Type: Definition Essays
Sample donated: Kate Conner
Last updated: July 24, 2019
Organisational culture is defined in many different ways in theliterature. Perhaps the most commonly known definition is the way how thingsare done in an organization (Martins and Terblanche, 2003).It refers to the beliefs and attitudeheld by people about their organisations and is based on tried and attemptedassumptions that have been around in an organization and are successfullyoperating now (Martins and Terblanche, 2003).Thebehaviours of the members are something that shape up the organizational culture and isbased on assumptions of human behviourbased on their values, rules and norms. (Martinsand Terblanche, 2003). They are usually formed over a period of time andplay an important role in the organizational functioning (Martins and Terblanche, 2003).
This essay willrevolve around the meaning, concept, organizational theories, culture types,issues, cultural change, key concepts, management of culture, strategies,sources, practices, conflicts and compare and contrast from available academicliterature. Organisationalculture forms a very important part of the general functioning of anorganization and a well defined culture makes sure that everyone is on the sametrack. The culture affects various functions and processes in an organization (Martinsand Terblanche, 2003).
Organisation and Organization theories are veryclosely linked to each other with the only difference being the incorporationof management studies in the theory (Grey 2017). The main focus of organizationtheory is to help organizations get the job done in a better way keeping theaspects of management in mind (Grey 2017). Organizations are extremelyinteresting places where one can study every facet of human life and itinvolves studying about their families, politics, work, personal choices andtheir life experiences (Grey 2017). An organizational culture includesartefacts, jokes, metaphors, stories,behavior patterns, beliefs, attitudes, values, codes of conduct and otherfactors and A lot of it is based on the history of the organization and thepractices they adopt (Brown,1998). Socialising within an organization is an important part of organisationssince it helps the members get to know each other and turning the overallscenario into a more stable place (Brown,1998). According to Martins (1987, 1997 cited in Martins and Terblanche, 2003) ,the culture of anorganization is also based upon factors like the mission and vision of theorganization, the impact of external environment and its level of involvementwith the organization, the support and structural mechanisms, company image,easy in management processes, goal formulations, level of communication andcontrol, how to organization perceives employee activities and needs,interpersonal relationships and the style of leadership .
According to Martins(1987, 1997 cited in Martins and Terblanche, 2003)all these elements influence the level of creativity and innovation in anorganization since directly or indirectly they affect the value that theemployee thinks about himself and the company and how he can contribute to itsgrowth. According to Tesluk 1997, Managers need to be open and supportingtowards their employees with a flexible approach and clearly defined roles andjob responsibilities (Martins and Martins, 2002) .Further he says that, goodtechnological facilities and fewer barriers in structure often help an employeeto bring out the creative mindset in him. (Martins and Martins, 2002).
The mostimportant sources are probably the type of business the organization conductsand nature of its business environment, the management style of the dominantleader and the national culture in which the organization is situated(Hofstede, 2011). The leader is a very important person since his inspiringideas will permeate the organization’s culture (Hofstede, 2011). If he’smundane, then the guiding beliefs will be uninspired (Hofstede, 2011). GeertHofstede divided cultures into five dimensions mainly power distance,individualism/collectism, masculinity/feminity, uncertainty avoidance andConfucian dynamism (Hofstede, 2011). Power distance is the acceptance rate byless powerful members of an organization, Individualism/collectivism is thelevel to which individual independence or social cohesion dominate,masculinity/feminity is the degree to which social gender roles are clearlydistinguished, Uncertainty avoidance is defined as the extent to which memberof the culture feel scared of unknown circumstances and Confucian dynamism isthe degree to which long termism or short termism is the dominant orientationof life (Hofstede, 2011) Stakeholdersare a set of another very important people due to their direct or indirectpowers to influence organizational culture (Brown,1998).
. They even help inimproving the quality of products and services by giving responses(Brown,1998).The government is another very big party to affect organizationalculture due to their policy decisions, economy management and legal framework(Brown,1998). The organizations need to deal strategically with business issueslike risk levels, feedback times and management of resources to try andmaintain a stable environment for their business’s functioning (Brown,1998).
Culturecan be of various types and isclassified into different types by different personalities. The Harrison 1972 approach classifies cultureinto power, role, task and person culture types (Dudovskiy, 2014) .Harrison1972 further says that power culture has a single source of power whose raysinfluence throughout the organization, role culture is about bureaucracy withthe main principles being logic and rationality, task culture divides powerbased on expertise rather positions and person culture is based upon the ideaof a group of people to collectively organize rather than individually (Dudovskiy,2014). For example, a British billionaire sir Alan Sugar’s Amistad is an idealexample of power culture where Sugar takes all the strategic decisions in anindividualistic way (Dudovskiy, 2014).
