Acculturation, Books on
and Cultural Studies, Books On Cultural Studies,
Edgar Schein was one of the most prominent theorists of organizational culture.
The concept of organizational culture is a way to understand human systems. Each aspect of
organizational culture can be seen as an important environmental condition affecting the
system and its subsystems. The examination of organizational culture is also a valuable
analytical tool in its own right. This way of looking at organizations borrows heavily
from anthropology and sociology and uses many of the same terms to define the building
blocks of culture.
There's a lot written about the concept of organizational culture -- particularly
in regard to learning how to change organizational culture. Organizational change efforts
are rumored to fail the vast majority of the time. Usually, this failure is credited to
lack of understanding about the strong role of culture and the role it plays in
organizations. That's one of the reasons that many strategic planners now place as much
emphasis on identifying strategic values as they do mission and vision.
Elements of organizational culture include:
Customs and rituals.
history of the group.
language used in and about the group.
the feelings evoked by the way members interact with each other, with outsiders, and with
their environment, including the physical space they occupy.
Organizational culture describes the attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values of
an organization. It has been defined as "the specific collection of values and norms
that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they
interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization.
"beliefs and ideas about what kinds of goals members of an organization should pursue
and ideas about the appropriate kinds or standards of behavior organizational members
should use to achieve these goals. From organizational values develop organizational
norms, guidelines or expectations that prescribe appropriate kinds of behavior by
employees in particular situations and control the behavior of organizational members
towards one another." - Charles W. L. Hill, and Gareth R. Jones, (2001) Strategic
Management. Houghton Mifflin.
Organizational culture is not the same as corporate culture. It is wider and deeper
concepts, something that an organization 'is' rather than what it 'has'.
Morgan proposes four essential strengths of the organizational culture approach:
It focuses attention on the human side of organizational life, and finds significance and
learning in even its most mundane aspects (for example, the setup in an empty meeting
It makes clear the importance of creating appropriate systems of shared meaning to help
people work together toward desired outcomes.
It requires membersespecially leadersto acknowledge the impact of their
behavior on the organizations culture. Morgan proposes that people should ask
themselves: "What impact am I having on the social construction of reality in my
organization?" "What can I do to have a different and more positive
It encourages the view that the perceived relationship between an organization and its
environment is also affected by the organizations basic assumptions. Morgan says:
We choose and operate in environmental domains according to how we construct conceptions
of who we are and what we are trying to do. . . . And we act in relation to those domains
through the definitions we impose on them. . . . The beliefs and ideas that organizations
hold about who they are, what they are trying to do, and what their environment is like
have a much greater tendency to realize themselves than is usually believed. (Morgan 149)