Organizational Culture in India

Organizational Culture in India : An Interpretation through Societal Cultural Forms*
Organizations, as social creatures, operate within the framework of the large societal environment and as such, in the long run, an organization cannot survive if its prevailing culture and values are not congruent with those of the society within which it is operating. Societal culture is the system of publicly and collectively accepted meanings operating for a given society at a given time. Culture of any social system arises from a network of shared ideologies the messages transmitted by such practices typically express not only the explanations of reality, but also the norms and values that proclaim the members the rightness of certain beliefs and practices over others (Warner & Lunt, 1941). Thus, culture acts as the ‘sense-making practices’ (Gephart, 1978, p.553) that helps to convey ideologies to the organisational members. Culture has two basic components - viz., its substance or the networks of meanings contained in its ideologies, norms and values. According to Beyer (1981, p.166), ideologies are “...relatively coherent sets of beliefs that bind some people together and that explain their worlds in terms of cause and effect relations”. By developing the relationships of organization culture to other variables and to membership in various groups, one can assess how important the culture is to the organizational life and to organizational effectiveness. Several cultural forms are operating in concert and thus, helping to uncover networks of interacting meanings that characterizes organization culture and gives new insights into the organizations. An organization, being a social entity, is basically an aggregation of individuals and hence, organizations are reflections of the sum of the constituent members’ individual cognitive tendencies and beliefs. Individuals within an organization may act as founders, leaders or functionaries according to the structure, processes or rules framed by the organizational members. Individuals only determine an organization’s structure, processes and systems, whether internal and external. Thus, individual’s cultural values, beliefs and ideologies influence organizational culture, values and structure. Organization's internal policies and strategies in dealing with the dynamics of external environment is the reflection of a set of values, beliefs and behavioural tendencies that are shared by the dominant coalition of the organization's members. If the workforce happens to be composed mostly of people who experiences positive emotional status, they may choose ‘innovators’ strategies. Positive emotion is associated with decision-making patterns including more rapid and efficient problem-solving strategies. In contrast, an organization may adopt ‘defenders’ strategies when the participants, by and large, hold a negative emotional status. Thus, values and culture of the dominant coalitions within an organization influences the functions and characteristics of an organization. Indian organizations posses a specific pattern of collective feeling and belief which has emerged over time from the unique socio-cultural fabric of the country. Roots of organizational culture in India, thus, cannot be traced without prior understanding of the social context. A ‘traditionally religious’ society like India cannot exist without the meaning, motivation and orientation provided with the individuals by a vigorous spiritual institution and when there is a lack of the above effect, it leads to a deviation from the socially established norms and values. The gradually declining values and ethics in the contemporary Indian society is an outcome of the declining influence of religion on the so-called ‘elite’ who have a stronger influence on shaping the goals and norms for the entire society. The declining influence of religion has resulted in a great deal of confusion and morale dilemma as is being demonstrated by all sorts of psychoneurotic and deviant behaviours. Thus, both - for the Indian society as well as for the organizations, religion always has a dominant role to play.
An Assignment submitted to Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad as a part of FDP Program in Management during 1997-98 by Anubrata Datta, Murali B., Venkatachalam P.K. & Prema S.


