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Abdul Sattar Alvi

Organization Culture: The values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and
psychological environment of an organization. Organizational culture includes an organization's expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid. Also called corporate culture, it's shown in:

(1) The ways the organization conducts its business, treats its employees, customers, and the wider community.

(2) The extent to which freedom is allowed in decision making, developing new ideas, and personal expression.

(3) How power and information flow through its hierarchy.

(4) How committed employees are towards collective objectives.

It affects the organization's productivity and performance, and provides guidelines on customer care and service, product quality and safety, attendance and punctuality, and concern for the environment. It also extends to production-methods, marketing and advertising practices, and to new product creation. Organizational culture is unique for every organization and one of the hardest things to change.

Do Organizations Have Uniform Cultures?
Organizational culture represents a common perception held by the organization members.

Dominant culture expresses the core values that are shared by a majority of the organization’s members. Subcultures tend to develop in large organizations to reflect common problems, situations, or experiences. Core Values or dominant (primary) values are accepted throughout the organization. Page: 1

' Kilmann. (2002) indicates that 'a strong organizational culture will exert more influence on employees than a weak one. more deeply rooted cultures than others. Conversely. assumptions. a strong culture and the internalized controls associated with it could result in individuals placing unconstrained demands on themselves. values. Page: 2 . For example. and makes it clear what it expects and how it wishes people to behave or in other words. that 'a positive organizational culture reinforces the core beliefs and behaviors that a leader desires while weakening the values and actions the leader rejects.Abdul Sattar Alvi Strong versus Weak Culture: Strong culture is one that is internally consistent. commitment. pervasive culture was beneficial to all organizations because it fostered motivation. Obviously. and (2) the pervasiveness (number) of consistent beliefs. some appear to have stronger. If the culture is strong and supports high ethical standards. March and Simon 1958). Strong culture is said to exist where staff respond to stimulus because of their alignment to organizational values. and practices embraced by most members of the organization. as well as acting as a barrier to adaptation and change. facilitated internal integration and coordination. assumptions. solidarity. meaning that behavioral norms and ways of doing things become so important that they begin to overshadow the original purpose of the organization (Merton 1957. identity. poisoning the life of the organization and hindering any future potential for growth. A strong culture could also be a means of manipulation and co-optation (Perrow 1979). to the point of suggesting that a strong culture may not always be desirable.' Although all organizations have cultures. which. Saxton. Peters and Waterman (1982) indicates that 'a negative culture becomes toxic. and practices. values.' Byrne. Still others noted potential dysfunctions of a strong culture. and practice across organizational members. The emphasis was on (1) the degree of consistency of beliefs. in turn. values. there is Weak Culture where there is little alignment with organizational values and control must be exercised through extensive procedures and bureaucracy. and sameness. it should have a very powerful and positive influence on employee behaviour. and Serpa. Initially. Many early proponents of organizational culture tended to assume that a strong. is widely shared. a strong culture was conceptualized as a coherent set of beliefs. It could further contribute to a displacement of goals or sub goal formation. assumptions. there is an inevitable bridge joining organizational culture and the level of success it enjoys. (1986) defined strong cultures as 'those where organization members place pressure on other members to adhere to norms.

Schein (1992) notes that. Learned as a way of solving basic problems of external adaptation and internal integration. indeed. characterized by rapidly changing environments and internal workforce diversity. and feel in relation to those problems. he argues that just because a strong organizational culture is fairly stable does not mean that the organization will be resistant to change. Therefore. or more nuanced. is taught to new members as the correct way to perceive. He suggests that the culture of modern organizations should be strong but limited. a strong organizational culture has generally been viewed as a conservative force. need a strong organizational culture but one that is less pervasive in terms of prescribing particular norms and behavioral patterns than may have existed in the past. think. view of organizational culture. It is possible for the content of a strong culture to be change-oriented. but the open system view of organizations recognized that culture is also important in mediating adaptation to the environment (see Chapter 3: Overview of the Management and the Organizational Effectiveness Literatures). Culture’s Functions : •  A pattern of shared basic assumptions within an organization.Abdul Sattar Alvi Culture was initially seen as a means of enhancing internal integration and coordination. the acceptance of new ideas and perspectives. Has worked well enough to be considered valid. Today's organizations. Seeing culture as important for facilitating organizational innovation. • • Page: 3 . differentiating fundamental assumptions that are pivotal (vital to organizational survival and success) from everything else that is merely relevant (desirable but not mandatory). This view was supported by Collins and Porras (1994) in their famous study (Built to Last) of companies that had strong and lasting performance. in contrast to the view that a strong organizational culture may be dysfunctional for contemporary business organizations that need to be changeoriented. The traditional view of a strong culture could be contrary to the ability of organizations to adapt and change. even if strong organizational cultures in the past typically were not. However. and needed organizational change may require a different.

