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Essay plan Intro: Define culture. Explain running order of essay.

Para 1: Contrast organisational culture and corporate culture. Para 2: Say who Schein is – key writer on consultancy, organisation processes, change. Describe 3 levels of culture – draw diagram Para 3: Define model. Say something about the general use of models by management teams. Para 4: Give practical example of how a packaging company used Schein’s model Discuss what a “culture change” plan might be. Para 5: visible artefacts Para 6: shared values Para 7: basic assumptions Conclusion: emphasise the limits of the model – i.e. says nothing about how to change people’s perspectives, needs to be supplemented by training, coaching, etc. Also does not offer any real insight into diversity (e.g. gender / race / national differences) … and mention Hofstede’s work as being a good approach to use in conjunction with Schein.

Outline Schein’s model of culture. How might a management team use this model to guide their “culture change” plan?

Edgar Schein defines culture as being about the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by the members of an organisation. These assumptions and beliefs often operate unconsciously, so that much of what an organisation counts as its ‘values’ are taken-for-granted, rather than being purposefully explained in any depth. In this essay, I will start by contrasting organisational and corporate culture. I will then outline Schein’s ‘three layers’ model of culture. Moving on to the second part of the question, I will first of all define what is meant by a ‘model’, highlighting the benefits and hazards of a management team using ‘models’. Having established these benefits and hazards at a more generic way, I will then write more specifically about an actual application of Schein’s model of culture. To do so, I will show how a packaging company I know has adopted a plan to move their organisation from a highly independent and competitive culture to one that is interdependent and collaborative across sites. Using Schein’s model, I will provide specific examples of how they have used each of his layers of culture, to plan intentional changes to the culture. In this way, I will demonstrate how highly practical, and flexible, Schein’s model can be. In conclusion, I will summarise the benefits and then the limitations of using Schein’s model. Although most writers interchange the concepts ‘corporate culture’ and ‘organisational culture’, Linstead and Grafton-Small (1990’s) differentiate between the two. This essay question relates more to their definition of ‘corporate culture’, which they describe as being something which is purposefully planned and created by management, and then sold or imposed onto the rest of the organisation. This contrasts strongly with their description of ‘organisational culture’ which they describe as something that is much more organic, and that emerges within the organisation, as a result of the creativity of the different people involved. This essay is centred on intentionally changing culture, therefore I will leave aside the organic growth of culture, and instead write about ‘corporate culture’ that is devised, planned and imposed. Schein has written extensively on a range of organisational processes, notably organisation culture and culture change. Writers such as Harrison (1970’s) and Charles Handy (also 1970’s) produced typologies of organisational culture, with Harrison differentiating between cultures with such labels as ‘task culture’, ‘role culture’, ‘power culture’ and ‘person culture’. In contrast, Schein offered a model of culture which focused attention on the different ways that an understanding of culture might be accessed. His model (1985) might be described as the ‘three layers’ of culture: Visible artefacts, Shared values and Basic assumptions. These

with the arrow showing that ‘visible artefacts’ are most easily accessible. Visible artefacts Accessibility Shared values Basic assumptions Before looking in any depth at a particular example of how a management team might use Schein’s ‘three layer’ model. In this way. As a way of illustrating the differences between these layers. we can see that the benefits of using ‘models’ might include enabling researchers and managers: • To have more focused conversations about a topic • To avoid being sidetracked by topics which are not central to the situation • To identify a rationale for their thoughts and/or actions which they can then also share with others. I will now give examples of each. The diagram shows the three different layers. ways forward. the theorist wants to offer a way for others to see a situation more clearly. A model is a simplified explanation.layers are differentiated one from the other by virtue of how easily they might be seen and understood by both insiders and outsiders of the organisation. By offering such a simplification. so that they can identify more straightforward. and hopefully more successful. and ‘basic assumptions’ are the least easily accessible. or ‘picture’. of what may be a complicated concept. This simplification is expected to assist researchers and practitioners to clear away unnecessary complications and details when thinking about a problem or situation. and to clarify the benefits and hazards of using ‘models’. it is perhaps useful to define what is meant exactly by ‘model’. .

therefore. and were needed by. However. collaboration and a recognition that all parts of the company were dependent on. indicates that the management team were interested in ‘corporate culture. That is. There has been a substantial project called ‘Profit by Design’ which communicates clearly that designers are expected to collaborate across sites: awards are given for collaborative work. beliefs and attitudes. three particular sites were chosen to house customer education centres. This necessitates travel to that site. By addressing each of the three layers in turn. Specifically. which makes it possible to share ideas more easily. This. there are limitations to this model. more inclusive approach to listening to staff’s values and beliefs about what really helps them to work collaboratively. • Shared values. This packaging company wanted to make an intentional change in their culture. There is now shared software across the different sites. so that they recognised that the most important issue was the overall profit for the company. the managers planned to communicate their desired changes by offering descriptions of values. the management team’s change plan included a longer. . Schein’s model provided a tool for them to identify different ways in which they could intentionally change the culture. It is perhaps helpful to give examples of actions this team took to address each of the levels: • Visible artefacts: Across the country. they hoped also to change the basic assumptions that laid below these two levels.The potential hazards of using ‘models’ relate to each of the benefits. individualism versus collectivism. and sometimes in slightly compromised situations out in the market place. they were able to have conversations which focused on the different ways in which culture is communicated. I will refer to a practical example within a packaging company. On the latter point. Therefore. as with every simplified picture of a complex situation. they did not determine the details themselves. and training courses are attended by groups mixed across the different sites. All of these examples show how the management team have made visible the message that across-site collaboration is expected and encouraged. 1990’s). These statements were then the ones that appeared on the companywide statement of values. These centres are used by all the other sites. both for sales and for design. all the other parts. The management team wanted to foster a spirit of wider team work. By changing the visible artefacts and articulated values. At this level. Schein’s ‘three layers’ model can be used to good effect by management teams as they draw up plans to change their corporate culture. in such a way that evidences their own understanding of the complexities of the situation How might a management team use Schein’s model to guide their “culture change” plan? In answering this question. The organisation had previously been structured in such a way that each of the manufacturing sites were profit centres which operated separately from the other sites. Instead. Doing so would have contradicted their intention to encourage greater collaboration. whether or not their concerns are reflected in their chosen model • To communicate a rationale for their decisions to others. as a result of using a ‘model’. that explained the behaviours and attitudes which the managers expected. which I have witnessed. Although the management team was clear about the specific changes they wanted to make. believing that they could change the culture intentionally (Linstead and Grafton-Small. the management team wanted to change the culture to one where teams shared expertise across the various sites. It also meant that the company was not benefitting as much as it wanted to from the skills and knowledge of its combined design and sales teams. Hofstede offers five dimensions for comparing cultures: low versus power distance. nor is there any mention of diversity within and between cultures. national meetings are held for designers. and in some cases this resulted in less profit for the company as a whole. there is no mention of any processes for how to make changes to culture. masculinity versus femininity. They were often in competition with each other. researchers and managers might find it more difficult: • To have conversations which range widely enough to cover topics that fall outside the extent of their chosen model • To recognise which topics are central to their own concerns. and means that both designers and sales people are talking with each other about how best to present work to make a good impression on their respective customers. and separately for sales. establishing through ‘rites and rituals’ that these two functions should have contact within their profession and across the different sites.

drawn from the writer’s own experience. Your mark will be heavily influenced by the style of your written response. And it goes beyond the basic definition of culture by contrasting organisational and corporate culture It is nearly all from the slides … except for Hofstede and the practical example. It defines terms: culture. and follows the running order as promised in that introduction It gives a clear conclusion. This shows that you can write fairly full essays by thinking in depth about the content of the lectures. . offers a useful and straightforward way to understand how cultures are communicated. not only by the facts or opinions you give. model. long. A pass would probably be achieved without mention of Hofstede. You can comment on organisations that you have experienced as a customer or observer or worker … so long as you relate the example to the theory. and how you quote different writers. and strengthens understanding of the theory at the centre of the essay It mentions a practical example. • • • • • • • This example essay would probably receive a mark of over 70%. without the distinction between corporate and organisational culture and without a practical example. It shows how you integrate theory into your essay.low versus high uncertainty avoidance. Schein. Comments on this essay This example essay demonstrates the following: • It mentions more than one theory (Harrison and Hofstede) even though only one is specifically is asked for – this allows a comparison of theories. therefore.versus short-term orientation. It gives strengths and limitations of the theory It gives a clear introduction which outlines what will be covered.