Organizational Culture in India

Religion, as a structure, refers to those properties of an aggregate that are emergent and that consequently do not characterize the separate elements composing the aggregate Thus, religion, as a collective characteristic, provides meaning of reality so as to integrate the society. Berger, et al., (1973, p.79), defined religion as “...a cognitive and normative structure that makes it possible for man to feel at home in this universe”. Most of the societies in the world have their own religion and one can learn a lot about a society by studying its religion. Religion, in its simplest form, is the worship of gods and goddesses and the people’s notion about their gods and goddesses in all these societies are very well reflected in the day to day life. In many cases, gods are important explanations of the events in the social life and is a binding force for bringing in unity and solidarity in the social life. For example, Christians conceive god as someone who explains the course of their social or even individual lives, who can help them attaining success and avoiding troubles or worries and who is to be loved for his own sake. Thus, they view god as the creator and judge and as friend, benefactor and savior. As scientists draw models, religious models can also be formed to explain the workings of the world. Each model is influenced by the particular features of the society in which it is fashioned. It also varies according to the situation the society wants to be explained. Where science is not highly developed, religious beliefs tend to center around the gods and goddesses to offer some means of solving or controlling the big practical problems encountered by the people in their societal life. Gods and goddesses also serve as a medium of sharing the joys and sorrows of the daily life. Society's religious beliefs may change it there is a shift in its existing doctrines to current desires and aims. Every society believes that its welfare is closely associated with the observance of its moral code of conduct. In societies, wherein sectional and individual interests are strong, communal conflicts may arise which may threaten to disrupt the entire community. There are always some restrictions determined by the patterned roles - on the emotional demands that people can make on one another. Here, personal relationships with the gods can play an important part in compensating for thwarted social relationships. In closed societies, the sense of solidarity is often reinforced through religion as it is an important instrument of developing solidarity. Religious observations serve to reunite the individuals and the society. Religious symbols inculcate unity with respect for the group. The intimate connection between religious ideologies and rituals and the sense of unity of the constituent groups of the society suggests that religion is a second institutional focus of solidarity. The members of the society have a shared identity being the believers of the same reality, of the same symbols of their own collective life which influences a particular social setting. The religious symbols hold their special power through a concentration of meaning, for example, the celebration of communion on the Thursday preceding Easter Commemorates the Last Supper, at which Christ transformed the meaning of bread and wine into body and blood. They are even more powerful than the things they are material expressions of, because they can more easily be held in the mind, specially at times when the individual is separated from the group. But religious symbols, such as these also involves the body and may derive an additional power from their evocation of physical sensations, which provides an underpinning of bodily experience for the cognitive experiences of memory and understanding.

Influence of Religion on Organizational Life
Every traditional society had developed a number of institutional structures within itself. These institutions provide meaning and order in the entire structure of society, as well as in the content of culture. In most of the contemporary societies, religion has this orienting role. Since the

Organizational Culture in India

industrial societies tend to restrict personal relationships to a smaller sphere, people find it increasingly difficult to generate human satisfaction for their emotional needs. In industry, people are usually grouped together according to the needs of the job, with virtually no attention paid to their previous associations or to their personal accord. The job itself demands a very impersonal type of cooperation if it is to be done effectively and efficiently. Again, demands of the industry often forces people to change their jobs and homes, to break old associations and form new ones. Thus, industrialization itself contains the roots of alienation since an average labour in an industrialized society remains isolated from his family, from the production process (as a consequence of a high degree of job division and specialization) and from the product he produces. Indifference, aloofness, passivity, or lack of concern which persists even today amongst a majority of the Indian workers had its root amidst the accumulated and cumulative effects of alienation which can effectively be removed through culminating religion-based organizational norms which is still an unexplored opportunity. A strong personal affinity towards the god can affect a man’s behaviour in a variety of ways. The strength that people acquire from leaning on god, rather than on men, often generates the power behind major social changes and the entire history of mankind bears testimony of this. Religion, as a system, can be viewed as a medium of handling the fundamental problems of the social organizations - for reducing uncertainty and anxiety, for increasing coherence in human relationships, for assigning meaning to human endeavor, for providing justification for moral obligations. Besides the family and the caste systems, religion was one of the most significant aspects of social life in India which has a profound influence on the organizational culture. For example : 1. Social Integration (a) Religious affiliation provides an institutional setting for regular social intercourse between like-minded persons with similar values. It has been observed that a majority of the Indian managers often hesitate in making decisions independently. A majority of them usually consult few others having a close touch with them. Many a times, religious affiliations become the basis of forming such small cliques within an organization, particularly where people from different religious backgrounds are flocked together. Thus, the religious settings provide valuable impetus for the formation of coherent social groups having strong solidarity and cohesiveness that has a significant bearing on the day to day realities in the life of an organization. (b) Members of a particular religious community enjoy a larger and more reliable informal social network even within an organization from which they can derive moral support in times of adversity. Due to the increased burden of administrative and business activities, very often Indian workers and managers release their tension and stress while at work which was originally accumulated at home. Social groups based on religious affiliations, under such circumstances, can provide an important informal social settings which might be useful in the problem solving phases or in coping with stress. Thus, religion has a major role as a source of social security. (c) Religious communities may promote fundamental norms regarding health, behavior, interpersonal and familial relationships, business dealings and other dimensions of personal lifestyle. Thus, religion can serve as a means of social control, though this has not yet been utilized perhaps due to lack of awareness. (d) Religious communities participate collectively in the rituals to which they accord significant meaning. Thus, the experiences of worshipping in a group may reinforce private beliefs and may increase the centrality of religious interpretations of personal life experiences. Authorities of an organization can take initiative to influence the beliefs and interpretations of life of the workforce towards more positive direction providing common platforms at the organizational