Distributing power and status. • • • • • Page: 4 . Measurement determining how well the group is doing.how goals should be achieved. Goals -. Means -. Explaining the unexplainable ideology and religion.shared understanding of primary tasks.Abdul Sattar Alvi Managing External Adaptation: • Mission and strategy -. and love. • • Managing Internal Integration: Creating a common language and conceptual categories. Defining and allocating rewards and punishments. Defining group boundaries and criteria for inclusion and exclusion. • • Correction remedial and repair strategies. Developing norms of intimacy. friendship.derived from mission.

• • • • Secondary Mechanisms: Organization design and structure. Begun by the company’s founder. Deutsche Bank. • Observed criteria by which leaders recruit. There are few individual offices. • How employees learn culture? Culture is transmitted to employees in a number of forms. retire. gimme an A . Novell. Design of physical space. Organizational systems and procedures. and language. material symbols. Rituals: Rituals are repetitive sequences of activities that express and reinforce the key values of the organization — what goals are most important. Sam Walton.Abdul Sattar Alvi Primary Mechanisms: • What leaders pay attention to. coaching. which people are important. and myths about people and events. • How leaders react to critical incidents and crises. rituals. Similar corporate chants are used by IBM. R. gimme a squiggle. and which people are expendable. and excommunicate organizational members. as a way to motivate and unite his workforce. give me an M. • Observed criteria to allocate rewards and status. Organizational rites and rituals. measure. legends. One of the better-known corporate rituals is Wal-Martsa’s company chant. and control on a regular basis. the most potent being stories. Ericsson.A. Formal statements of organizational philosophy. “Gimme a W. teaching. and creed. and Price Waterhouse Coopers. gimme an L. T !? has become a company ritual that bonds Wal-Mart workers and reinforce Sam Walton’s belief in the importance of his employees to the company’s success. It is essentially made up Page: 5 . even for senior executives. Stories. Material Symbols: The headquarters of Alcoa doesn’t look like your typical head office operation. values. • • Observed criteria by which leaders allocate scarce resources. promote. • Deliberate role modeling.

POP (purchased outside production). The following are examples of terminology used by employees at Knight-Ridder Information. you’ll find yourself learning a whole unique vocabulary of acronyms. social) that are appropriate. If you are a new employee at Boeing. help to preserve it. the types of automobiles top executives are given. Organizations. MAIDS (manufacturing assembly and installation data system). This informal corporate headquarters conveys to employees that Alcoa values openness. the elegance of furnishings. offices. creativity and flexibility. members attest to their acceptance of the culture and. KWIC ( a set of key words in-context). and meeting rooms. over time. and the kinds of behavior (for example. after six months on the job. executive perks. or products that relate to its business. often develop unique terms to describe equipment. suppliers. and relational operator (searching a database for names or key terms in some order). The layout of corporate headquarters. authoritarian. on so doing. risk taking. conservative. equality. and SLO (service level objectives). when they travel by air. Only the car is a Chevrolet (with no driver) and the jet seat is in the economy section of a commercial airliner. Others include the size of offices. Language: Many organizations and units within organizations use language as a way to identify members of a culture or subculture. Some corporations provide their top executives with chauffeur-driven limousines and. CATIA (computer graphics-aided threedimensional interactive application). key personnel.Abdul Sattar Alvi of cubicles. New employees are frequently overwhelmed with acronyms and Jargon that. the degree of egalitarianism desired by top management. and attire. Others may not get to ride in limousines or private jets but they might still get a car and air transportation paid for by the company. By learning this language. and the presence or absence of corporate aircraft are few examples of material symbols. participative. including: BOLD (Boeing online data). customers. individualistic. have Page: 6 . unlimited use of the corporate jet. a California based Data Redistributors: accession number (a number assigned to each individual record in a database). These material symbols convey to employees who is important. common areas.

