The movie “Office Space” is a satirical version of the challenges identified in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. In the movie, Peter Gibbons, the character played by Ron Livingston is the quintessential corporate employee who characterizes the ailments that the Industrial Psychology aims to identify and cure. Office Space points out some burning issues that have emerged with the evolution of the corporate culture. Motivation Employee motivation is a constant challenge for every organization whether it has a strong and ambitious mission statement or not.
In the interview with the consultants “Bobs” Gibbons articulates it accurately when he states that he is not motivated because any extra effort he puts in might lead to a leap in the share price of the Initech stock or better rewards for his management but he is not compensated in any way. He also bluntly points out that the productive period of his, in a regular week is around 15 minutes. This is a challenge that most organizations face, where the job description leaves a lot to be desired in terms of adequate motivation for its employees to work at peak performance levels for a long duration of time. Management/performance Appraisal
In the vexing issue of cover sheets for TPS, Gibbons is harassed by more than one boss. He might be exaggerating when he says that he has to report to eight different bosses but he is right in the fact that an employee begins feeling highly insecure when his performance is scrutinized with unusual and unwarranted vigor and by more than one supervisor. Personnel Recruitment and Selection In the entire movie, one of the most effective characters, Milton Waddams, so efficiently played by Stephen Root, is shown as an ineffective employee but is never clear what his role and responsibility is in the organization.
In fact he is revealed to have remained in the organization due to a technical glitch though he was sacked five years ago. Any organization needs ot identify every employee’s strengths and weaknesses through its recruitment processes and also nurture their talent through constant training and knowledge initiatives. Change management is an essential function of the management and ineffective handling of such functions leads to the wide spread paranoia that becomes evident in the reactions of the employees towards the external consultants. Team Effectiveness
Initech does have a bunch of talented people in Michael Bolton, Samir Nagheenanajar, Peter Gibbons et al, but fails to build effective team spirit because of the low motivation levels and constant insecurity. Besides every employee is preoccupied with their own woes of the working environment and busy dealing with it, rather than trying to maximize their productivity. Leadership In this movie, the characterization of Bill Lumbergh, played so obnoxiously by Gary Cole ( which means he has succeeded completely) is the perfect example of all that might go wrong with the leadership teams of corporates.
He is a bully by nature and does not take any initiative to listen to his team members. He is a throw back to an older era when bosses were treated like royalty. Today the leadership has to play a more constructive role and infuse a sense of inclusiveness in decision making. The scene where he asks Gibbons to come in to work on both the days of the weekend without any explanation or pretense of asking for an opinion is classic Mike Judge.
When reviewed in detail, Office Space provides examples of almost all the important issues that form the crux of Industrial/Organizational Psychology but the topics mentioned above are the most significant representations of the conflict and the treatment of the movie. While it is important to note the topical significance of the movie, the experience is rendered enjoyable due to some superb performances and believable exaggerations. That, perhaps is the basic reason for the movie’s cult status on the DVD circuit though its theatrical run did not make it a super hit.