School of Communication and Digital Content


Master of Arts in Communication (MA)


Angela Widgeon

Primary Subject Area

Business Administration, General; Business Administration, Marketing; Mass Communications; Sociology, Organizational


Branding, Corporations, Culture, Organizational Theory, Rhetorical Analysis, Starbucks


Advertising and Promotion Management | Arts Management | Business | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Marketing | Organizational Communication | Public Relations and Advertising


Many corporate brands tend to be built on a strong foundation of culture, but very minimal research seems to indicate a thorough analysis of the role of an organizational's culture in its entirety pertaining to large corporations. This study analyzed various facets of Starbucks Coffee Company through use of the cultural approach to organizations theory in order to determine if the founding principles of Starbucks are evident in their organizational culture. Howard Schultz' book "Onward" was analyzed and documented as the key textual artifact in which these principles originated. Along with these principles, Starbucks' Website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube page were analyzed to determine how Starbucks' culture was portrayed on these sites. The rhetorical analysis of Schultz' book "Onward" conveyed that Starbucks' culture is broken up into a professional portion and a personal portion, each overlapping one another in its principles. After sifting through various tweets, posts and videos, this study found that Starbucks has created a perfect balance of culture, which is fundamentally driven by their values and initiatives in coffee, ethics, relationships and storytelling. This study ultimately found that Starbucks' organizational culture is not only carrying out their initiatives that they principally set out to perform, but they are also doing so across all platforms while engaging others to do the same. Based on these findings, this thesis aims to test the permeation of culture in corporate brands while posing a challenge for future research to classify social media sites as a part of culture. Also, the findings of this study propose a re-examination of Kennedy and Deal's culture types in order to adapt to Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies.