What is Organizational Culture? Explain both how the culture of an organization might evolve and why an understanding of the organizational culture is important

Topics: Management, Culture, Organization Pages: 5 (1605 words) Published: October 13, 2006
When we hear the word 'culture', what appear on our minds are traditions, which have lived and been practiced through the generations of a certain race, tribe or people, for examples, top-spinning and traditional wedding for the Malays. In the following paragraphs, I will be explaining what organizational culture actually is, as applied to the organizations nowadays.

According to R.W. Griffin, in his book Management, he defines organizational culture as a broad form of culture, which comprises of a set of values, beliefs, behaviours, customs, and attitudes that help the members of the organization understand what it stands for, how it does things, and what it considers important. If we go back to our earlier interpretation of culture, the understanding is very much similar, but now it is applied to an organization instead of to a certain group of race or people. Broadly speaking, the organizational culture provides the basis, which includes how things are generally done, the way the employees socialize with one another, and also the codes of ethics, the do's and don't. In many organizations nowadays, especially those in businesses, the organizational culture is usually unique and distinct, which sets the organization apart from others, for examples, not wearing shoes in offices for the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation (YSHHB), and the casual dress but very long hour work in Microsoft. As a result, in many instances, organizational culture is found to portray an identity, which could further enhance the feeling of self-belonging towards the organization.

An organizational culture might have evolved from a number of sources, and one of them is from the organization's founder. All businesses, whether they are big or small, start from a single person or a group of people, who come up with the business idea and implement it. As the owner and the top most person within the organization, he exerts the strongest influence on how the organization handles its functions, in deciding what actions are to be taken, and the direction the organization is heading in the present and future perspectives. For example, the YSHHB is a foundation headed by His Majesty the Sultan himself. As we know, His Majesty has earned himself the name the 'People's Sultan', especially due to his caring and very much attention towards the welfare of his people. As a result, the foundation is very involved in welfare activities, such as giving donation to charities, and building houses for the poor.

Another source of organizational culture are the symbols, stories, heroes, slogans, and ceremonies associated with the organization. This is also the most likely apparent to the general public, especially for business organizations, because things like symbols and slogans could easily be seen on their products or in their advertisements. For example, Apple Computer, which produces Macintosh computers and a very simple and user-friendly operating system, has 'Think Different' as its slogan. The slogan urges its employees to be innovative in designing their products so that they could compete in the market, which is dominated by their rival, Microsoft. As a result, the slogan has inspired creativity, and is very much reflected in Apple's distinctive lines of products, such as, the colourful and cableless iMac computers, the handy iPod music players, and the iTunes music store, where internet users could download original songs legally for very low prices.

Corporate success and shared experiences also shape organizational culture. Past and present experiences, whether there are successes or failures, would leave profound effects on an organization as they provide the lessons on what to do and what not to do. For example, Hallmark Cards has provided strong cultural sense, which it had gained from its years of success in the greeting cards industry.

Sometimes the factor that influences the organizational culture could come from outside the...
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