ARGOS

TO EXPLORE
THE “CULTURE” OF
AN ASSOCIATION

MA

NAGEMENT

World Organization
of the Scout Movement
Organisation Mondiale
du Mouvement Scout

S

STRATEGY
THIS DOCUMENT IS A
PART OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STRATEGY

© 1996, World Scout Bureau.
Reprinted 1998. Revised 2000.
Reproduction is authorized to national
Scout associations which are members
of the World Organization of the Scout
Movement. Others should request
permission from publishers.
World Scout Bureau
P.O. Box 241,
1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland
worldbureau@world.scout.org
http://www.scout.org

WARNING

In this booklet, you will find allegorical references to mythology
and ancient civilisations. Many people from Western cultures
would be familiar with these references. However, even if you
know nothing about these particular ancient civilisations or the
mythology surrounding them, it is the meaning underlying the
references that is important.
The references have been used to describe models of cultures.
The characteristics of each model - related to such concepts as
power, success, the place of the individual in society, or the way
in which society is organised - are of a universal nature. You are,
therefore, likely to find the same characteristics in the mythology
of your own culture. The references to model cultures would
simply be known by other names.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword
1. General introduction and questionnaire
2. Four model cultures: explanation of the chart
3. An allegorical illustration
4. Description of the model cultures
5. Main features of each model culture
6. Key words
7. Characteristics of each model culture.

FOREWORD

Improving the management of Scout associations and
developing the managerial capabilities of their leaders has been
one of the strategic priorities of WOSM for several years.
The World Scout Bureau’s Training Service* produced resource
material, such as “Management Info” and the “Management
Handbook”, to support associations in this area.
However, adapting management tools from the business world
to Scouting has often proved ineffective. In many cases, these
tools have not been used and the management practices they
presented have not been adopted by Scout associations.
It seems likely that the reason why these tools have been
rejected is probably cultural. For a new approach to be
accepted, it must be consistent with the values, language,
traditions and other elements which, together, form what we
have called an “association’s culture”- an analogy of the concept of “corporate culture”.
If this assumption is correct, it is essential to become aware of
the various elements that constitute an association’s culture.
One way of supporting associations in this area is to offer a
tool that will help you to understand the culture in which you
operate. Thus, when changes need to be introduced, you
should be in a better position to identify the conditions and
constraints that need to be considered and sorted out - and so
be more effective.

* This service became the Adult Resources Service in 1993.
ARGOS: To Explore the “Culture” of an Association - Page 1

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1. GENERAL
INTRODUCTION
AND
QUESTIONNAIRE

Throughout the world since time immemorial, human beings
have had to find ways of dealing with their relationship to the
world. They have had to solve immediate problems in order to
survive (e.g. finding food, shelter, etc.). They have also tried to
find answers to questions about the world, the universe, where
they came from and where they were going.
The totality of the means by which human beings manage their
relationship to the world - both the immediate world and the
more distant one - constitutes a culture.
Before examining the concept of the culture of an association,
let us first look briefly at people’s relationship to the world in
general. This relationship functions at several different levels in
a structured and coherent way, but each level has its own set of
characteristics.
The foundation level is a universal level. This level involves a
coherent set of characteristics which is specific to human
beings and common to everyone: physiological characteristics,
laughter, language, the ability to reflect and foresee outcomes
and consequences, the ability to consciously influence the
future and the nature of things, etc.
At the top is an individual level which consists of all the
personal characteristics that form the personality. The
personality is influenced by other levels, but it also comprises
unique traits which are only present in a particular person.
Between the two is a collective level. This is where culture per
se is to be found with a set of rituals, norms, beliefs, values,
etc., which all members of a given human group have in
common, and which makes individuals members of a given
group. If one were to reject these norms and beliefs, etc., in
totality or in part, it is likely that one would become excluded
from the group or marginalised.
This collective level, however, is far from homogeneous and
may be sub-divided ad infinitum into sub-cultures. One may
speak of an African or Asian culture and, within each of them,
of a Northern, Southern or Western culture, etc., and also of
specific ethnic or tribal cultures. In addition to these “natural”
sub-cultures, one could include many others such as, for
example, those of rural people or city dwellers, or those of
farmers and industrialists. Further, due to a certain crosspenetration of different groups, a West African farmer will differ
from a businessman from the same area, even though they both
share a number of common cultural traits.
Since what we are looking at is how human beings try to
manage their relationship to the world on the basis of a set of
commonly accepted, shared rules and assumptions within a

