Organisation Culture - Links & Articles
For a New Paradigm
approach to understanding and working with culture, Richard Seel's Culture
and Complexity and
Describing Culture are
a good starting place.
Culture change is a difficult and subtle thing to achieve and we have a number
of innovative approaches which can help organisations who want to change.
There is a huge amount of material about organisational
culture available on the internet. We've tried to offer a guide to some of it
below, focusing on breadth of issues and trying to offer a small sample of what
is available under different topic headings.
Introduction to Culture
What is This Thing Called Organisational Culture? can be found on
the Business Open Learning Archive site. It's a very simple introduction to
conventional thinking about culture with a few notes on some of the different
models of culture which have been proposed. It was designed for viewing at
800x600 and is a bit messy at higher resolution.
Culture by Carter McNamara is another
simple introduction introduction, with a selection of further
links.There are also some links to discussion groups
which may include culture as a topic.
Organizational Culture and
Leadership has been written by Ted Nellen
and is based on Edgar Schein's book
of the same name. Schein is one of the most influential
writers on culture. He sets great store on the influence of the founder of an organisation
on its culture and his ideas are explored in a number of books
Culture: A Web Walk was written by Valda Svede and Mariella Petriglia as a
Masters assignment. Focused around education it offers a basic approach to some
issues of culture.
Changing culture is a controversial area. Many
consultants and academics will offer neat prescriptive packages based on simple
models of culture. My own belief is that these are rarely effective, though they
are easy to sell to clients. Some perspectives can be found on the internet.
The Culture Change
Planner by Judd Norman offers a four-phase approach to culture change:
"Anyone working to bring about lasting
culture change will attest to the enormity of the task. Without a framework,
culture change appears hopelessly complex. The four-phase Normative Systems
Culture Change Process was developed in order to organize such efforts into
"Changing culture in many ways parallels farming. The
first phase, Analysis and Objective Setting, is dedicated to analyzing and
preparing the soil. Phase II, Systems Introduction, plants the seed of change.
The third phase, Systems Integration, is the cultural equivalent of adding
fertilizer and water so that the plant takes root and flourishes. And the fourth
phase, Evaluation, Renewal and Extension, is similar to harvesting the crop and
gathering new seed for the next planting."
Ways to Develop your Corporate Culture by Naomi Moneypenny offers 'Start
Small, Act Big', 'Build Trust', 'Engender Collaboration', 'Inspire Creativity'
and 'Inspire Action' as five ways to develop culture.
Downsizing And Organizational
Culture by Thomas
Hickok argues that, ultimately, the most prominent effects of downsizing will be
in relation to culture change, not in relation to saved costs or short-term
Corporate Culture: MRG Adopts
looks at the culture of the Metromedia Restaurant Group
and how its founder, Michael Kaufman, took ideas from a number of larger
organisations and moulded MRG and came up with nine core values.
Cultural Change in the Pittsburgh Symphony
Organization: A Roundtable Discussion
gives an account of the experience of going through a process of cultural change
in the orchestra, who used the Japanese Hoshin approach to help with much needed
What are the strengths and weaknesses within the
Fairborn Fire Department that have the greatest impact on its present
What are the elements of the organizational culture
within the Fairborn Fire Department?
How can the organizational culture be defined?
'Doing' Organizational Culture in the Saturn Corporation
by Terry Mills, Craig Boylstein and Sandra
Lorean is an extensive account of the organisation's culture,
focusing on how story telling is crucial to the creation and maintenance of
Anyone who has read my "Describing Culture" will know
that I am very sceptical about the notion of measuring culture. However, many
people do it and presumably find it helpful so I include the following links:
Measuring organizational cultures: a qualitative and quantitative study across
twenty cases by Geert Hofstede et al 1990, looks at a 20
culutres in orgabnisations across Denmark and the Netherlands. They found that
differences could be rated by variances on six independent dimensions:
process-oriented vs. results-oriented; employee-oriented vs. job-oriented;
parochial vs. professional; open system vs. closed system; loose vs. tight
control; normative vs. pragmatic.
Organisational Culture Check List takes an anthropological
perspective and may be helpful if you are wondering where to look for clues to make sense
of an organisation's culture.
Culture & Teams
Teams are an essential part of modern organisational
life. Their impact on organisational culture has been much debated.
A Cultural Shift Helps SoC Teams Work Together by Luke Collins looks at the
impact of culture on changing working practices in the electronics industry.
Aligning Organizational Culture Through Team Learning by Alan Slobodnik &
Kristina Wile is a slide presentation, with lots of systems diagram, is
basically an advert for an approach to facilitating self-managed teams.
Metaphors and Meaning: An Intercultural Analysis of the Concept of Teamwork
by Cristina Gibson & Mary Zellmer-Bruhn
looks at different understandings of the notion of teamwork across different
national and organisational cultures.
