Space, place and the colonies:
re-reading the Starbucks’ story
Department of Management, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to re-examine a celebrity CEO account using a variety of
literary forms to uncover discourses of colonisation. Focuses on the probanza de me´rito and the
wonder tale or traveller’s tale. Ideas of Non-Place (Auge´) and spatial practices (Lefebvre) conclude the
Design/methodology/approach – A close reading of the account of the building of the Starbucks
retail empire, given in the CEO account: Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One
Cup at a Time against the text, gives insights into the strategy and internal logic of the company
founder which might otherwise be missed.
Findings – The account reveals the nature of the published account of the growth of the company as
analogous to many of the accounts of the colonisation of the new world. The analysis of spatial
practices at the company is used to explain some of the most successful resistance to its expansion.
Originality/value – Uses a wide range of theory to unpack celebrity success narrative and reveal
counter-narrative of practice.
Keywords Critical management, Brands, Symbolism
Paper type Case study
Hardly anyone reading this text can have failed to have encountered Starbucks. It is
seemingly ubiquitous. There can be very few readers of this journal who have not at
some point in their lives had a cup of Starbucks coffee or come across the organisation
in contemporary popular culture. In the course of Mermaids, a particularly poor
made-for-TV feature film, June, the marine park worker and clandestine mermaid, is
taken by her prospective beau, Randy, the square-jawed marine patrol man, to a rather
faded fish restaurant, Harry’s. He explains his choice of first-date location to her thus,
“I wanted to pay a visit before they turn it into another Starbucks”. In...