Organizational Culture in India

level for common worship and prayer for all the religious communities working in the organization. 2. Divine Interaction Personal religious practices may yield psychological benefits also. Individuals construct divine relations engaging a ‘divine self’ in a quest for solace and guidance. A divine personification may be experienced through identification with various figures portrayed in the religious texts, myths and stories. An individual can encounter a problematic situation by considering his/her own personal conditions from the vantage points of the ‘God-role’. Divine interactions may bolster individual’s self-esteem and self-efficacy. According to the Hindu mythology, each individual is only a part of the supreme soul Brahma and as such, each one is very much exposed to this supreme soul. This belief results in a sense of self-worth and perception of one’s physical self and the life beyond. The perception of unconditional divine forgiveness of sins may mitigate personal guilt feelings. It may enhances the perception that the mundane situations and major crises are manageable through personal partnership with a powerful and supreme soul that is almighty. It also reduces worries or self-blames by encouraging individuals to code psychological control of problematic situations that appear irreconcilable. The divine interaction may boost up the perceived well-being by deepening the sense of orderliness and predictability of events and by investing problematic situations with new religious meanings. Thus, the divine relations indirectly contribute a lot to strengthen the religious values and plausibility structures which has some significant bearing on organizational life. 3. Existential Certainty Research shows that people, who enjoy a greater sense of coherence and order in their personal lives, also have better physical and psychological health in comparison to the others. The strong religious belief may deepen the sense of meaning and compressibility. Religion offers a comprehensive framework for ordering and interpreting human events. Thus, routine personal affairs may take on particular meaning and significance within a religious framework. Coherence enhanced by religious practices and observations, may be a valuable aid for the people confronting high levels of stress. Religious ideas are important in the process of adjusting with the ‘boundary experiences’. 4. Denominational Variations There are denominational differences due to difference in ‘moral messages’ across the different religious groups or communities existing in India. Certain religious groups have broader lifestyle requirements, which are even extended to their dietary habits and distinctive patterns of family relations. This may reduce physical disabilities, interpersonal conflicts and other potential stresses and enhances the quality of material relations and family life. The norms of some religious groups influence an individual by fostering an intense quality-orientation, desire for autonomy and sense of belongingness - all of which have a significant bearing on their life within an organizational setting. Religion has a powerful effect on the way people live, the quality of their life, and on the length of time they live to experience that quality (Jarvis and Northcott 1987, p.822). There is not only relationship between religious beliefs and health at the individual level, there is also effect of religion on health and social behaviour at the organizational level. Social pressures affect social group differently. Elderly adults in India usually turn to religion in an effort to alter their appraisal of stress or to manage emotional distress associated with problems they perceive to be insoluble. Individuals’ ability to cope with stress may reduce the harmful effects of stress mainly in two ways :

Organizational Culture in India

(a) Stress Suppressing : The level of religious activity depends upon the amount of stress; as stress increases, individuals are motivated to engage in religious pursuits more frequently. Thus, stress erode an individual and the religiosity compensate for their negative effects. It was found through research that negative net impact of stress on an individual will increase when the positive net effects of religious involvement are held constant. (b) Stress Buffering : The beneficial effects of religiosity vary across the level of stress one individual is encountering. The religious involvement is more effective in overcoming the harmful impacts of stress. The strongest buffering effects occur at the higher levels of stress.

Ceremonies, Rites & Rituals : Organizational Impacts
Many societal beliefs and values have percolated in the Indian organizational culture which are expressed through the various rituals, rites and ceremonies. Religious ceremonies and ritual practices are integral parts not only of the individual life but also of the organizational life. Cultural researchers, sometimes, distinguish among rituals, rites and ceremonies. In many occasions, these terms are used interchangeably and in few cases, the researchers use different definitions of the same term. Hence, conceptual confusion is a problem. Trice and Beyer (1984) for example, defined ritual in a more restricted manner - as a relatively rote, clearly specified set of repetitive behaviors. Unlike most other researchers, Trice & Beyer reserved the term 'rite' for the more complex set of behaviors defined above as a ritual; ceremonies are defined as a complex collection of rites that are enacted only once, at special occasion. Alternatively, Alvesson & Berg (1992), used the term rituals for the activities which reinforce existing power relations in a hierarchy, seeing rites as less formal activities serving a broader variety of functions. Such fine distinctions are difficult to maintain for all practical purposes. For example, power can be enhanced in informal collective activities; both rites and ritual can be relatively short, specified sets of behavior and some ceremony-like activities are repeated periodically. Enhancement rituals bring recognition to exceptional performers, such as, top sales people or the recipients of promotions (Rosesn, 1991).

The term ceremony represent ritualized events that are preplanned to occur in a designated time and place and are accepted and desired by some participant groups. Ceremonies are accepted as legitimate within a culture because it serves all variety of functions. In ceremonies, people find completeness within a bounded time and space as they become part of the celebration. The designated space of the ceremony can be used for other activities in other times, but during the time of the ceremony the space is reserved for the unique use. In all, there is a planning or preparation for activities, a transition to a new use of a regular place or to a new and special place, there are time boundaries stated and assumed around the period of activity and the participants can easily describe and acknowledge the differences from normal work activity. The ancestors of every traditional society have operated from the same activity relationships that of work integrated with ceremony. Ceremonies were designed for the productive goal of improving the outcome of the work - like the ritual dances to increase the harvest. As more complex societies emerged, class differences permitted a selected few to conduct ceremonies to support the work efforts of the mass. Lack of ceremonies may result into the sterility of work and in-work isolation from rest of the activities and a consequent reduction in personal satisfaction. Thus, ceremonies are activities which can increase the satisfaction and provide the meaning of work people are engaged in. The changing concept of organizational culture has increasingly legitimized play as an activity which is quite healthy for the organization. Ceremony has great similarity to play

Organizational Culture in India

(Dandridge,1986, p.160) and it is capable of bringing some of the benefits of play into the work setting in a controlled manner. Integrating work and play through ceremony can return richness to work and an experience of the community and purpose within the organization. Thus, ceremony is a medium through which play and its characteristics can be incorporated into the wok situation. Play is ‘affective’ as it is related to emotions while work is ‘effective’ since it is related to a outcome. Play forms the flow between the rhythms of work, family life and individual life. Play is an important means for socializing, stimulating creativity and releasing tension. Hence, play in work may serve the individuals in ways that are useful to the organization. The Age of Ganapati In the Indian tradition, an idol of Lord Ganesh or Ganapati (Hindu God with elephant head and human body-considered benign and generous, signifying prosperity) rests in a niche above and inside the front door. This is particularly prevalent in north India and is not so common in, say, the eastern parts of the country. P.C. Sen heads one of the country's largest non-bank finance companies, the Peerless General Finance and Investment Company. The Bengali owned company, however, has adopted the North-Indian custom of giving Ganesh priority over Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Peerless offices have a Ganesh on display rather than a Lakshmi. Even the Tatas have bowed to these social pressures. They are Parsis...
Source : S Dutta, 1997, p.109

Religious beliefs emerge as a managerial dilemma when staff are asked to work on holidays by an organization. This may lead to conflict with the management. The conflict may arise because the attitudes, values and beliefs of the organization, in general, fails to match with those of the individuals who carry out the work. Conflicts of value often arise at places of work since different people have entirely different set of priorities and to be effective, the organizational authorities must have the capacity to harmonization the values of the individual. These values may be either religious or ethical (Jarvis and Northcott 1987, p.822) Ceremonies as a tool of Management Most of the organizations in India, even today, observe religious ceremonies and ritual practices to encourage and conserve the social culture. Real life experiences show that the rites and ceremonies differ from state to state and most of the organizations either celebrate such ceremonies or grant holidays so that the employees can observe them. The practice is much more widespread around special festivals when new images of the gods are installed in many organizations. The basic logic behind observing the ceremonies within the organizations are as under. Participants can experience and build competence useful in the common work day. Useful behaviour can be reinforced during the ceremonial observations. Individuals can transcend their work-role and experience the organizational unity. The ‘wholeness’ of the company can be emphasized. Social needs can be fulfilled or the experience of comradeship (Companion) and community at wok can be developed. Usually, attention is directed towards the values, roles or goals of the organization. Ceremonies also project the organization’s image. New vitality or renewed energy can be elicited from the organizational participants. The inspirational value of the work ceremony parallels that of a religious ceremony. New temporary boundaries are


Organizational Culture in India

provided for an outlet for aggressive impulses or in which general work anxieties can be relieved. It serves as short-run -substitutes for real solutions. In some organizations, goal achievements are celebrated. New lines of communication are created or different lines not usually permitted within a hierarchy may be used. This can lead to better integration of work units or new information in vertical communication. Power or importance can be invested in specific individuals. This is useful to make them more effective or to permit scapegoating in subsequent ceremonial fixing. Ceremony is more likely to be accepted and practiced if the organization builds ceremony around activities that exist rather than a new one, preferably that originate with employees. If a change in organizational pattern or value is desired, the management can introduce it through the existing activities. The effect of a ceremony may be influenced by the intensity of involvement among the participants. Ceremonies are a part of the total effort by which the ideologies of the organization can be broadcasted. New members can be incorporated into the organization with the ceremony, serving as the rite of passage. Lessons are taught and status is changed, often in the context of a fun or play.

According to Robbins (1994, p.616), “Rituals are repetitive sequences of activities that express and reinforce the key values of the organization, what goals are most important, which people are most important and which are expendable”. According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Organizational Behaviors (1995), “An organizational ritual is a rule-governed, structured, and preplanned activity of a symbolic character, collectively produced and enacted in a social context, face to face with an audience. It is a dramatic occasion, with beginnings and endings are clearly demarcated. The participants have well defined roles to be performed like parts in play” (p.494). Rituals provide a socio-temporal orientation for individuals within the nested circles of the week, the season, and the year. They let people know where they are in time. Since antiquity, time keeping has always been a part of the religious sphere of life. The weekly observance of the Sabbath (day of religious services) and the yearly observance of the major holidays preserve the collective memories of the participating group. The periodicity of these celebrations remind the members of their shared past and emphasizes a continuity with the preceding generations that performed these same rituals in the same way. Rituals generally have a bonding effect, though their repetitive nature gives them a similarity with certain neurotic traits. The remaking of these bonds, year after year, accumulates in the memory of all the celebrants. Rituals are also linked with the past since they are performed consistently year after year. The repetition of these ceremonies are sediment in the memory, building up a sense of continuity over the life-time in weekly and yearly cycles. Many researchers have considered rituals as a crucial link between ideologies that provide the framework for collective life and the associated forms of individual experiences. This approach encompasses several conflicting schools of thought - functionalist, critical theorists, constructivists etc. Functionalist interpretations describe rituals in Durkheimian terms (Idler,1992, p.1054), as enhancing group solidarity serving an integrative function that reinforces the power intensifying collectively members' satisfaction, commitment and loyalty. For example, Trice and Beyer (1984) described rituals serving as a manifestation of the latent, instruments and expressive functions - all of which are congruent with managerial interests.


Organizational Culture in India

In contrast, the critical students of rituals emphasize conflict and power, describing how rituals help the dominant coalitions to achieve and maintain domination over others in the organization. Some critical studies, for example, have documented the existence of rituals of counter-culture resistance by lower level or competing managerial-groups. For example, different groups of assembly-line workers may organize a ritual to preserve, strengthen, and differentiate their overlapping collective identities. Finally, research in dramatical tradition (Turner, 1986) has attempted to transcend both functional and critical perspectives by attending to the ways rituals are observed - like dramas, with scripted roles, hidden meanings, and latent functions. An annual business breakfast meeting of an organization can be described as an integration ritual, wherein the various subgroups (reflecting functional divisions, the promoted and the unpromoted, insiders and outsiders) react quite differently to the activities scripted by management, some withdrawing, others actively resisting, and still others eagerly (apparently) embracing prescribed values and behaviours. In some larger organizations in India, ritual practices are often manifested through the form of religion by delegation - wherein the members of the Puja (Worship) Committee, are essentially responsible for various rituals to be performed individually or collectively. Many big organizations including some multinationals (like Hindustan Lever Ltd.) have recognized the importance of meditation and mass-prayer (Bhajans & Kirtans) as stress-coping devices and such practices are gaining popularity day by day since these were integral parts of religious observations in ancient India. Chatterjeee D.(1994, p.6) observed that some organizations build temples in the premises as a part of their employee-welfare measures. In few cases, company executives attend religious ceremonies observed at the house of the workers and these dimension of organizational culture have its root into the religion-based societal culture of India. Tata company executives also have their own little altar in their offices. There is no pressure to maintain the office as a secular place, and the religious flavor creeps in. In many companies, there are annual religious rituals for the prosperity of the company. A priest is kept on a retainer to pray for the company's prosperity and to sprinkle holy water and flowers on the premises (Dutta S.,1997, p.109). Thus, the ideal-most organizational culture in India must appreciate such an organizational climate where in there is mutual trust, respect and coordination not only between employees with an organization but also within organizations operating the broader society. Some Commonly Observed Rituals in Indian Organizations The regular observance of some traditional religious rituals even in some non-Hindu businesses is significant. These rituals are maintained in spite of the legal requirements. For example :
Sankranti or Pongal Ramzan Holi Guru Nanak Jayanthi Durga Puja & Dasera Christmas Good Friday Id -ul-Zuha Rakshabandhan Dipawali

The collective sentiments, that emerge during these days of observation of rituals give the participants a special bond of unity and identity that unite the individuals with the group. These times are special either because of their heightened spiritual or social significance. Their spiritual significance derives from the performance of rituals and the presence of manipulation of symbols that are seen infrequently but are central to the key historical events in the faith. The anticipation of and participation in these yearly ceremonies heightens the individuals’ sense of membership in the group. Degradation rituals celebrate the opposite - the defamation and removal of supposedly poor performers, particularly those in leadership positions (Gephart, 1978). Renewal rituals seek to

Organizational Culture in India

strengthen group functioning, temporarily resolving some problems while drawing attention away from others - a description that according to Trice & Beyer, bears a striking resemblance to most organizational development interventions. Some other kinds of rituals are celebrated for conflict reduction, integration or endings. For example, when a firm goes out of business, it can be described as organizational funeral to recognize and share the resultant sadness. When ritual is successful, participants are emotionally affected, they embrace the role they have portrayed. However, rituals have transition moments, when participants can self-consciously and skillfully, or semiconsciously and awkwardly, distance themselves from the good-member roles they have been asked to play. Often such role distancing activities take the form of humor, irony, or selfdeprecating remarks. Thus, by framing a ritual as a link between the collective and the individual, the possibility of less-than-perfect role embarrassment emerges. Furthermore, sometimes a deviant may step out of the scripted interaction by challenging a participant who represents the powers whose authority is being legitimized. Such deviant challenges can be highly dramatic and, if resolved to the satisfaction of those who are attempting to orchestrate the ritual, may actually reinforce its desired effect by silencing or punishing dissenting interpretations. The rituals combine the social and cognitive dimensions of an individual’s personality, i.e., it connects the inward looking act of remembering with outward physical performance. Person with strong religious faith may offer an especially compelling framework for interpreting daily experiences and a major life events alike. Moreover, personal religious faith may compensate for the lack of more sophisticated cognitive resources. As in other areas of organizational culture, research studies of rituals have focused more often on the functionalist, managerial, power-reinforcing aspects of rituals, rather than on the deeper, more complex conflict, power, and dissent issues highlighted in careful enthnographies by scholars like Alvesson and Berg (1992).

