organizational culture


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organizational culture

the particular configuration of norms, values, beliefs and ways of behaving that characterise the manner in which groups and individuals collaborate within organisations.

Controlling organizational culture became a prominent concern within British and American management schools in the 1980s as a result of three main factors:

  1. the challenge of Japanese competition;
  2. concern over the economic recovery of industry;
  3. the failure of previous methods of organizational design to overcome corporations inefficiencies, e.g. matrix structures. See also ORGANIZATION.

This concern with organizational culture was principally a prescriptive one, exemplified in the works of the American authors Deal and Kennedy (1982) and in the UK by Handy's four-part cultural schema (1984). Deal and Kennedy's (1982) analysis is prescriptive in intent and sets out to identify the particular rites and rituals of corporate life that constitute corporate cultures and they argue that business success relies on what they refer to as ‘strong culture’. Successful corporations have ‘values and beliefs to pass along – not just products‘ (ibid.). The authors describe organizational culture as possessing five elements: (i) business environment, (ii) values, (iii) heroes, (iv) rituals and (v) cultural network (i.e. informal communications). This model does have the merit of specifying what the dimensions of organizational culture are believed to be. Its main limitation is its assumption that organizational cultures need to be of a particular kind if the organization is to be successful. This conclusion results from a preparedness to over-generalize from research on a sample of powerful corporations. Such conclusions may be less applicable for organizations operating in different markets, with different technologies and employing lower numbers of highly qualified staff (see CONTINGENCY THEORY).

Handy (1985) offers a more complex model that is able to distinguish between different cultural forms and organizational types. This model is based on an earlier one designed to distinguish between organizational ideologies. Handy's view of organizational culture is, in general terms, similar to that of Deal and Kennedy (1982) in that organizational culture is ‘…founded and built over the years by the dominant groups in an organization’ (ibid.). He, however, differs from them in arguing that there are four main types of culture, not just ‘strong’and ‘weak’ cultures. The Handy schema lists power, role, task and person cultures as viable alternatives, each of which can be an effective culture within the appropriate context (1985).

One has to look elsewhere for sociologically informed and critical analyses. Casey's (1995) study of the US company she calls ‘Hephaestus’ (1995) and Watson's study of ZTC Ryland in the UK (1994) are such examples as is Parker's (2000) study of three organizations drawn from the public, service and manufacturing sectors of the UK economy. Within the managerialist literature generally it is difficult, however, to escape the sense that concern with culture shares some affinity with Orwellian brainwashing, a view argued strongly by Willmott (1993). Managerial discourse is not the only form. Sociologists have been actively interested in the phenomena for far longer whether as ‘ideology’ (MARX) or ‘discourse’ (FOUCAULT). There is, for example, a strong research tradition in the study of organizational cultures within the work of SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISTS, for example Strauss et al's (1963) study of a hospital as a negotiated order.

References in periodicals archive ?
Despite the vague importance of organizational culture in terms of knowledge management (KM) for small companies, little research has been done to investigate its specific characteristics (Suppiah & Sandhu, 2017).
Among these factors is organizational culture (Ouchi, 1981; Pascale and Athos, 1981; Deal and Kennedy, 1982; Peters and Waterman, 1982; Denison, 1990; Kotter and Heskett, 1992; Boxx et al.
Schein defines organizational culture as "a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaption and internal integration, which has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.
Among the many important linkages in IJVs is the relationship between organizational culture, organizational trust and partner commitment to the IJV (Cullen et al.
Organizational culture supports the massive influences that the economic interaction created between states, organizations (corporations), people with a mobility service and various cultural traits.
Examining the influence of organizational culture on organizational innovation, and more specifically, exploring the organizational values that may have positive relationships with organizational innovation is of critical importance (Lewis & Boyer, 2007; Gregory et al.
Doing what's morally correct in all situations relating to your customers and employees is one of the most important elements in any organizational culture.
Findings: It is shown that rather organizational culture than organizational justice factors influence significantly on organizational identification with 62% explanatory power.
It is unlikely the importance of organizational culture will diminish anytime soon.
Innovative organizational culture was positively influenced by self-leadership and organizational knowledge sharing.
Organizational culture of companies is the impact of power politics or the result of consolidation and acceptance of cultural differences in a common culture.
The effect of organizational culture, teamwork and organizational development on organizational commitment: The mediating role of human capital, Tehnicki Vjesnik 20(6): 1019-1025.

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