Organisational Culture Check List
download a Word version, click here.}
The following check list covers some of the areas which an anthropologist might
consider when entering an organisation. As a check list it is necessarily brief at best
and enigmatic or downright incomprehensible at worst. I have included some notes which
might help to make a little more sense of one of the sections, on dress
code. As time goes by I may add more notes...
Who is a member of organisation
Family members of staff?
Permanent staff only?
Perceived as continuous?
Sense of stability?
Communications (see also Words)
How are strangers greeted
Use of language
Most common modes?
Written or verbal?
E-mail or memo?
Telephone or face to face?
Acceptable ways of offering opinion
Is non-normative behaviour admired or deprecated?
Are fools and tricksters
Formally or informally?
Formal or informal?
How rigidly enforced
Are there dress down days? How are they
How do people dress for off-site meetings?
What differentiatorshow many classes? E.g.:
Uniforms for security
Casual for operations
Two piece suits for middle managers
Three piece suits for senior managers
Fixtures & fittings
Office furnitureexpensive or cheap?
Differences due to status or function?
Do managers have chairs with arms and high backs?
Are some areas carpeted? Why?
Level of maintenance and decorative order
Number and structure of canteens
Use of food in meetings
Out of office activities
Attitudes to alcoholic drinks
Wine for managers, beer for workers?
Wine for managers, nothing for workers?
No alcohol on premises?
Groups and networks
Formal or informal
Rumour & gossip rate
Sanctioned or illegitimate
Strength of grapevine
Attitudes to history
Attitudes to past folk heroes & villains
Lots of stories? Told in public or told in
Home and work
Attitudes towards child care
Role of spouse
What is the policy towards domestic crises?
How are domestic crises actually dealt with?
More flexible than policy?
How are new members (employees) assimilated
Shape of table
Who sits where
Salary levels known? Much talk about salary?
Business figures widely known?
Degree of thrift
All letters first class?
Rewards and recognition
Basis of reward
Indicators of statusgrade or salary?
Private bonus system
Salesman of month, etc.
Space, use of
Allocation of office space
Decor an indicator of social structure?
Location an indicator of social structure?
e.g. top management at top of building?
Size an indicator of social structure?
Indicators in open plan:
Higher partitions for managers?
Some offices? For whom?
Labellinghow easy is it for stranger to find a
Analogue of ease of entry to organisation?
Mapping of function or process to space?
Open plan vs. individual offices
Public vs. private space:
Use of toilets
State of buildingclean, in need of decoration,
Attitudes to time
Busy, busy or relaxed?
Attitude to past and future
Emphasis on planning?
Punctualityvirtue or vice?
Indicator of boundary strength
Subgroups using jargon?
Modes of address
Same to all staff?
First name to all?
Mr upward, first name downward?
Terms of address; terms of reference
Treatment of women different from men?
Different to clients?
© Richard Seel