Rites of passage were first documented by the anthropologists to describe the way people ritualize and celebrate key social transitions in their communities - such as birth, coming of age, marriage and death. A rite amalgamates a number of discrete cultural forms into an integrated, unified public performance : a ceremonial connects several rites into a single occasion or event (Trice,1984). Rites involve relatively elaborate and planned sets of activities carried through social interactions usually for the benefit of an audience with multiple social consequences. They are social dramas wherein there are well defined roles for the individuals and are enacted repeatedly on all similar occasions. It provides culturally rich occasions for intermittent observations also because they often occur within the presence of an audience giving an insight to the event and its culminating influence in organizational life. Their social consequences link rites of ceremonies to other characteristics of organization like interpersonal relationships, leadership, group dynamics, motivation, etc. Rites were used in primitive societies to ensure that the people will behave in a traditional as well as socially acceptable way. Hence, the rites can even be modified to suit the requirements of the modern societies and make people conform with the required set of socially desirable behavior and make people move towards a set entirely new roles. Thus, the existing rites can be modified to create new ideologies that are consistent with the demands of the external environment. Some of the cultural expressions are required to modify the rites that are found in the prevailing organizational subcultures. If such elements are incorporated, the modified rites are likely to win the acceptance rather than introducing an entirely new set of rites. The managers may also introduce new rites to express ideologies which are positively valued without disturbing the existing rites. If the new rites are accepted by the organizational

Organizational Culture in India

members, the old rites will loose their appeal and gradually wither away. In organizations, which are operating within a highly dynamic environment, such rites would prove to be valuable aids in supporting individuals who need the introduction of new roles to achieve the desired changes. At the organizational level, no rites or ceremonies are found for establishing new structures or to alter the existing systems and processes without degrading their occupants. If such rites exist, information about how they work will be valuable to other organizations. If they do not exist, perhaps someone should try to invent and establish them. Trice and Beyer (1984, p.653) have identified six different types of rituals in organization, including rites of passage, rites of degradation and rites of renewal. A typology of rites by their manifest, expressive social consequences are presented below :
Types of Rites Rites of Passage Example Training in an Organization Manifest, Expressive Social Consequences Facilitate transition of persons into social roles & statuses that are new for them Examples of Possible Latent, Expressive Consequences Minimize changes in ways people carry out social roles. Reestablish equilibrium in on-going social relations. Publicly acknowledge that problems exist & discuss them in detail. Defend group boundaries by redefining who belongs & whom doesn’t. Reaffirm social importance & value of role involved Spread good news about the organization Provide public recognition of individuals for the accomplishments : motivate others to similar efforts Enable organizations to take some credit for individual accomplishments Emphasize social value of performance of social roles Reassure members that something is being done about problems Disguise nature of problems Defer acknowledgment of problems Focus attention towards some problems & away from others Legitimate & reinforce existing systems of power & authority. Deflect attention away from solving problems Compartmentalize conflict & its disruptive effects Reestablish equilibrium in disturbed social relations

Rites of Degradation

Replacing the top Executive

Dissolve social identities & their power

Rites of Enhancement

Seminars & Sponsorships

Enhance social identities & their power

Rites of Renewal

Organizational Development Activities

Refurbish social structures & improve their functioning

Rites of Conflict Reduction

Collective Bargaining

Reduce conflict and aggression

Rites of Integration

Office Party

Encourage & revive Permit venting of emotion & temporary common feelings that loosening of various norms bind members together Reassert & reaffirm, by contract, moral & commit them to a rightness of usual norms. social system (Adopted with modifications from Trice and Beyer (1984, p.657)

The general functions of all types of rites seem to be to preserve and maintain the on-going social culture even within the set up of an organization. Although persons may move within the social order during the rites, at the end, the overall social hierarchy remains the same. Particularly, in a highly stratified society like India, it becomes a prominent issue wherein certain castes or classes have no or only partial right to take active part in some rites commonly observed in the country in different social settings. Because they are public and collective means of expression - rites are more likely to arise and be successful in areas in which some social consensus already exists about the ideologies and values. Such consensus are really difficult to arrive at or conserve. Because they are elaborate and large scale events, they require large amount of resources, it seems likely that rites most often will be used in modern organizations to express the ideologies of dominant coalitions, or elite who are likely to have the largest stake in

Organizational Culture in India

maintaining the status quo. Managers must know how to evaluate the rites in order to determine the degree to which they are achieving the desired goals and the other consequences. Effective managers are those who are good at making such assessments and using them to continue, modify or discontinue rites. Finally, rites provide some practical advantages like they have predetermined beginnings and ends identifying, observing and even participating in these might help in developing insights to explore the organization culture. They involve the deployment of considerable amount of resources - both human and materials due to intended as well as unintended consequences. Without knowing these consequences, the knowledge of organizations cannot be complete or substantial.