this terminology acts as a common denominator that unites members of a given culture or subculture. Creating an Ethical Culture is a combination of the following points: 1. Remember. or ethical officers. ombudsmen. Sims and Brinkmann (2003) described Enron’s ethics as “the ultimate contradiction between words and Page: 7 . When senior management is observed (by subordinates) to take the ethical high road. People who act ethically should be visibly rewarded for their behavior. Once assimilated. Offer ethics training. Be a role model and be visible. It should state the organization’s primary values and the ethical rules that employees are expected to follow.Abdul Sattar Alvi become fully part of their language. This might include creation of ethical counselors. A good case study of an unethical organizational culture is the now defunct Enron. Performance appraisals of managers should include a point-by-point evaluation of how his or her decisions measure up against the organization’s code of ethics. Your employees look to the behavior of top management as a model of what’s acceptable behavior in the workplace. 3. unethical acts should be punished. it send a positive message for all employees. Set up seminars. Provide Protective Mechanisms. Creating an Ethical Organizational Culture: List of what management can do to create a more ethical organizational culture. 4. to clarify what practices are and are not permissible. The organization needs to provide formal mechanisms so that employees can discuss ethical dilemmas and report unethical behavior without fear of reprimand. Use these training sessions to reinforce the organization’s standards of conduct. that a code of ethics is worthless if top management fails to model ethical behaviors. Visibly reward ethical acts and punish unethical ones. 5. 2. and similar ethical training programs. Just as importantly. and to address possible ethical dilemmas. Communicate ethical expectations. Appraisals must include the means taken to achieve goals as well as the ends themselves. workshops. Ethical ambiguities can be reduced by creating and disseminating an organizational code of ethics. however.

for example.2 And.Abdul Sattar Alvi deeds. spirituality is a far more abstract quality. 'Organizational spirituality'. the Journal of Organization and Change Management (1994 and 1999). an indication of (American) academics' interest in the topic. However. Spirituality and organizational culture The field of spirituality in the workplace expanded rapidly during the 1990s. then it is a short step from endowing the reified organization with attributes. There are also two journals devoted to the topic: Spirit at Work and Business Spirit. Perez. let us accept that the description provided above is an adequate survey of spirituality.' My literature search has thrown up doctoral theses (Beazley. If one accepts the reification of an organization into an entity with its own reality. and American Behavioral Scientist (2000). 1999). and sits Page: 8 . and 'organizational strategy'. 54 of them published in the five years since 1992. rather than considering that an organization is a collection of people engaged in purposeful activity. For reasons of space. between a deceiving glossy facade and a rotten structure behind” (p. is problematic. as well as special issues of journals devoted solely to the concept—see. Chinmaya Management Review (1999). in 1999. which concerns the strategy of the organization. Spirituality and Religion Interest Group. A special issue of the Journal of Management Education (2000) has advocated the teaching of the subject to management students. 1997. what is organizational spirituality? Konz and Ryan (1999: 201) state that '[n]o agreed-on definition of spirituality in business exists' and cite Kahnwiler and Otte (1997) and McGee (1998) in support of this statement. 1996) and a Master's-level dissertation (Gibbons. the American Academy of Management Annual Meeting set up the Management. whereas culture is an activity (the way we do things around here) and strategy is a process (the way we decide or plan things around here). and that a bibliography distributed at a session on spirituality in the organization at the 1998 Academy of Management conference listed no fewer than 72 books on the subject. Trott. if not viewed as a direct synonym for 'workplace spirituality'. 1999. Enron executives created an organizational culture that valued profits (the bottom line) over ethical behavior and doing what’s right. which concerns the culture of the organization. Numerous journal articles have appeared on the subject. Organizational spirituality subsequently shares the same grammatical meaning as aspects such as 'organizational culture'. 243). the special issues of the Journal of Managerial Psychology (1994). In which case.

at the least.Abdul Sattar Alvi uncomfortably with the other concepts. in between. At best. But it is not an attribute of organizational functioning. it is a feeling about reality and transcendence. OS is a belief. Page: 9 . it is a quality that can be exhibited by the individuals who make up a workforce. OS is neither an activity (the way we act spiritually round here) nor a process (the way we spiritualize around here).