ARGOS: To Explore the “Culture” of an Association - Page 3

given group, it should therefore be possible to observe these
characteristics.
The reason for doing so is that these characteristics will
considerably influence individual and group behaviour and the
effective management of people’s relationship to the world.
Now let us look at how this concept applies to Scouting. As we
know, Scouting started as an idea formulated at a given time
and in a given place - but which is assumed to be universal in
nature. Since then, totally different kinds of “Scouting” have
emerged with specific characteristics that go far beyond the
surface of things and which have a profound effect on what
people experience, how they behave, and the norms they refer
to.
One could say that what we call “association culture” is at the
meeting point of four trends:
1.
2.
3.
4.

A national culture
Scouting
A philosophical or religious culture
The creation and history of the association

This is why, when we look closely, we could argue that there is
not one Scouting but several “Scoutings”! Scouts de France, for
example, has very little in common with the Boy Scouts of the
Philippines. This does not mean that one is better than the
other or that one is wrong and the other right. However, one
may wonder what has happened to the “original values” of the
Movement as a result of its continuous expansion, the passing
of time, and of the process of becoming indigenous to other
cultures. Obviously cultures have not been “Scoutified”, it is
Scouting that has become acculturated.
It should also be noted that the general evolution is not
towards uniformisation (i.e. a sort of world culture) but towards
increased diversification.
If the Movement accepts the fact that association cultures exist
and that they influence the evolution, progress, management,
recruitment strategies, etc., of associations, we will have moved
one step towards greater efficiency. If, in addition, a tool can
be produced to understand the main characteristics of those
cultures better, associations will have the means to influence
their future in a conscious way, as opposed to leaving it up to
chance. It may be worth trying!
The tool on the following pages has been designed to help you
to identify the main characteristics of your association’s culture
and to draw some conclusions as to what change can be
accepted and how it should be presented and introduced in
order to be successful.
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Do not forget:
There is no good or bad answer and there is no bad or good
culture. The purpose of the tool is simply to help you to
become more conscious of the culture in which you operate.
This tool will not help you to “change the culture”, but it
should help you to find approaches to problems that are acceptable within the existing culture. Change will only take place in
the long term. This is because any change in the components
of a given culture will only take place as a result of a long
process of maturation and evolution, usually triggered by
external influences.
On the following pages you will find a series of statements.
Each statement can be completed in one of four different ways.
Each option relates to a different cultural trend. You should
read each of the statements and each of the options that could
complete the statement.
For each option of each statement, you should distribute a
score of 1, 2, 3, or 4. A “4” in the box next to an option means
that you think that that option corresponds the most to how
things are done in your association. A “1” means that you think
that a particular option corresponds the least. You cannot
attribute the same score (e.g. two scores rated “4”) to different
options in the same statement, even if you feel that more than
one of the completed statements apply equally to your association.
Try the following example before turning to the questionnaire
itself:

In our Association new ideas
❏ come from the top
❏ need to be validated by the various levels in the structure
❏ must have a positive impact on the effectiveness of an
association
Note: In the printed
version of this document,
the questionnaire pages
which follow are of
different widths to help
you to count the scores
across the pages. In the
electronic version, you
may wish to fold back
these pages along the
dotted line while you
complete the questionnaire.

❏ are easily accessible to all and each individual is free to use
them.

For each of these options you should have marked a score
from 1 to 4.