Deal and Kennedy 1982 divided cultureinto four generic terms mainly being the tough guy macho culture, the workhard/play hard culture, the bet your company culture and the process culture(Bremer, 2017).As per Deal and Kennedy (1982), In the tough guy culture arehigh risk taking individuals who receiverapid feedbacks on their decisions, thework hard/ play hard culture emphasizes on fun and action with low level ofrisks, the bet your company culture consists of high risk and long decision times while the process culture is low riskand slow feedback type (Bremer, 2017). The Quinn and McGrath’s 1985 typologyidentified and divided into four generic cultures; rational (market),ideological (adhocracy),consensual (clan) and hierarchical culture (Machado and Carvalho, 2008). Quinn and Mcgrath’s1985 study further says that the marketculture is about pursuing objectives using productivity and efficiency as theprimary criteria of performance, the adhocracy culture favors external support, growth and resourceacquisition, the clan focuses on group maintenance and the hierarchical cultureexists to execute all regulations in a systematic and controlled way (Machado and Carvalho, 2008).EdgarSchein, is a very influential writer who describes culture in layers mainlybeing basic underlying assumptions, espoused values and artefacts in order frombottom to top (Hattangadi, 2017). Schein, further says that the basicunderlying assumptions are the foundations on which culture is based, espousedvalues are the companies core values and public statements and Artefacts arethe visible signs of an organization’s culture. (Hattangadi,2017).
For example, the Palo Alto office of IDEO has an plane wing jutting outof one wall which is a very shocking artifact but it symbolizes IDEO’s playfuland creative culture (Burkus, 2014)Organisationalculture has a number of important functions and roles to play in anorganization mainly being conflictreduction, proper behavior, coordination and control, uncertainty reduction,motivation and creating a competitive advantage (Brown 1998). Any organization,whether medium or large has a number of subcultures and subgroups of some kindwhose beliefs, values and assumptions may compete with the dominant culture.(Brown 1998). Trice and Beyer (1993)addressed four social conditions which promoted the growth of subcultures.These included differential interaction which was about the extent to whichpeople interacted with each other, Shared experiences were experiences people developed over a period oftime, people with similar personal characteristics and Cohesion (Workman, 2001). Organisationsand people often learn thru trial and errors and different routines andexperiences (Schein, 1984). Culture and learning share a reciprocalinterdependence with each other and thru complex interactive learning processes.
This means all the members must have had collective learning opportunities(Schein, 1984)Thecultural framework is an important analytical tool which helps in linkingstrategies with organizational effectiveness, keeping this mind Tom Peters andRobert Waterman, two consultants at McKinsey and Company developed a 7-S ModelConsisting of Hard elements which were easier to define and included Strategy,structure and systems as its components and Soft elements like shared values,skills, style and staff (Mindtools.com, n.d.). Tom Peters and Robert Waterman(1982) defined certain lessons which were termed as elements of a goodorganizational culture.
These included; A bias for action which was about goodagility to do the job, Being close to the customer and serving them as anindividual, Autonomy and Entrepreneurship which meant that each part of thebusiness should act as an entrepreneurial unit rather a part of a machine,Productivity through people and focus on quality, Hands-on, Value-drivenframework for everyday practices, Stick to the knitting which was aboutfocusing on your core business activities, Simple form-lean staff, meant thatkeeping simple process and Holding Simultaneous loose-tight properties (Petersand Waterman,1982). According to Earle(2003) these days having talented individuals who can contribute to thecompany’s growth and culture is a very important aspect. Companies change theirrecruitment, development and retention strategies for this, give a suitablephysical environment to individuals, help them manage their personal and worklife issues and make them feel like family (Earle, 2003). Job satisfaction,good office design with a suitable physical environment, promoting a positiveenvironment and suitable perks help in employee development and maintainance ofa good culture (Earle, 2003). For companies, doing suitable branding andmaintaining a strong corporate image is another important factor. Other factorslike supportive teamwork, knowledge sharing and facilitating propercommunication also help (Earle, 2003). The better the quality of life foremployees, the more positive will be the organizational culture (Earle, 2003).As Organizations develop and experience different situations, the culture of theorganization changes and it is extremely important to understand this changesince it may help in improvement of performance and effectiveness (Brown, 1998).
