Organizational Culture

Culture has been one of the most used terms in the contemporary human
society. Indeed, every group of people is defined by particular values
and norms that tie them to each other and make them act in a particular
way. Of particular note is the fact that values, rituals, norms and
customs pertaining to cultures do not simply appear rather they evolve
with time and are usually influenced by religion, language, politics, as
well as other cultural elements. On the same note, individuals and
groups play an immense role in the path that a particular culture
follows over time. The importance of national cultures has permeated the
organizational front. Indeed, the cultures and subcultures pertaining to
any nation usually affect the manner in which the transactions of an
organization are carried out. Scholars have underlined the importance
that managers have placed on the knowledge of, flexibility and respect
for coping with the cultural differences on the national front (Mathis &
Jackson, 2008). Indeed, effective management has to incorporate
knowledge on how organizations can operate in a world that is primarily
influenced by national cultural variations. On the same note,
individuals have had to adapt to varied organizational environments
espoused by the varied cultures, values and norms. This is especially
considering the fact that the efficiency with which organizations
operate is highly dependent on the existence of shared values among the
employees (Mathis & Jackson, 2008). Values underline the affective and
conscious desires of people that drive or influence their behavior. They
ensure that the behavior of individuals is consistent across different
situations as they define what the organization holds as right or wrong.
Essentially, values are passed across different leaderships or
generations in organizations.
Organizational culture may be defined as the perception of employees
and the manner in which the perception creates certain patterns of
expectations, values and beliefs. Scholars have defined organizational
culture as the pattern of fundamental assumptions that are discovered,
developed or invented by some people as they learn to cope with issues
pertaining to internal integration and external adaptation and that has
functioned sufficiently well as to be seen as valid and, in essence,
worthy of being taught to new members as the appropriate technique for
thinking, feeling and perceiving in relation to the issues (Mathis &
Jackson, 2008). Of particular note is the fact that culture incorporates
some lessons, assumptions, perceptions and adaptations. Organizational
culture may be inferred through an examination of its perceptible
elements such as shared sayings, feelings, and behavior.
Since organizational culture revolves around common or similar
attitudes, values and expectations, it influences the individuals,
groups, as well as organizational processes. Desirable behaviors in an
organization would not only expected of individuals but also recognized
and rewarded.
Types of organizational cultures
Organizations, over time, will develop certain norms or expected
behavioral patterns within organizations. Scholars and researchers have
come up with varied types of organizational cultures.
Control or Hierarchy organizational culture
These organizations are similar to the stereotypical large bureaucratic
corporations and are defined by control, stability, as well as
integration and internal focus. These organizations value control,
standardization, as well as a well-defined structure for decision-making
and authority (Mathis & Jackson, 2008). Of particular note is that
effective leaders in organizations that have this culture are those that
have the capacity to organize, monitor and coordinate processes and
Market or compete culture
Compete or market oriented cultures emerged in the 1960s, at a time
when a large number of organizations believed that hierarchical
organizational cultures were the most effective in enhancing
profitability and stability. Compete organizational cultures are result
oriented and lay immense emphasis on achievement, competition, as well
as getting the job done. Of particular note is the fact that compete
organizational cultures are similar to control cultures with regard to
the value they place on control and stability. However, they place
immense value on differentiation and external orientation rather than
inward focus and integration (Mathis & Jackson, 2008). With the outward
focus, market organizations mainly focus on relationships especially
with customers, suppliers, legislators, unions, contractors, regulators
and consultants among other stakeholders. They hold the opinion that
they have the best chances for achieving success via effective external
relations. The key difference between compete organizational cultures
and hierarchy is the fact that while the later maximizes on control and
stability via rules, specialized job functions and standard procedures
of operation, market organizations are primarily concerned with
productivity and competitiveness via placing emphasis on positioning and
Collaborate or Clan organizational cultures
This culture bears some similarities with the hierarchy culture
especially with regard to the fact that it has an inward focus for
integration. However, it lays emphasis on discretion and flexibility
instead of control and stability as is the case for compete and control
cultures. This culture primarily emanated from Japanese firms that
primarily incorporated more team-centered approach (Mathis & Jackson,
2008). Firms that have this culture operate like families and place
immense value on cohesion, group commitment, creation of humane working
conditions, as well as loyalty. Of particular note is the fact that
these firms incorporate semi-autonomous teams that have the capacity to
hire and hire their own employees while encouraging workers to take part
in determining the manner in which things would be accomplished.