And now, turn to the questionnaire itself.
What kind of association are you part of ?

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1. The position people may be offered in the hierarchy depends primarily

on their present position - whether close to, or far away from - the position to be filled .................................

( )


on their age and experience ..................................................................................................................
on their personal qualities - irrespective of their age, experience in the Movement or past
history in the association........................................................................................................................

( )

on their competencies regarding the job to be done ..................................................................................

( )

( )

2. Promotions are usually based on

length of service in the association..........................................................................................................

( )

the person’s potential for further development in the new position ............................................................

( )

demonstrated competence ....................................................................................................................

( )

demonstrated effectiveness in present and past positions ..........................................................................

( )

3. When objectives are being set for a given period

everyone has an opportunity to express ideas and influence objectives and decisions ...................................

( )


all ideas and opinions are studied carefully before making important decisions or setting objectives.................
all ideas can be expressed, but must go through the various levels of the hierarchy and established formal
channels of communication ....................................................................................................................

( )
( )

the organisation expects everyone to adhere to objectives defined at the top ...............................................

( )

4. When the association adopts a position on a particular matter
• members use their skills to support the position in a practical way, provided it fits into the
project on which they are working...........................................................................................................

( )



everyone interprets and promotes it at their own level. The entire structure is mobilised ................................
personal opinions that contradict the official position are not accepted, and they should not be
expressed in public ...............................................................................................................................
free expression of all is encouraged and individual freedom is respected. Conflicts of opinion
remain an exception since the position of the association usually reflects a broad consensus ..........................

5. In our association, all members feel that
• they are part of a united family in which authority is exercised to ensure the well-being and
security of all .......................................................................................................................................
• they are working with others towards achieving an important goal. They really feel part of a team in
which everyone is motivated to help reach the goal .................................................................................
• they are one element of the bigger whole - an important part of an effective and proven
system in which everyone knows what they have to do ...........................................................................
• they are personally committed to an ideal. They are fully but freely involved in their work - and feel that it
contributes to their personal growth .......................................................................................................
6. In the day-to-day operation
• members strive to achieve their objectives individually or with others. Teams or other
groupings are created or dismantled according to the objectives to be met ...................................................
• the Mission comes first. All members are mobilised to achieve it. Structures and customs are valid in so far
as they contribute to achieving the Mission. Everything is subject to change and re-definition..........................
• the personalities of those who founded the association still have a strong influence on the way it is today.
History has not been lost and traditions are kept .....................................................................................
• policies and rules of organisation are very important. They cover every detail and should be followed literally.
There is no exception to the rule ............................................................................................................

( )
( )
( )

( )
( )
( )
( )

( )
( )
( )
( )

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7. Concerning communication and the circulation of information


the communication flow is well established, from top to bottom and the other way round, from one level to the next ............
information collected at local level may influence the decisions made at the top. Instructions transmitted
from the top must be followed .....................................................................................................................................

( )

communication is possible in all directions and between all members, as needed ...............................................................
communication is informal and can take place through any channel - provided it is effective. It is essentially about
technical matters and is action-oriented..........................................................................................................................

( )

( )

( )

8 The progress and continued development of the association depends on


the loyalty of every member towards the association and the full implementation of instructions given from the top ...............
the personal progress of individual members and their own sense of self-fulfilment in what they are doing. The future of
the whole association depends on this ..........................................................................................................................

( )

the skills of individual members and their ability to find and carry out new solutions to new problems ..................................
the effective functioning of a structure in which all members carefully do their part. Each person needs to stay within
their particular sphere of activity and must avoid doing anything that another person considers his/her responsibility ..............

( )

( )

( )

9. When a problem arises

everyone tries to find a solution. ‘Trial and error’ is accepted and experimenting with new ways is always good ....................

( )


each person has to find their own practical solution quickly and must take appropriate action without wasting time ................
the right solution must be in the rules, in the structure or in the files. It is therefore essential to start
looking for it immediately ...........................................................................................................................................
those at the top will find a solution because they are in charge of maintaining the integrity of the association and
ensuring the well-being of its members. It is essential to ask for their views quickly, before taking any action ........................

