McDonald's: Behind the Arches Summary & Study Guide

John F. Love
This Study Guide consists of approximately 29 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of McDonald's.
This section contains 532 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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McDonald's: Behind the Arches Summary & Study Guide Description

McDonald's: Behind the Arches Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on McDonald's: Behind the Arches by John F. Love.

Behind the Arches is a history of McDonald's from its pre-history and inception up to the mid-90s when the book is published. As the author notes in the forward, many people know the outer face of McDonald's, which is carefully managed. However, very few people understand how it works, not only in terms of its corporate management, but in food production, product development, franchiser-franchisee relations, and so on.

When people ask about McDonald's workings, the corporation usually points to Ray A. Kroc, its legendary founder. However, the book shows that while Ray Kroc was a crucial figure and a brilliant manager and salesman, many other people contributed to the growth and success of McDonald's in important ways. The author covers these figures in great detail; from the original McDonald's founders, Dick and Mac McDonald, to McDonald's first major financier, Harry Sonneborn, to Kroc's successor, Fred Turner, a surprisingly diverse and interesting cast of characters fills the book.

McDonald's is the second most recognized brand in the world, but few truly understand how extraordinary its accomplishments are. Over 96% of Americans ate at McDonald's in 1995; in the same year, it had 14,000 restaurants and served over 100 billion hamburgers. It is one of the largest employers in the United States, with half-a-million workers and is the country's largest producer and consumer of beef. It even claims 5% of the United States' yearly potato crop.

Most will recognize that McDonald's has incredible economic power within the fast-food industry, but few realize that it has the same massive impact in nonfood industries as well. McDonald's makes an enormous amount of money from real estate by leasing the land on which their restaurants are built and then sub-leasing the land again to their franchisees with mark-up. It has revolutionized food processing in the United States and across the world. Its product development team is among the more sophisticated research teams in any food-oriented corporation.

McDonald's character is least understood, however. Ray Kroc was not only a great entrepreneur, he instilled McDonald's corporate culture with a sense of pride, fierce loyalty, fastidiousness, ferocious competitive spirit and an appreciation for cooperation and trial-and-error methods of discovery. He set up McDonald's on a decentralized franchising model, wherein McDonald's allowed franchisees a wide berth of freedom to experiment with their restaurants as they saw fit. McDonald's has often conflicted with their franchisees but by and large treat them well and listen to their ideas for making the corporation better. Kroc made McDonald's a success because he gave his franchisees an incentive to innovate. The same holds for McDonald's suppliers, which are decentralized businesses in themselves.

Behind the Arches is a long book full of in-depth analysis of every aspect of the McDonald's corporation. It has a foreword and epilogue and seventeen sizable chapters in between. It runs largely in chronological order, with some chapters using a historical orientation and others focusing on particular aspects of production within McDonald's superstructure. The writing is structured as a narrative and the author is clearly writing an apology for the corporation. However, it forms a powerful case for admiring one of the United States' and world's most successful (and often most reviled) corporations.

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This section contains 532 words
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Buy the McDonald's: Behind the Arches Study Guide
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