Adhocracy (Create) cultures
This organizational culture bears some similarities with the Collaborate
or clan culture with regard to the emphasis that it places in discretion
and flexibility. The key difference, however, rests in the fact that
they do not have a common inward focus rather they are concerned with
differentiation and have external focus (Schuler & Jackson, 2008). This
new culture developed in the advent of the information age and was aimed
at dealing with the volatile and fast-paced business environment. This
was because technological, social and economic variations had taken a
toll on the efficiency of older corporate tactics and attitudes, in
which case success was now seen in terms of creativity and innovation
where profitability would be achieved through the creation of new
opportunities for developing new services, new products, as well as new
relationships with little expectation as to the endurance of the same
(Schuler & Jackson, 2008). Adhocratic organizations place immense value
on adaptability and flexibility and thrive in situations that would
previously have been seen as unmanageable chaos. Of particular note is
the fact that adhocratic organizations have the capacity to quickly come
up with new services that allow them to capture immense market shares,
thereby making them leaders in their respective industries with their
less nimble competition being forced to play catch-up.
Scholars have also underlined the fact that there exists no correct or
universally applicable organizational culture for all organizations. All
cultures encourage some forms of behavior while inhibiting or hindering
others. On the same note, some are more suitable for rapid and
persistent change while others would be more appropriate for slow
incremental growth of a business entity or organization (Schuler &
Jackson, 2008). In essence, the appropriate organizational culture is
one that is closely fitting the strategy and direction of an
organization as the entity deals with its own challenges and issues in a
particular time.
Effects of organizational culture
Organizational cultures exert immense influence on different components
of organizations thanks to the shared values, attitudes and
expectations. However, it is imperative that one underlines the
differences between strong and weak organizational cultures as these
have a bearing on their effects (Jackson et al, 2009). Weak cultures are
defined as cultures in which organizational members do not share a
common set of values, in which case they have less likelihood of
carrying out tasks in a way that would be considered as consistent in
the organization. Strong organizational cultures, on the other hand, are
characterized by the employees having or sharing the fundamental values,
as well as reaching an agreement on the manner in which things and tasks
should be carried out in the organization (Bohlander & Snell, 2010).
Workers would like to maximize the utility that they derive from their
jobs both in the long-term and the short-term. Indeed, this increased
satisfaction enhances the productivity of workers. Underlining the
importance of organizational culture is the fact that it should help in
the provision and creation of this setting. Strong organizational
cultures focuses on the environment that it creates for the works as
this would help in enhancing the productivity and efficiency of the
company (Schuler & Jackson, 2008). Concentrating on developing and
sustaining organizational cultures sends the message to employees that
they are a fundamental component of the company, in which case they
would respond appropriately and assist the company or business entity in
the achievement of its goals.
Organizational cultures have an effect on the capacity of an
organization to attract high level talent. Needless to say, the
productivity or an organization is a function of the level of talent
that the employees have. Strong organizational cultures have the
capacity to attract high level talent as such individuals would want to
be in an organization that offers clear opportunities and channels for
advancement, as well as where they can show off or exhibit their talents
to the maximum (Schuler & Jackson, 2008). Of particular note is the fact
that highly talented individuals are extremely choosy and will strongly
consider joining companies in which the organizational culture seems
positive and effective, where workers are not only getting along with
each other but are also united by their goal of enhancing the quality of
service and the status of the company. On the same note, strong
organizational cultures enhance the capacity of organizations to retain
top level talent (Mathis & Jackson, 2008). This is especially
considering the satisfaction that workers derive from their jobs
especially with regard to feeling as being valuable team members.
In addition, strong organizational cultures are highly motivational as
they create momentum and energy. After building a strong organizational
culture, it would create energy and momentum, thereby helping in
motivating workers as it assists in making people feel valued and
treasured, thereby allowing them to freely express themselves (Jackson
et al, 2009). The energy and excitement emanating from this energy
results in positive influence that has an impact on every component of
the organization.