( )

10. If a conflict arises
• the only serious conflicts are those which threaten the successful completion of a project. These should be sorted out
quickly - even if it means moving people to different jobs when their level of competence corresponds to the needs ...............
• it should be resolved in a rational way. There is no room for emotions - they only impair the smooth operation
of the association ......................................................................................................................................................

authority must put an end to it since conflict can only have a negative effect on the association and its public image ..........
separation from the association is totally acceptable. Keeping people in the association at the cost of losing what is
considered as essential would be wrong .......................................................................................................................

11. Both from the perspective of its philosophy and its approach, the association considers that
• every member involved in the association’s activities (defined by its leaders) is important and should be guided
by clear instructions, transmitted through all the levels of hierarchy ...................................................................................
• its main purpose is to accomplish a task to which all members are committed. One person’s success is everyone’s success,
one person’s failure is everyone’s failure ........................................................................................................................
• both the task and how it is implemented are important. Any action should conform to rules and follow established
procedures ...............................................................................................................................................................
• everything it does is directed towards a community of people in which every individual is unique in his/her characteristics
and aspirations, and everyone has equal rights .............................................................................................................
12. Concerning the objectives set and how they will be implemented
• Each person is free to choose the appropriate means and to organise themselves as they wish. Job descriptions are not
important, the main thing is to reach the goal ...............................................................................................................
• People are responsible and work on their own. However, they pool their resources and share their experience
with others ................................................................................................................................................................
• Each person has the responsibility of achieving results and is accountable for the procedures followed in order to achieve
those results. Established rules must be followed ...........................................................................................................
• People must have the necessary formal qualifications for the job so that they can perform adequately and effectively
within the limits set by their job description ...................................................................................................................

( )
( )

( )
( )
( )
( )

( )
( )
( )
( )

( )
( )
( )
( )

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13. In order to progress in the association and reach major positions, a person should


go from one step to the next, conscientiously fulfilling each function that has been entrusted to him/her ..................................................
show his/her personal commitment to the ideals of the association and conform one’s day-to-day behaviour to these ideals.
Since authority comes from the top, it is essential that members should conform to the model it wishes to promote.....................................
show idealism, a sense of Mission, total commitment, and always be available .................................................................................
demonstrate effectiveness in completing a task, take initiative without waiting for instructions and make the most of the time available
without being held back by details or anything that is not action-oriented ...............................................................................................

( )
( )
( )
( )

14. Relationships
• are formal. There is no written rule as to who may approach whom but, due to tradition, rank and hierarchy are very important. So is the
power a person has over others ........................................................................................................................................................
• are informal. All members are seen as equals and are involved in the same task. Doors are always open and anyone can have access to
anyone else at any time ..................................................................................................................................................................
• are simple. When a person needs other people he/she will contact them for a specific purpose and for a given period of time, without
worrying about the rank they may have in the organisation or what will happen to the relationship in the future ......................................

( )

are essentially functional and task-related, as presented by the rules of the association ...........................................................................

( )

15. At local level and in the day-to-day operation
• each local group has a lot of autonomy. If it adopts the ideals of the Movement, it will have to find the best possible means of
implementing them for itself .............................................................................................................................................................
• each group has its own goals. The goals of each group are part of the collective goals of the association. Local success is part of the
success of the whole. Priority must be given to carrying out the local goals and everything else is secondary ..............................................

( )


each group is linked to other groups through structures, teams, leaders. The group knows exactly what has to be done and how ...............
every group belongs to the association and has to keep to the norms, to promote its ideals and activities locally. If a group deviates from
the official line it excludes itself from the “family” ..............................................................................................................................

