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Organizational culture

Week 14- 12/12/2008

1. Organisations and culture 2. What is Organizational Culture 3. Organizational cultures functions 4. Creating & Sustaining Culture

Why study culture and organisations?


Global trends increase the frequency and the degree to which individuals from different cultural backgrounds interact.
Perception of challenges to our societies that cannot be tackled by one government alone. Distribution of wealth fosters global migration. More wealth and leisure-time in some parts of the world result in global travel. Improved infrastructure, in particular communication and transport, ease the frequency of interactions. Global business: purchasing, production, and sales.

Why study culture and organisations?



are challenged by the differences in value-systems across cultures. For example:

The western business world (Anglos. & North Europeans) is dominated by the protestant work ethic. Other cultures may mistrust the individual profit motive as value. There may be different perceptions of the line between corruption and networking, and the level to which gift-giving/bribes are accepted as a way of doing business. The family plays different roles in the professional life across cultures.

Why study culture and organisations?



are challenged by the differences in value-systems within the


For instance, the need for achievement differs. Therefore, career prospects may not be an appropriate reward. Furthermore, individuals may differ with regard to their perception of control over their environment, and therefore, their ability to achieve something. Individuals from different cultural backgrounds may have different expectations with regard to job security, personal relations in the work-place etc.

Why study culture and organisations?



when they:

think of managing culture

Operate in multiple cultural contexts, i.e. purchase, produce or sell in different countries, or
Employ a diverse work-force.

organisations follow one of three approaches:

Ignore cultural differences: associated with ignorance. Minimise (the frictions from) cultural differences, which is often associated with ethnocentrism. (Appreciate and) utilise cultural differences.

Culture is the pattern of shared beliefs and values that give members of an institution meaning, and provide them with the rules of behaviour in their organization. (Davis, 1984,1).

Culture is the set of understandings or meanings shared by a

group of people. The meanings are largely tacit among the members, are clearly relevant to a particular group, and are distinctive to the group. (Louis, 1985, 74). Culture is a loosely structured and incompletely shared system that emerges dynamically as cultural members experience each other, events, and the organizations contextual features. (In Martin,

Culture characteristics
Innovation and

risk taking Attention to detail Outcome orientation People orientation Team orientation Aggressiveness Stability

Contrasting Organizational Cultures

Organization A This organization is a manufacturing firm. Managers are expected to fully document all decisions; and good managers are those who can provide detailed data to support their recommendations. Creative decisions that incur significant change or risk are not encouraged. Because managers of failed projects are openly criticized and penalized, managers try not to implement ideas that deviate much from the status quo. One lower-level manager quoted an often used phrase in the company: If it aint broke, dont fix it. There are extensive rules and regulations in this firm that employees are required to follow. Managers supervise employees closely to ensure there are no deviations. Management is concerned with high productivity, regardless of the impact on employee morale or turnover. Work activities are designed around individuals. There are distinct departments and lines of authority, and employees are expected to minimize formal contact with other employees outside their functional area or line of command. Performance evaluations and rewards emphasize individual effort, although seniority tends to be the primary factor in the determination of pay raises and promotions.

Contrasting Organizational Cultures (contd) Organization B

This organization is also a manufacturing firm. Here, however, management encourages and rewards risk taking and change. Decisions based on intuition are valued as much as those that are well rationalized. Management prides itself on its history of experimenting with new technologies and its success in regularly introducing innovation products. Managers or employees who have a good idea are encouraged to run with it. And failures are treated as learning experiences. The company prides itself on being market-driven and rapidly responsive to the changing needs of its customers. There are few rules and regulations for employees to follow, and supervision is loose because management believes that its employees are hardworking and trustworthy. Management is concerned with high productivity, but believes that this comes through treating its people right. The company is proud of its reputation as being a good place to work. Job activities are designed around work teams, and team members are encouraged to interact with people across functions and authority levels. Employees talk positively about the competition between teams. Individuals and teams have goals, and bonuses are based on achievement of these outcomes. Employees are given considerable autonomy in choosing the means by which the goals are attained.

Three levels of culture Artefacts, Creations
Technology, Art
Visible and Audible behaviour patterns

Visible and decipherable

Greater levels of awareness Values Taken for granted

Basic Assumptions
Relationships to the environment Nature of reality and truth Nature of human nature Nature of human activity Nature of human relationships
* Edgar Schein (1985) Organizational Culture and Leadership John Wiley and Sons.


Artefacts: Organizational Stories


descriptions of desired behavior

Demonstrate that

organizational objectives

are attainable
Most effective stories: Describe real people Assumed to be true Known throughout the organization

Artefacts: Rituals and Ceremonies


programmed routines e.g., conducting meetings


planned activities for an audience e.g., award ceremonies

Artefacts: Organizational Language


used to address people, describe clients, use phrases and metaphors as cultural


e.g.. General Electrics grocery store

also found in subcultures

Artefacts: Physical Structures/Space

Oakley, Inc.s protective and competitive corporate culture is apparent in its building design and workspace. The building looks like a vault to protect its cherished product designs (eyewear, footwear, apparel and watches).

Courtesy of Oakley, Inc.

Courtesy of Oakley, Inc.

Corporate values-IBM

to every clients success matters, for our company and for

Innovation that

the world.

and personal responsibility in all relationship.

Do Organizations Have Uniform Cultures?

Dominant Culture
Expresses the core values that are shared by a majority of the organizations members

Minicultures within an organization, typically defined by department designations and geographical separation

Do Organizations Have Uniform Cultures? (contd)

Core Values
The primary or dominant values that are accepted throughout the organization

Strong Culture
A culture in which the core values are intensely held and widely shared

Effects of Organizational Culture

Boundary-defining role Conveys


a sense of

identity Facilitates the generation of commitment Enhances social system stability Sense-making and control mechanism

values do not agree with organizations effectiveness Environment is dynamic Entrenched culture in rapid change Hinders ability to respond to changes

How Culture Begins

Founders hire and keep only employees who think and feel the same way they do. Founders indoctrinate and socialize these employees to their way of thinking and feeling. The founders own behavior acts as a role model that encourages employees to identify with them and thereby internalize their beliefs, values, and assumptions.

Keeping Culture Alive

Selection Concern with how well the candidates will fit into the organization Provides information to candidates about the organization Top Management Senior executives help establish behavioral norms that are adopted by the organization Socialization The process that helps new employees adapt to the organizations culture

How Organization Cultures Form

E X H I B I T 174