One of the most crucial effects of a strong organization culture is the
capacity to alter the views and perspectives of workers towards work.
Scholars have noted that a large number of people view work as
stressful, aggravating and boring. A solid culture would eliminate any
view of work as a place that an individual would have to go and make
workers look forward to going there. Of particular note is the fact that
in instances where workers are actually loving their work, they are
likely to put more effort in their work, which would, undoubtedly,
result in higher productivity and efficiency (Jackson et al, 2009).
Every person would want to work in an environment and undertake tasks
that he or she enjoys. As much as most people have the willingness to
work, it is always easier to work on tasks that one enjoys rather than
tasks that one hates.
Lastly, organizational cultures have a bearing on the efficiency and
level of productivity that firms exhibit. This is especially considering
the impact of organizational cultures on the unity or cohesiveness of
workers (Bohlander & Snell, 2010). It has been noted that organizational
cultures play an immense role in enhancing synchronicity and consistency
in the behavior and values espoused in a particular organization, as
well as the manner in which individuals deal with different situations.
This means that the workers or employees are united irrespective of
their status in the organization. Such unity would undoubtedly result in
enhanced cohesiveness, teamwork and job satisfaction, which would
improve the efficiency and productivity in the organization.
Creation and Sustenance of Strong Organizational Cultures
Organizational cultures hold organizations together and influence or
motivate individuals within those organizations to do the appropriate
things rather than the things that they consider as easy. Indeed,
scholars have underlined the fact that businesses that are deficient of
winning cultures are doomed to mediocrity. Winning cultures are composed
of two defining characteristics (Jackson et al, 2009). First, they have
a distinctive soul and personality that is based on shared heritage and
values. Second, they incorporate cultural behaviors and norms that
translate the distinctive soul and personality of the organization to
bottom-line results and customer-focused actions. This means that
business entities that have strong or winning cultures have better
capacity for executing their strategies, with their employees
maintaining healthy external focus on competitors and customers rather
than concentrating on internal turfs and politics. Their employees would
act and think like they own the businesses, taking personal
responsibility for the overall performance of the business rather than a
part of it. This underlines the substantial nature of the impact that
organizational culture has on the execution of its strategy and the
achievement of the business objectives and goals. Of particular note,
however, is the fact that only cultures that are deliberately or
intentionally cultivated would have the capacity to instill dramatic
changes in the capacity or organizations to execute its strategies. More
often than not, organizations are challenged to make changes so as to
keep up with modifications in technology, demographics and economic
environment (Bohlander & Snell, 2010). Intentional development of
cultures is transformative. It would engage the minds and hearts of
workers, thereby safeguarding their commitment to the vision, values and
directions of the business entity and inspiring them to maximize their
performance. Instilling a strong and winning culture in individuals may
be a herculean task as it necessitates a modification of the manner in
which individuals view the business entity and modifying habitual
behaviors (Jackson et al, 2009). Old habits may be broken by any
marketplace threat such as new regulations, competitors and
technologies, thereby creating opportunities for instilling elements
pertaining to a winning or high-performance culture. Various steps may
be taken in instilling this culture.
First, a culture audit should be carried out and new expectations set.
Comprehension of the unique features pertaining to the heritage of a
company, the strengths of its current culture and its deficiencies would
offer a solid foundation on which efforts to change the culture would be
built. This may be carried out via interviews and discussions with
employees or surveys on the workforce. In this regard, cultural icons
including value statements, vision and mission statements or even the
founders’ insights should be reviewed as they highlight the common
aspects of the organizational culture (Jackson et al, 2009). This review
should examine the weaknesses of a culture to highlight the shortfalls
that may be hindering the full growth of the business entity.
Second, the management should be aligned. The alignment of the
management team comes as one of the most crucial yet potentially
difficult steps in the development of a winning culture. This starts
with a clear evaluation of every member (Bohlander & Snell, 2010).
Questions that may be asked in the evaluation would include the
magnitude by which individuals embody the new culture and the likelihood
that they can break or get rid of old habits and take up new ones. In
most cases, business entities find that they may need to make some
personnel adjustments so as to develop the necessary momentum and
enthusiasm (Jackson et al, 2009). The change champions must undertake
the critical task of providing feedback so as to ensure that every
individual in the team models the appropriate behaviors and values for
the subordinates and peers.
