TerraCycle—a company co-founded by Canadian entrepreneurs Tom Szaky and Jon
TerraCycle—a company co-founded by Canadian entrepreneurs Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer—makes a wide range of eco-friendly products from garbage. Szaky observes that the primary purpose of business has always been to make a profit. Early in the last century, some businesses engaged in some unreasonable activities—such as the use of child labour—in pursuit of profit. About 30 years ago, a
TerraCycle—a company co-founded by Canadian entrepreneurs Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer—makes a wide range of eco-friendly products from garbage. Szaky observes that the primary purpose of business has always been to make a profit. Early in the last century, some businesses engaged in some unreasonable activities—such as the use of child labour—in pursuit of profit. About 30 years ago, a new type of business emerged, one that was concerned about the environment. But it simply passed on the cost of being green to its customers. An even newer approach is called eco-capitalism, where the goal is to do the best thing for the environment and for society, and to do so while making more money than the big, traditional companies. In eco-capitalism, the goods drive the money instead of the money driving the goods. When TerraCycle started out, it was financed on business plan contest winnings and the credit cards of its co-founders. Eventually, a few investors were found who were willing to put a large amount of money into the business. But Szaky felt that they wanted to move the company away from its eco-focus, and he was not willing to do that because it would not be consistent with the vision and culture that he wanted to establish at TerraCycle. Albe Zakes is the company’s director of public relations, and he says that TerraCycle is actually “making a difference.” The company is not just riding the eco-friendly wave. It is making products that are useful and environmentally sound. Its culture is the new face of business. It is young, hip, eco-friendly, and socially responsible, and has a good relationship with the local community where it operates. Most of the workers are in their 20s, and the action is fast and furious. There is so much going on that there is no time to really organize. The culture is one of “let’s get this job done and then move on to the next one.” The external walls of the company’s factory—which are covered with graffiti—give a hint about what the company’s culture is like inside. Zakes says that TerraCycle has the most colourful headquarters in the country. A “graffiti jam” is held every year, where up to 50 artists paint original graffiti on TerraCycle’s external factory walls. It is a community event, and includes kids from different summer programs in the area. One advantage for TerraCycle is that the factory gets repainted every year. Zakes says that the company is very aggressive and takes a lot of risks. It does not move slowly through research and development like a lot of big companies do. Rather, at TerraCycle, employees figure out what works and run as fast as possible with it. In that kind of culture, everyone must be very flexible and willing to change direction quickly. The work is very demanding, and people are given a lot of responsibility. Because everyone is on a first-name basis, they feel very close and can bond together to overcome challenges. 1. Describe the organizational culture at TerraCycle. How is it different from what you might find at a more traditional organization? How is it similar?
2. Is the way TerraCycle’s culture developed consistent with what is proposed in Exhibit 10-3? Explain.
3. The walls at TerraCycle are covered in graffiti, the company holds graffiti jams, and now the company is selling graffiti-covered plant pots. Explain why graffiti is such a large part of the organization’s culture.
4. Being socially responsible and eco-friendly are top priorities at TerraCycle. Explain how those values permeate the organization.
5. Each of the seven primary characteristics of culture can range from low to high. Rate each of the seven characteristics at TerraCycle. Explain your ratings.
6. The responsibilities associated with most positions at TerraCycle appear to be very loosely structured. Discuss the benefits of having an organization where flexibility is part of the job.
7. Explain how Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, views the evolution of the “greener company.” Do you agree with his perception of how business has changed over the years?
8. Would you like to work at TerraCycle? Why or why not?
1. When describing the organizational culture at TerraCycle , most students will probably focus on the young, hip atmosphere that seems to prevail. The vast majority of the company’s employees (incl…View the full answer