16. In terms of its educational proposal
• the association is based on a set of values which it proposes to young people as an ideal for life. Amongst those values, effectiveness,
initiative, performance, commitment to achieving results and developing skills are considered very important .............................................
• the association is based on a set of values which should be inculcated in young people. Amongst those values, order, discipline, respect for
rules and established norms are considered very important ..................................................................................................................
• the association is based on a set of values which should be inculcated in young people. Amongst those values, keeping one’s word,
respect for authority, obedience and attending to others first are considered very important ......................................................................
• the association is based on a set of values which it symbolises for young people. Amongst those values, freedom, initiative, respect
for self and others, trust and acceptance of differences are considered very important .............................................................................

( )
( )

( )
( )
( )

( )
( )
( )
( )

17. In the activities offered to its members, the association emphasises

task allocation, personal responsibility and the role of the leader in setting an example and stimulating others ...........................................

( )

developing skills, based on the idea that practical skills are necessary for a person to take an active part in society ....................................

( )

the systematic division of labour and responsibilities, the allocation of roles according to the level of training of each person .........................

( )

personal development opportunities, as the progress of the whole group depends on the progress of each individual member .....................

( )

18. In the management system of the association
• functions are not delegated by an “authority”. They result from a need and are allocated according to the skills and aspirations
of the people concerned ..................................................................................................................................................................
• there is no job description. Jobs may change according to the association’s priorities (incorporated into specific projects)
and each person’s competencies .......................................................................................................................................................
• every member has a specific place in the system - close to the centre of power or far away from it - and applies the guidelines he/she
has been given at his/her own level .................................................................................................................................................
• each member has a specific place on the organisation chart and works according to a job description. Subordination is rational, and is
needed in order to ensure proper coordination ....................................................................................................................................

( )
( )
( )
( )

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WHAT CULTURE?
1. For each line across pages 5, 6 and 7, add the scores you allocated to each statement option (e.g. the
score for the first option of Question 1 (p. 5), the score for the first option of Question 7 (p. 6) and the
score for the first option of Question 13 (p.7) ), and enter the total in the corresponding space (A to X)
in the right-hand side column.

A (

)

B (

)

C (

)

D (

)

E (

)

F (

)

G (

)

H (

)

I

(

)

J (

)

K (

)

L (

)

M (

)

N (

)

O (

)

P (

)

Q (

)

R (

)

S (

)

T (

)

U (

)

V (

)

W (

)

X (

)

2. Enter the totals from boxes A to X in the corresponding segment of the disc below.

A

X

B

W

C

V

D

U

E
T
F
S
G
R
H
Q
I
P
J

O
K

N
M

L

3. Add all the totals from the segments of the same design (6 of each) and enter the final score in the corresponding
box below.

S

R

A

P
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4. Enter the final scores in the chart below according to the design code. Use the scale on the diagonal axes to mark the score for each
design code. By drawing a line from one mark to another, you will obtain a shape that you could colour in. This shape will give you
a visual image of how you see the cultural tendency in your association.

E

RO
ME

PO

ER

ST

C

R
TU

HIERARCHY

W

RU

TA
R
A
SP

TS

TASK

PERSON P
A
C

IP

UL

RT
I
AT

ION

EQUALTY

R
E
S

PH
OE
NI
CIA

NS
E
H
AT

5. Consult the notes on the following pages.

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2. FOUR MODEL
CULTURES: AN
EXPLANATION OF
THE CHART

The chart is designed around two main axes:

