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SOC El Camino College Saturn Car Company Discussion

SOC El Camino College Saturn Car Company Discussion


  1. Mechanistic vs. Human Approaches to Organizations: In sociology and organizational theory, mechanistic and human approaches represent two contrasting ways of understanding and structuring organizations. The mechanistic approach views organizations as rigid, hierarchical structures with a clear chain of command and specialized tasks. Decisions are often made at the top and communication flows in a vertical manner. On the other hand, the human approach emphasizes the importance of flexibility, collaboration, and empowering employees. Decision-making is decentralized, and communication is more horizontal, allowing for feedback and employee involvement.

The story of GM’s experiment with Saturn could relate to these approaches in the following ways: If Saturn initially followed a mechanistic approach, it might have faced challenges in adapting to changing market demands and fostering innovation due to its rigid structure. However, if Saturn shifted towards a more human approach, it could have encouraged employees to contribute ideas, adapt to market changes, and foster a more customer-centric environment.

  1. Organizational Theories and Saturn’s Failure: Several organizational theories could be used to analyze Saturn’s failure. One possible explanation could be the Contingency Theory, which suggests that the success of an organization depends on its ability to align its structure and strategies with the external environment. If Saturn’s organizational structure and practices did not adapt to changing market conditions, such as shifts in consumer preferences and economic fluctuations, it could have led to its downfall.

Another relevant theory is the Resource Dependence Theory, which argues that organizations need to manage their external relationships and resources effectively. If Saturn was overly dependent on GM’s resources and decision-making, it might not have been able to respond adequately to market changes or innovate independently.

  1. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y: McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y are contrasting views about employee motivation and management. Theory X assumes that employees are inherently lazy, dislike work, and need close supervision. In contrast, Theory Y assumes that employees are self-motivated, seek responsibility, and can be creative if given the opportunity.

Applying McGregor’s theories to the Saturn case, if the company operated under Theory X assumptions, it might have employed strict top-down control and micromanagement, stifling employee creativity and innovation. On the other hand, if it embraced Theory Y, it would have empowered employees to take ownership of their work, collaborate, and contribute to the company’s success.

Remember, while these explanations can guide your responses, it’s important to incorporate specific examples from the video and your textbook to provide a well-rounded answer to each question. If you have access to the video, make sure to integrate relevant details to support your points.

SOC El Camino College Saturn Car Company Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a sociology writing question and need the explanation and answer to help me learn.


After watching the video on the Saturn Car Company, respond to the following questions in 2-3 paragraphs.

1) How does the story of GMs experiment with Saturn relate to the differences between mechanistic and human approaches to organizations (Ch. 7 & 8 in your textbook)

2) Using organizational theories, why did Saturn fail?

3) How can you apply McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y to the case of Saturn?

Once you have written your own post, respond to at least two other posts with a few sentences commenting on your classmates’ ideas. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7uGqdE24kpo

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