The third step revolves around paying close attention or focusing on the
results and developing accountability in the business entity.
Organizational culture makes up a process or medium through which the
business’ strategic agenda would be achieved. In the creation of a
culture that is in line with the agenda, it is imperative that targets
are set for the business, with the change champion being explicit on the
manner in which the agendas touch on each and every individual in the
organization. Individuals in positions of responsibility such as team
members would then be held to account for the delivery of the targets,
with weekly, fortnightly and mnthly reviews being held and focusing on
the performance of individual managers against the set targets. Close
attention should, in this case, be paid to the problem areas. Leaders in
the business entity should concentrate on the achievement of milestones
and the manner in which every unit or team can make a contribution to
the achievement of the results in the communication of these
The fourth step involves the management of the drivers of organizational
culture. As much as culture comes as a soft concept, some hard
disciplines such as decision rights, organizational structure, talent
management systems, incentives and measures shape it. The occurrence of
any substantial culture change necessitates the alignment of these
elements with the new culture and direction (Bohlander & Snell, 2010).
For instance, the introduction of speed in the organizational culture
would necessitate the elimination of excessive management layers that
filter information and decision-making. It is imperative that the
accountabilities pertaining to the key jobs is clarified alongside the
development of performance metrics that recognize and reward desirable
Lastly, it is imperative that the values are communicated and outlined
to the stakeholders, progress recognized and performance rewarded. It
goes without saying that the process of changing or instilling a
particular culture is usually long. In this case, it is imperative that
leaders are attuned to the suggestions and perceptions of the business
stakeholders such as customers and employees so as to ensure that the
progress that the organization is making is in the right direction
(Bohlander & Snell, 2010). The maintenance of momentum among employees
necessitates a sustained and consistent communication pertaining to the
end goal or objectives, as well as the behaviors that are necessary for
getting there. Employees and other stakeholders would like to feel
excited about the future, as well as to be rewarded for any progress
that they make towards reaching or attaining the specified goals and
objectives. In essence, it is imperative that appropriate incentives are
created so as to improve the levels of customer and staff advocacy.
However, it is imperative that extreme caution is exercised in offering
rewards to employees for desired behavior and culture (Bohlander &
Snell, 2010). This is especially considering the fact that the reward,
compensation and recognition programs may be tools for building or
destroying the organizational culture. This may occur, for instance, in
cases where an organization embraces collaboration and teamwork and ends
up rewarding an individual who has achieved the required goals and
objectives at the expense of others.
The sustenance of organizational culture entails socialization where
organizations bring in new employees and inculcate them into their
culture. In this case, the assumptions, values and attitudes of the
organization would be transmitted from the older employees to the new
ones. Socialization tries to reduce the uncertainty of incoming
employees pertaining to their new roles and jobs. However, it is worth
noting that the socialization process is not only aimed at serving the
new comers rather the process also continues throughout the individual
careers. This is especially considering the dynamic nature of the
contemporary business world. Indeed, as organizations have their needs
modified, their employees must learn to adapt to the new needs, in which
case they must still undergo the socialization process. This, however,
does not negate the fact that socialization may be more crucial in some
instances than in others. The socialization process involves a number of
stages. First, there is the anticipatory socialization where an
individual strives to acquire all information pertaining to the
organization prior to joining it. The second stage involves
accommodation where the individual becomes a member of the organization
and get an opportunity to see it for what it is (Bohlander & Snell,
2010). The third stage involves role management where an individual
would be required to adjust to the expectations and requirements
pertaining to the immediate workgroup. However, this stage takes on a
broader set of problems and issues than the accommodation stage. Of
particular note is the fact that conflicts are bound to arise at this
stage between the home and work lives of the individual, as well as
between the workgroups of the individual and other workgroups in the
business entity. Managing these roles would be the epitome of the
socialization process.
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Schuler, R. S., & Jackson, S. E. (2008). Strategic human resource
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Jackson, S. E., Schuler, R. S., Werner, S., & Jackson, S. E.
(2009). Managing human resources. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage
Mathis, R. L., & Jackson, J. H. (2008). Human resource management.
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