Equality - hierarchy

Person - task

The equality-hierarchy axis concerns “hierarchical distance”. A
visual image to illustrate this concept is a pyramid. The height
(and shape) of the pyramid represents the level of importance
attached to the concept of hierarchy, the place of each person
in the hierarchy and the status attached to each hierarchical
level.
The person-task axis concerns the relative importance of
“being” (person) as opposed to “doing” (task). It also relates to
the concept of how much attention is paid to people as
individuals, the place in the system that others accord the
person, as well as to the goals of the organisation and the
means by which they will be reached.
If we combine these two axes and consider their main
characteristics, we can establish four different types of culture:
1. ROME
The combination hierarchy/person indicates an inclination
towards power.
2. SPARTA
The combination hierarchy/task indicates an inclination
towards structures.
3. PHOENICIA
The combination equality/task indicates an inclination
towards results.
4. ATHENS
The combination equality/person indicates an inclination
towards participation.
Of course, the names used to represent these types of culture,
i.e. Rome, Sparta, Phoenicia and Athens, are allegorical. In the
pages that follow you will find a brief description of the main
characteristics of these four models of ancient cultures. Again,
the models are allegories. While the models correspond in
general terms to the history of these cultures, not all of the
details will be historically accurate. This does not matter. The
purpose is to provide a mental image - or a series of images that can be remembered and will help visualise the models
proposed. You will then find lists of key words or phrases as
well as tables to help you to see the main characteristics and
consequences of your association’s culture more clearly.

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3. AN ALLEGORICAL
REPRESENTATION

ROME
The Roman Empire - a unique symbol of unity, splendour and
power. The Emperor - an emblematic figure - is the centre of
power and holds the destiny of all in his hands. Through him,
customs and traditions govern a society based on worship, a
sense of duty to the city and commitment to a community in
which each member has a place. There is little tolerance for
any citizen - freed man or slave - who rebels or refuses to
submit to the established order. However, for the citizen who
accepts submission, “the shoulder is strong and the burden is
light”. This submission ensures the cohesion and strength of the
whole. In return for their submission, everyone in the Empire
enjoys the Roman Peace that has put an end to their quarrels,
guarantees their well-being and gives them protection against
any aggression from outside. Beyond the borders of the Empire
lurk the barbarians and all the dangers against which one needs
to protect and defend oneself. Let it never be said that “the
barbarian is in Rome!”

SPARTA
Society is organised and structured in order to meet the needs
of this martial city. A hierarchical society with its class of
“equals” (i.e. equal amongst themselves) and who have the
power; its “ilotes” (those who carry out orders and ensure the
status and wealth of the first group); and its “perteques” spread
across the mountains. This system ensures the delegation of
power to a small number of people, the transmission of orders
through an effective structure and the perpetuation of the
system through the selection of the fittest. Authority is present
everywhere, watching over public life, the education of young
people and the behaviour of all citizens. Bravery, endurance
and discipline are the essential virtues through which the
system (considered perfect), will last for ever. If any of these
virtues is questioned, the entire structure will be shaken, the
established order will collapse and the city will be ruined.

ARGOS: To Explore the “Culture” of an Association - Page 19

PHOENICIA
A people of active and daring merchants who go beyond the
limits of the known world. They are never frightened to venture beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. They sail to collect tin from
the Spanish mines, and murices (a shell-fish) from the coasts of
Africa to produce Tyrian purple dye. They export timber,
glassware and even skilled manpower. They are the first to
become involved in huge projects abroad: amongst other
things, they built the Temple of Jerusalem. They have
established colonies in Cyprus, in Crete and as far away as
Spain and Africa. It is even thought that they invented the
alphabet which was later passed on to the Greeks. They are
prosperous not only through their success in commercial trading, but also because they are open to outside influences especially those that can enrich their city-states. Each city-state
has its own king and gods but was united by a common civilisation.

ATHENS
At the time of Pericles, Athens was at the zenith of its glory.
After a series of conflicts and many changes it now sails on
quiet waters, but it can rise at any time to swallow up
everything. Thanks to its economic prosperity and cultural
influence, Athens has been the cradle of ancient civilisation.
With its democratic institutions, it has created the unequalled
model of a city run by all citizens on the principles of political
and civic virtue. The freedom that the system permits has
generated a boom in high-level thinkers. This is reflected in the
richness of philosophy and science (astronomy and
mathematics in particular), literature, history and theatre. The
architecture illustrates Athens’ greatness, and is a show-case of
the power of creativity and of the daring and know-how of its
architects.

