Organizational Culture

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Organizational Culture

Organizational Culture


Organizational culture refers to the elements—symbols, values, meanings, cognitions, myths, stories, and so on, as well as practices, structures, and rules—that characterize the dynamic of an organization or a subset (managerial group, occupational group, professional group, department, etc.) of the organization. In the latter case, we are then speaking of organizational subcultures. Although they have not been developed to the same extent, both these ways of using the concept of culture can be found in studies of organizational culture. In the first usage, researchers examine the cultural production generated in and from organizations.

Deal and Kennedy's model lead to types of Organizations that ought to be typical for success, e.g. tough-guy macho (e.g. Media and Computer Companies); work hard, play hard (e.g. Car Distributors, Retail Sales); bet your company (e.g. Aerospace, Oil, Capital goods); and process culture (e.g. Banking, Pharmaceuticals, Public utilities). In that respect, the Corporate Culture Survey (CCS, Glaser, 1983) consists of 20 items to measure values based on Deal and Kennedy's description of culture types (


The researchers can be divided into two camps, those who work on a particular cultural manifestation and those who try to report on all the cultural manifestations of an organization. In one camp, the researchers explore and analyze one of these manifestations, be it the myths, rituals, stories, knowledge, ideologies, or other, produced in and by the organization. These scholars seek to demonstrate the importance of this manifestation in understanding the internal dynamic of the organization and to reveal aspects that are more or less overlooked yet nevertheless central to the life of organizations (Deal, Kennedy, 2007).

For example, managers often use organizational values, myths, and stories to build a strong organizational culture oriented toward objectives relating to quality, production, and growth. They may be supported in this work by management consultants, or they may be criticized by researchers who stress the difficulty or the immorality of manipulating culture. Some researchers emphasize the power of rituals in integrating management and employees. Rituals can also be used to reduce conflicts, to highlight the actions of high-performing employees, to revitalize a moribund organization, and so on.

In the other camp, more ambitious research projects attempt to define the cultural manifestations that make up organizational culture. Some researchers, such as Terrence E. Deal and Allan A. Kennedy, emphasize values while acknowledging the importance of heroes, rites, and other elements in the construction of an organizational culture (Frost, 2008).

In the second way of using the concept of culture, researchers try to bring to light the different organizational cultures that result from organizational dynamics. They can compare them, explain their origin, and try to construct typologies. In anthropology, there is a long tradition of comparison, but in studies of organizational culture, this tradition seems much rarer. Few scholars try to compare organizational cultures, and even fewer construct typologies. Often the characteristics of a company's organizational culture are simply described, with no attempt to situate the culture in relation to others (Allaire, ...
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