Changes may be small scale; Ie: incremental or large scale; ie radical (Brown,1998).However,when one or more cultures are integrated into one environment then disruptionscan take place. Usually, it may be due to mergers and acquisitions,departmental differences, leadership or strategical changes or even national orgeographical differences (Riley, 2014). Change could even be resisted due tofears of change, loyalty towards exisiting relationships , break up of groups,loss of power, skill or income or maybe even the failure to accept the need fora change (Riley, 2014). A classical example of a failed culture change was the”Daimler-Chrysler” merger which was a fail due to a big cultural mismatch sinceDaimler had an upright and hierarchal approach while Chrysler was a risk takingand loose organization (Riley, 2014). The planning towards culture change can be proactive or reactive innature.
Proactive businesses plan in advance and are usually more flexible andthey focus on a productive and efficient work environment while the Reactivebusinesses don’t change until situations force them to act towards it and arealways at risk (Mack, n.d.).
Change management is a complicated thing butcertain things like proper planning, communication, integration, motivation,confidence, workload management and evaluation of existing culture can ease theprocess (Ball, n.d.). Culture shapes up the conduct at work, behavior, style,language, problem solving tactics, negotiation skills, relationship creation,values and building trust and understanding (Brown, 1998). Human resorce management and organizationalculture have a very close relationship. HR profesionals manage key elementslike symbols, rituals, rites, behavioural norms, beliefs, values and evenassumptions (Brown, 1998).
Things like office parties, décor, space, equipment,staff meetings, award ceremonies affect culture too (Brown, 1998). The HRdepartment can use proper recruitment and selection procedures, guidedinduction and socialization training, a fair performance appraisal system andrewarding worthy employees in an organization for proper culture management(Brown 1998). However, there are times when the organization wants toincorporate culture change. According to Hyatt (2012), this can be done throughfirstly becoming aware about the existing culture then assessing your cultureand deciding the aspects you want to keep, deciding what to let go off anddeciding what is missing.
Once this is done, a new culture should be envisionedand then shared and discussed with everyone. Employees should be motivated andcommunication should be clear and then the vision of culture change can beturned into a reality (Hyatt, 2012). Sometimes, culture could even be negativein nature and have darker side to it.
It could be in the form of extremelystrict rules, unethical practices, setting the bar too high, not beingconsiderate towards employees, not giving consideration to employee viewpoints,stereotyping, prejudices, leader being a bully, broken promises, uselessgossip, lack of praise, lack of team spirit, low pays or constant humiliation(Zambas, 2017). The world of management too is highly sensitized to differentfads and fashions, they change as often as clothing styles and may come backafter a couple of years (Rabstejnek, n.d.
). Fads are crazes popularized usuallyby desperate managers. Fads have a shelflife and despite the fact that how goodit is, its unlikely that it will work for all persons, in every situation atall times (Rabstejnek, n.d.). Some fads can be integrated into the businesswhile some just fade away with time. Some fads and fashions that have beenthere since quite a long time are the ISO 9000 and the MBTI (Rabstejnek, n.d.
).Paradigms are another trend in culture which talk about the values or thoughtsheld in a society in the most standard and accepted way at any given time(O’donnell and Boyle, 2008). They are formed by the community’s culturualbackground and history. For example, Zalami (2005) identified certain paradigmsin the public sector and realized that they were focused on authorities andcontrols, rules, inefficient use of resources and not focused on results(O’donnell and Boyle, 2008). He suggested a paradigm which was more focused andresponsive towards citizen needs.
His Paradigm suggested that the governmentshould provide solution to common problems and public servants should befocused on meeting the needs to the citizens (O’donnell and Boyle, 2008). Froma personal experience, I would like to share about the organization I workedfor which was an IT start up company having a lot of young and innovativeminds. The managers listened to and understood everyone’s ideologies andthoughts. They gave consideration to personal issues and treated everyoneequally. There were regular meetings with the management where we would giveour opinions on how to improve and they were genuinely taken intoconsideration. The salary increments were done every six months to furthermotivate employees and there were a lot of social gatherings. It was like a bigfamily.
It was similar to Deal and Kennedy’s (1982) work hard/play hard culturetype where everyone was high on energy, upbeat, existed of high volumesalespeople and was totally a team effort kind of an environment where everyonewas driven to excel (Bremer, 2017).Understandingand Managing Organisational culture is important since it helps understand theinsights, improve efficiencies, understanding the arrangements and what worksand what does not. It helps understand the psychological commitments of theemployees and bring everyone together. In order for a company to succeed, the workculture should be able to unite everyone together and members should have ahealthy relationship with each other. A healthy culture will promote creativityand innovation and spark organizational growth (Grey, 2017).