Bureaucracy In Large Corporations: Does Working for Goliath Suck?

One of my big projects as the marketing agency’s intern has been to renew our partnership with Microsoft. I’ve come to learn that Microsoft has a pretty beneficial program where, to put it simply, they give free software in exchange for using and getting clients to use their products in creating business solutions. There’s a lot more to it than that (surveys, client recommendations, loads of certification tests, and so on) but that’s the bottom line.

As a life-long PC user and a Mac hater, I was excited to lead a project that would save the company so much money, give me something valuable to put on my resume, and stick it to Apple.

logo faceoff
Since I’m admittedly not very computer savvy (by digital agency standards that is) the project required me to call Microsoft early and often for support, where I’d be transfer from Joe to Shmoe to Moe who potentially could answer my question. The bureaucracy and inefficiencies of a company that is so well respected, innovative, philanthropic, and profitable surprised me, but I soon realized it’s not just a Microsoft thing. It’s really not a Microsoft thing at all. It’s a BIG thing.

While discussing the project with a co-worker, I made the remark, “I thought only the government worked this way” which prompted him to explain that bureaucracy is rampant in just about all large companies and it’s a major downside to working with or for a really big company.  He went on to explain that he held a job at another major computer company where he was traveling to exotic distant lands, meeting exciting unusual people, and (different from the Marines—God Bless ‘em—slogan below) working with technology he loved. The problem was that there were so many formal procedures and hoops to jump through that he got fed up and left for a smaller company.

great USMC tagline

I’ve also been dealing with graduate school admissions, and after being transferred from department to department trying to solve an issue I further understand the frustration of spending a lot of time and expending a lot of worry over something that is really just a few minutes of work. In addition it makes it pretty clear that this is a common issue, so Microsoft, you’re forgiven. Keep besting Apple.

Apple's suck

On to the point…I’m still waiting to hear from graduate school I just got accepted into UGA’s Master of Marketing Research program. My plan is to get a graduate degree and then work for an client company that would be big enough to have their own robust marketing department, a research firm, or a marketing agency.

I’m curious…Do the advantages of working for a smaller more agile company outweigh the resources available at a major corporation? What are your experiences with big company bureaucracy and what have you done to fix or overcome those hurdles? Does the level of interesting work a big company is able to offer far outweigh the often accompanying inefficiencies? Please share…

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6 thoughts on “Bureaucracy In Large Corporations: Does Working for Goliath Suck?

  1. I obviously do not have the experience to give a completely informed opinion on this, but I would think that one’s satisfaction depends primarily on the particular position, the particular company, and the relationships that person is able to build with other people associated with the company. I’m not sure that this issue can be generalized to “big vs. small companies.” As a good friend of mine says, “All generalizations are bad.” See what he does there?

    Btw, congrats on the UGA acceptance. Now you don’t have to be jealous of me anymore (just playin’).

  2. From the information I’ve gathered since writing this, it seems like it’s all about the company, the culture, the higher ups in management, and to an extent the industry. Yeah, size plays a role, especially when we are talking about the government, but I’m not going to shy away from working with a big company if that’s the opportunity that comes.

  3. I’ve worked for large companies and small, and had both as clients. In a small company, if you have a good idea, you can likely find a way of pursuing it without ruffling feathers. As a company gets larger, it becomes exceedingly difficult to “color outside of the lines” of your stated job, authority and responsibility level. So, it somewhat depends on what type of person you are. If you like regiment, with clear guidelines, you may do better in a larger company than a smaller one. If you get bored easily with doing the same thing over and over, and like to explore tangents to see where they might lead, you’re a small company guy. Chances are that you will make more $ working for a larger company, but unless you like staying withing “guidelines”, you won’t be as happy.

    Let me add, I believe in what Seth Godin has been blogging about for some time. We are in a revolution that will eventually lead to small companies eating up the market share of larger companies due to their lack of bureaucracy, better response times, decision makers being close to the customer, etc. If I were starting my career over, I’d work for a large company for the first part of my career, and then switch to smaller companies. Wait. That’s what I did. Yeah me!

  4. Lets just say I work at the large org mentioned in the article. Bureaucracy is a fucking nightmare.

    I was this close to just leaving and saying I quit on the spot today because of it lol.

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