, where located at Emeryville, California.

Apparently, Pixar understand the important of relationship between employees and office design, which would influence the motivation and productivity within the organization. This help Pixar persevere and succeed in long run as efficient as possible. They produce culturally penetrating images and fostering creativity, experimentation and innovation by using the club design, which is typically best for innovation based company.

Pixar had met the satisfaction in workplace. Their office design is well match and appropriate with their activities and meet the employees need. This result in more efficient use of facilities and space, and achieve higher performance of the company and workforces.

In order to stimulate the creative culture, Pixar had created a friendly and flexible workplace. This free kind of atmosphere would increase the creativity. They allow the employees to create their own crazy idea of office design whatever they want, for instance the design of Hawaii, ghost town, etc. Their building design provides the possibility for employees to interact and access to all common resources and communicate with other employees. Pixar believe when employees have eyes contact with each other, things would happen. Therefore, there are high interaction and autonomy among their employees.

In addition, the hive design focus on individual routine work process, which constraint the employees interact and access with other networks induce poor creativity and innovation. And the cell design also provide little interaction and communication between employees. It is apparent that both hive and cell designs are inappropriate to Pixar's learning culture and objective.

The New Office Designs by Jeremy Myerson and Phillip Ross

Myerson and Ross (2006, p.9) considered to be four different 'realms' to offer guidance to manage the spaces design for employee's knowledge: the corporate realm of "academy", the professional realm of "guild", the public realm of "agora", and the private realm of "lodge", as shown in Figure 6 places four types of knowledge workplace.

The contemporary workplace is increasingly the new types of work (Myerson and Ross, 2006, p.8), therefore knowledge of employees are fundamentally important. They need to update everyday due to the nature of their specialized knowledge in a specific area of innovation process, hence knowledge employees and expertise are hard to displace.

Figure 6: The new matrix of office design by Jeremy Myerson and Phillip Ross.

Source: Myerson and Ross, 2006.

According to figure 6, the left side of the matrix represent the tension between office and home life, the right side represent the tension between corporate and portfolio working. This matrix suggested the knowledge work has an implication on the work setting of contained or permeable work, and high or low corporate visibility.

Myerson and Ross (2006, p.9), suggested knowledge employees will increasingly seek to achieve a balance of these four conflicting sets of relationships: colleagues within the organization, professional peers, customers in the marketplace, as well as friends and family. Generally, it is not easy to capture the balance between these four conflicting sets of relationships; the four realms of knowledge work can exist in parallel.

The Academic

Academy refers to a learning campus with a high degree of corporate visibility contained on a specific site, which the employer is developing more collegiate and collaborative approach to work (Myerson and Ross, 2006, p.9). The academy involves employees to share knowledge and skills, as well as consider things from different perspective before drawing any conclusion or decision make.

The Guild

The guild refers to new type of workplace that gathers employees with shared professional skill or specialism. Traditionally, the guilds brought professional peers into regular contact and helped to build knowledge and networks in a specific field. The concept of the guild is to cheer on unintended meeting of employees to enhance different perspective of solutions to solve the problems (Myerson and Ross, 2006, p.11).

The Agora

Myerson and Ross (2006, p.12) described the agora as a public workplace that is integrated into the life of the city and brings the organization closer to their customers and markets. Moreover, they concluded this kind of style are adapt at transformation, changing their mood between day and night and staying in action 24 hours a day, just like the city itself.

The Lodge

The lodge refer to a new building type which target to combines both living and working in one environment, reconnecting the sphere of home and work, which were severed by industrialization (Myerson and Ross, 2006, p.12). This kind of design encourages employees to live and work in the same setting.

5.2.5 The New Office Design of Pixar

The agora design is mainly for marketplace, which concentrates on sales. Hence, this design is inappropriate to Pixar's learning culture and objective, as they are aim to create more outstanding and innovative feature animated films, and a creative learning environment. The office design of Pixar is more appropriate to the guild. They make it a fun experience and bring together professional in meetings to collaborate effectively.

