“How does organizational Culture impact on working practices and processes?”
Word count: 2076
Q. How does organization culture impact on working practices and processes?
“The basic philosophy, spirit and drive of an organization have far more to do with its relative achievements than do technological or economic resources, organizational structure, innovation, and timing. All these things weigh heavily in success. But they are, I think, transcended by how strongly the people in the organization believe in its basic precepts and how faithfully they carry them out.” -Tom Watson Jr., A Business and Its Beliefs, 1963
When Tom Watson Jr., the second CEO of IBM, gave a lecture at Columbia University about the prospects of strong organizational culture, he addressed his thoughts on what 50 years of corporate life taught his company. He zeroed in on IBM’s 3 basic beliefs–respect for the individual, excellence in all tasks, providing better customer services–that are still the Company’s guiding principles. His father, the founder of IBM, was one of the first business leaders to recognize and create a culture for his company. This illustrates how organization culture has a lasting impact that determines the survival of an organization over time.
Organization culture being a social construct, the product of mental programming, has been learned and historically determined (Hofstede, 1991; Schein, 1985). According to Kilmann, Saxton and Serpa (1985) “culture is the invisible force behind the tangibles and observables in any organization, a social energy that moves people to act”. There are numerous definitions of culture and organizational culture. Corporate culture can be seen as something an organization has or something organization is (Smircich, 1983) which has different implications for the usefulness of the notion. Combining the viewpoints of different authors, an organization’s culture can be considered an umbrella term that emphasizes different aspects that are historically determined by group character and show a relationship between culture and behavior.
Studying the culture of organizations is not easy as it is observed (Schein, 2004). According to Morgan (2006), this includes “patterns of interactions between individuals, the language that is used, the images and themes explored in conversation, and the various rituals of daily routine.” Since organization culture is socially constructed, it changes constantly (Smircich, 1983 et al). The 3 perspectives (integration, differentiation and fragmentation) approach of culture study by Martin (2002) gives a more complex view of culture impact on workers.
This essay analyses the consequences that organizational culture has on processes and practices in an organization. The argument is threefold. First, the different levels of culture’s impact on an organization using 2 illustrations are elucidated. Second, the preservation of organizational culture is emphasized by looking at organizational development, performance approach, socialisation and knowledge sharing process. Third, the role of organizational culture in organizational change and evolution is explained.
Edgar Schein’s model (1985) of observable artifacts (visible and audible behavior patterns ranging from physical layout and dress code to statements of philosophy and annual reports), espoused values and taken-for-granted basic underlying assumptions are 3 fundamental levels at which culture manifests itself. Cultural analysis keeping this model in mind will provide an insight into the future of organizations.
For instance, consider the contrast between the climate of the following two companies - a rapidly growing high tech manufacturing “Action Company” with open office landscape architecture and a high degree of informality, values like hard work, innovation and rapid solutions, and critical and coordinated assumptions like “members are...
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