In performing the activities of rites and ceremonies, people make the use of other cultural forms - certain customary languages, gestures, ritualized behaviours, artifacts, other symbols and settings - to heighten the expression of shared meanings appropriate to the occasion. Often these shared meanings also are conveyed through myths, sagas, legends, or other stories associated with the occasion. Myths mainly originate from the religion. Myth can be described as a metaphor of conflicting forces of nature, and a resonant expression of fantasies, values or aspirations of the people cultures". In other words, myths depict the symbolic world of beliefs, fantasies, values and norms. It represents a new dimension of human sensitivity, aspiration and speculation in all its relationships and phases interposed upon the external world of man with a thrilling poignant, tragic, beautiful and terrific interplay of powers and qualities - natural and human. Myths bind the present with the past through a set of beliefs and norms. It establishes a stable social arrangement, social order and culture of the people of a particular country on the one hand and universal values and traditions on the other. Myths are the major sources of knowledge about a particular culture. They have a socio-religious frame of reference through which one can peep into the past socio-religious happenings. This has a positive influence in developing and shaping the pattern of social behaviour. Myths are integral parts of the societal culture. It speaks about the past and depicts the evolution of mankind. It also indicates the different stages of development of culture and the evolution of its thought. So, myths have a close relation with the evolution of the society. The primitive and ancient myths describe the values, traditions and beliefs of a particular society. That is why it integrates the present with the past values and beliefs. It is the myth that mold the social life, morality and culture of people through its dynamic force. Religion is one of the major sources of myths, though all myths have not originated from religion. For example, a majority of the Indian myths are associated with the nature, plant, animals or places. Myths have their own peculiarities and characters. Numeral myths are mostly related with the activities of the mundane life. The primitive customs and beliefs of a society are preserved in the myths which, in turn, transmit these to society at a later stage. Myths are inseparably connected with the society and reflect the character of a society in the various stages of its development. A society very often is mirrored in its myths. The world of myths is a very expansive one and includes almost every aspect of a man’s social life. Though myths are apparently symbols of the past, they have a remarkable significance for the present as well as future. Finally, the myths are the basic foundations of the living culture of any society. As an ingredient of organizational culture, myths are usually based on embellished accounts of events in an organization’s history, such as the overcoming of obstacles, major crisis or disasters and embarrassing or amusing incidents. Myths, within an organization, will have a significance only when the organizational members would ascribe the same meaning to a particular myth,

Organizational Culture in India

else it can have a galvanizing effect on morale and group cohesion. If people interpret the same myth differently, it will lose its importance resulting into a great deal of confusion or misunderstanding. While myths are not necessarily the accurate narratives of events, they grip individual’s attention and recognition if the issue involved is associated with some important dimensions of organizational life. Thus, the preferred types of myths within an organization should reveal some of the underlying emotional factors that easily attract attention. In some cases, myths degenerate into self deception by clouding judgments and thoughts, leading to delusions of invulnerability and grander. Some organizations have failed because of the inability of their members to detach themselves from such myths. Schwartz (1988), for example, has argued that some major failures, such as the disaster of the American space shuttle Challenger occurred when mythologies and fantasies get in the way of technical and scientific calculations (Schwartz, 1988, Gabriel 1991). To conclude, managerial work can be viewed as of managing myths, symbols and labels because managers are supposed to assume the appropriate roles for developing and enhancing the image of the organization. Organizations with strong cultures must have a series of well established rites, ceremonies, myths and stories to assure the adoption of changes as well as to percolate the prevailing culture to the next generation of employees and managers. Managers must learn how to attend and assess not only the technical consequences of any activity or programme but also the possible ceremonial or expressive consequences (Trice & Beyer 1984).

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