Furthermore, they provide vibrant, atrium like gathering spaces such as for different experts who are mutually involved in the creative processes of animated film-making and broadcasting, for instances writers, artists, technicians, etc (Myerson and Ross, 2006, p.11). A number of facilities such as cafeteria, conference rooms, lounges, etc were established to foster employee's creativity talent and increase the degree of job satisfaction in the workplace.

This also can be seen from Pixar's building design, purposely aim in improve the communication and interaction between employees and networks. For instances, employees need to walk down the hallway on a scooter, they may play volleyball at a volleyball court or swim in an Olympic size swimming pool, accordingly Pixar is best describing as a corporate playground (, 2010).


A notable highlight, Pixar is also unusual of its origin (Goldstein, 2008). After the merger with Disney, films produces by Pixar are still creatively across the globe. However, Pixar is now four generations removed from their original immigrant company. They are more towards educating people and delivering ethical value such as 'Up'. It is recommended Pixar not to remove but to sustain its origin style of computer animation combine with Disney style. These combinations would make a difference to public and the company.

Pixar's office design is like a playground, this had been criticism by many people, due to it sound like a place where no one does anything useful, company is losing money and employees are not diligence. In fact, their good reputation and experts in the animated film industry and its financial performance over years had overthrown this criticism. They had constantly created new crazy idea and new generation animated films. Moreover, they also continually re-examine and re-evaluate things that they do.

While many people debate the need of company to enhance individual productivity, Pixar has already discovered its way of doing things and is reaping the advantage and profit.

Pixar has distinctive cultures allow them to unshackle employee's imaginations and innovation to create a new generation of animated feature films worldwide. This is the secret of Pixar towards highly successful. However, the author of 'Innovate the Pixar Way' suggested putting fun in the workplace can be replicated in any organization (, 2010). Accordingly, this may become a potential risk and threat towards Pixar.

Moreover, the computer animated industry is more dynamic today, which is in the age of rapid innovation. Therefore, Pixar need to ensure employees to be more innovative and higher morale in the way that they ponder, concentrate, compliant, analytical side, passionate sides, playful and imaginative to create films that would fulfil the people's dreams. It is necessary to ensures employees are motivated, satisfied, and provides freedom, which would increase the level of creativity.


Nobody makes better movie than Pixar (Goldstein, 2008). This statement is further enhanced and more reliable after applied these theoretical frameworks to Pixar's culture analysis. The task culture as well as the den and club design have significantly influence to Pixar and its employees.

As a learning organization, the distinctive culture is key for Pixar's success. Pixar is all about originality (Goldstein, 2008). Therefore, deliver the innovation culture is fundamentally important. They have many passionate employees who concern to solve problems and contribute, mainly due to Pixar had create the right innovation environment. They had maximized the inadvertent encounters which can lead to effectively creativity.

Pixar deliver the innovation culture and accomplish the feature of atrium and common space, innovative environmental and sense of belonging to unleash the creativity talent of employees and increase their communication. Furthermore, they encourage experimentation, feedback and question from employees, learn from the mistakes and change according to the work process.

A notable is that, the merger of Pixar and Disney help the studio achieved higher and better performance, which make a difference when everyone work for the same shareholders or management. They make the integration innovation work holds lessons for other employees faced with delicate task of uniting two cultures (Barnes, 2008). They had accomplish the effectively communication changes to employees and are pleased with the way the transformation was progressing.

The accomplishment of Pixar in animated film industry is the evidence for their management skills and learning organization culture, which assist Pixar in making long-term orientation. Indeed, they had putting color into their culture.

8.0 References

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Formal and informal organization. Open Learning World.Com. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 05/05/10)

Goldstein, P. (2008) 'Why Pixar's top of the line'. Los Angeles Times. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 06/05/10)

Handy, C. (2000) Gods of management: the changing work of organisations. 3rd edn. United Kingdom: Arrow Books.

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Magic in the workplace - how Pixar and Disney unleash the creative talent of their workforce. Human Resources Leader. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 06/0510)

Myerson, J. & Ross, P. (2006) Space to work: new office design. London: Laurence King.

Pixar Animation Studios. Funding Universe. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 27/04/10)

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Three levels of culture - Schein, Edgard. Value Based [Online] Available at: (Accessed 27/04/10)