Then he checks the bank account and is amazed to find out that over $300,000 dollars has siphoned off to them in just a short time. He, Samir and Michael are panicked and sure they will be caught. Peter, reasserting his moral code, says he will take full responsibility, writes a note confessing the crime, and places it, along with travelers' checks paying back the total amount, under Lumbergh's office door late at night. Joanna forgives him amid his assurances that love is more important to him than job satisfaction.
Be that as it may, justice is on its way to Initech. Milton, having finally snapped, enters the building to reclaim his red stapler the morning after Peter's visit. Unable to find it, he lights a fire and burns down the entire office.
Peter finds a job that provides him with far more satisfaction. It is more physical, better suited to his desire to work outdoors, and it gives him far more opportunity to use his body than the former cubicle-bound position did. In short, he becomes a construction worker. On his first day of his new job, he is assigned to a crew that cleans up after the Initech fire, and while performing that task, he finds Milton's red stapler in the wreckage. He returns it to him, in effect establishing a link between them that did not exist while they both worked together at Initech.
Peter, Samir, and Michael are relieved by the fire, thinking that it must surely have eliminated the evidence of their crime -- both the note and the travelers' checks. However, in the last scene of the film we learn differently. Milton apparently found the travelers' checks and took them, using the money to pay for a relaxing and long-overdue vacation to a tropical island. He does not, of course, inform his former bosses about the scheme launched by Peter, Michael, and Samir.
While Peter remains happy in his construction job, Samir and Michael do not change industries but immediately find better employment at another software company, with the ominously similar name of Initrobe. We are left to wonder whether they will ever attain psychological and professional satisfaction at work.
Office Space can be analyzed from a number of OB perspectives. In terms of organizational justice (Greenberg, 2010), the examples presented are strictly of a negative character. None of the employers (with the possible exception of Peter's construction company at the end) treat their workers with justice or affirm ethical business practices. The management consultants, despite their role as foil to Initech, do not set a better example, with their flagrant disregard for the welfare of anyone but themselves. One consequence of this unethical corporate behavior is that it encourages unethical behavior on the part of the employees, both the disgruntled (Peter, Samir, Michael, and Milton) and those who want to be part of the system (Lumbergh).
For the standpoint of motivation, the film contains examples of internal motivation (Peter's desire to change his life; his friends' desire for revenge) and external motivation (mainly threats directed at worker and managers). Workers are de-motivated by a belief, supported by observation, that they will not be rewarded for jobs well done but that the credit will be appropriated by a manager. According to Frederick Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory, workers will be happy and satisfied if certain conditions are met, including being given responsibility, meaningful tasks, good physical conditions, and the possibility of advancement. (Herzberg, 1993). At Initech, the Herzbergian hygiene is extremely poor. McGregor's concept of Theory X and Theory Y is also relevant here. In Theory X, managers conceive of workers as essentially passive and in need of strong external motivation, including by fear. In Theory Y, workers are assumed to have internal motivation to excel and to require more affirmation than micromanagement. Clearly Initech adheres to Theory X
The group dynamics in Office Space are noteworthy. In an environment where workers feel alienated, a strong bond develops between workers at the same level who share a sense of oppression. That happens with Peter, Samir, and Michael -- though their camaraderie does not benefit the company at all, but rather the reverse. The group dynamic across levels of hierarchy is dysfunctional, characterized by insincerity and false communications, epitomized by Lumbergh's lame motivational speeches. And the pivotal subversive plot element is delivered by the employee, Milton, who is absolutely excluded from every group.
Finally, organizational structure and culture are depicted in this movie. At Initech, there are elaborate rules for dress, rituals for communication through standardized forms like TPS reports, stereotyped language like Lumbergh's platitudes and circumlocutions meant to disguise the nastiness of what he is saying, and group rituals such as birthday parties that are supposed to create solidarity and group identity but fail to. In the restaurant where Joanna works, the wearing of symbolic accoutrements and the policy of speaking to customers in a stilted, over-friendly manner constitute the organizational culture, which also fails to satisfy the employees emotionally or professionally. As with all else in this film, there is no good to be found in the corporate organization.
Drucker, P.F. (2006). The practice of management. New York: HarperBusiness.
Greenberg, J. (2010). Behavior in organizations (10th edition). New York: Pearson Education.
Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B.B. (1993). The motivation to work. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction.
May, Steve, ed. (2006). Case studies in organizational communication: Ethical perspectives and practices. London: Sage Publications.
Miller, Katherine. (2006). Organizational communication: Approaches and processes. (4th…