Culture & Performance
An Exploration of Industry, Culture and Revenue Growth by
Edward Christensen and George Gordon also looks at the relationship between
culture and performance. Their approach is heavily influenced by Geert Hofstede
Corporate Culture: The Key to Safety Performance by
Judith Erickson looks at the role organisational culture can play in safety
issues. My own experience of consulting in hazardous industries suggests that a
'safety culture' can lead to a general sense of risk-aversion which can hinder
innovation and strategic thinking.
The Strength of Corporate Culture and the Reliability of Firm Performance by
Jesper B.Sorensen explores the notion, put forth by the McKinsey theorists (Deal
and Kennedy; Peters and Waterman) that 'strength' of culture is important in
Culture and Mergers & Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions are usually made for reasons of
'synergy'. In practice they stand or fall on two key issues: culture and power.
If half the resources which were devoted to redesigning organisational
structures were put into an appreciative exploration of the strengths of the two
cultures there would be a lot more success in these ventures.
A Brand-New Culture for the Merged Firm by Kenneth Smith looks at the
possibility of 'discarding' the cultures of the constituent parts of the merged
organisation and creating a new culture together. He looks at three components
of organisational culture: values, work rituals and leadership. He argues that
the best approach is "to define which culture and leadership capabilities
are required to be successful in the restructuring industry and then to plan and
manage the selection and development of leaders to arrive ultimately at the
Hidden Sore Points
Thwart a Culture Match
by Paula Love and Steve Gibson looks at some of the cultural issues which can
arise when two organisations come together.
Culture and Equality Issues
Culture and Oppression in Organizations by Sharon Kaiser takes a searching
look at the politics of organisational culture, exploring how culture can
oppress and suppress minority workers.
Towards an Inclusive Organizational Culture by Anne Buchanan assumes that
organisational culture can be made more inclusive by examining specific policies
and practices. This may be effective but will also experience painful failure if
there are more deep-seated patterns of meaning and value.
Cultural Theory and Organizations: Analytical Method and Cases
by Yochanan Altman and Yehuda Baruch
uses an anthropological approach (Mary Douglas' Grid and Group theory as
Natural Symbols) to try to understand some of the issues in organisational
Organizational Culture by Anat Rafaeli and Monica Worline explores the
importance of symbols in organisational life. "We refer to symbols as visible,
physical manifestations of organizations and indicators of organizational life."
They argue that symbols both reflect organisational culture and trigger
internalised values and norms. They also provide a frame for conversations about
experience as well as integrators of organisational systems of meaning.
The Use of Organizational Culture and Structure to Guide Strategic Behavior: An
Information Processing Perspective by John O'Neill, Laura Beauvais & Richard
Scholl, "presents a descriptive model explaining the roles and relationships of
organizational culture and organizational structure in guiding employee behavior
toward strategic objectives. Using an information-processing view, we propose
that organizational culture and structure direct the behavior of employees
through the reduction of uncertainty and equivocality. Furthermore, we propose
that differing levels of both cultural and structural influences are implemented
in different organizational types based on the level of skill, originality, and
training required of the tasks being performed by members of the organization,
and based on the geographical dispersion of the employees themselves. We
present the concept of the “cosmopolis,” which is an organization rich in both
cultural and structural elements. Implications for both research and managerial
practice are discussed."
Culture & Marketing
Empirical Investigation Into the Impact of Organizational Culture and Marketing
Strategy on Firm Performance by Thomas baker & Jon Hawes, "presents a
conceptual discussion of the fit between organizational culture and marketing
strategy and a study undertaken to determine the type of culture and strategy
which should befit together in order to achieve optimal organizational
Integration of Internal Marketing Into the Organizational Culture of Service
Firms by Tracy Suter notes that, "The purpose of this paper is to show how
internal marketing can impact the culture of an organization. The role of
internal marketing is to develop an organizational culture based on quality
customer service at every level of the organization."
Culture & the Individual
Culture is created by the interactions between individuals. Individuals are
affected by the culture. The relationship between the two needs careful study.
Personality Traits and Workplace Culture by Mark Mallinger and Ileana
Rizescu offers some thoughts on the relationship between the individual and
organisational culture. The describe the Integrated Cultural Framework, which
contains six dimensions.
International Culture Issues
Differing national cultures can have a big effect on international mergers
or joint ventures.
Culture & History
Organizational Culture and Business History by Michael Rowlinson & Stephen
Proctor offers a critique of different approaches to culture and looks at the
role of of view of history in writings on the subject.
Going further afield:
Unrelated to organisational life is Richard Seel's
Birth Rite, an article which suggests some links between common ritual
practices and a form of depression.
One culture-related topic which is quite well represented on the web is
memetics - the study of 'memes', a term coined by Richard Dawkins to denote
the 'gene of culture', that is the hypothetical building blocks of culture which
may behave analogously to genes in biology.
Because we see the notion of paradigm as
important to the understanding of culture, we've included a little about the
A select bibliography on organisational culture
Cray, David & Mallory, Geoffrey R. 1998, Making Sense of Managing Culture.
London: International Thompson Business Press.
Trice, Harrison & Beyer, Janice M. 1993, The Cultures of Work Organizations.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.