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4. DESCRIPTION OF
MODEL CULTURES

ROME
Collectivist and hierarchical. The culture is strongly oriented
towards power and centralisation. Hierarchical distance is high
with a few people at the top and many more at the bottom of
the pyramid. Hierarchy is perceived as being in the nature of
things. Those at the top make decisions and enjoy some
independence. People at other levels implement decisions
within a framework set by the level above them. The system
can be very effective since very clear directions are easily
transmitted and the system itself is not questioned. Power has
always existed and it can only be exercised by a few people
(who thus deserve some privileges that others will not have).
Amongst these privileges is the status that comes with the
position. Mainly as a result of the difference in status, those in
power are not easily accessible. They must be seen as different
from others in order to retain their power. Considered to be
emblematic figures, they set (or maintain) the norms and
references and make decisions for the good of the community.
All members are considered - and consider themselves to be part of the same “family”. At the head of the “family” is a fatherfigure who provides security and who is both strict and
benevolent. Relationships between people are close, and the
group easily exercises moral and manipulative pressure on its
members. The group’s norms and rules are important and must
be respected. If a person rejects them or acts in an
individualistic way, he or she is likely to be rejected or
marginalised by the others. It is difficult to transgress the
established norms in this culture as it offers each person a
strong sense of belonging and a clear identity. People get
satisfaction and a feeling of security from being part of the
group and adhering to its values. The established order of
things is natural and is not questioned. Authority is always
present in a diffuse form. Power is political - it is transmitted by
those already in power and does not depend on the task that a
person performs.
Those who have been brought up in the system usually feel
comfortable in it. For those who do not, the only alternatives
are to try to take power by force or by manipulation or to leave
and join another organisation with a different culture, i.e. one
closer to their aspirations.

ARGOS: To Explore the “Culture” of an Association - Page 21

SPARTA
Hierarchical and task oriented, this culture emphasises structures and systems. A person’s status depends on his or her place
in the hierarchy and this place is attached to a specific function.
Functions are distributed according to the positions to be filled,
as they appear on the organisation chart. Formal qualifications
for all functions are required, and these are stated in the
regulations. The power that any person may have, the authority
that any person may exercise on others and that person’s social
status is related to the function. Everyone has a place in the
structure of the group (or community), knows exactly what he/
she has to do and how it should be done (it is all explained in
the rules and regulations). People act within the rules and the
framework expected of each function. Subordination to other
people is rational in nature, to ensure effectiveness and coordination. Total loyalty to the system is expected from all.
Conformity is the rule and one of the keys to success. Conflicts
must be avoided - because they are irrational. The way in
which rules are established avoids conflict or ensures that they
can be resolved very quickly. What people do is important (the
culture is task oriented), but the way in which things are done
i.e. according to established rules, is even more important. The
rigidity of the framework provides security and comfort to
those who need a clear framework, set of rules and instructions. It is unbearable for those who need space to express
their specificity, to formulate and develop their ideas.

PHOENICIA
Basically egalitarian and task-oriented. All members are equal
and start with the same potential. Success depends on personal
effort. There is a goal to be reached, a task to be performed
and everyone works to the best of their abilities and resources,
in their own way.
Producing results is essential and people are judged on their
success and failure. The culture is heaven for those determined
to do things, for winners who invest all they have in achieving
a task and spare no time or effort. Status and social recognition
will come with accomplishments, demonstrated competence
and effectiveness in the job. Formality, theories, rules and age
are irrelevant. Daring and, especially, success are the main
things.
The culture is primarily pragmatic and result-oriented. People
who share that culture are convinced of the quality of what
they have to offer - their product, their ideas, their project, etc.
- and do all they can to convince others, to “sell” their product.
Everyone is strongly motivated to succeed in implementing his/
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her objectives, getting organised, managing time and resources
in the best possible way, working alone or with others to
achieve the task.
The only value of the structure is in its usefulness in supporting
individuals in the achievements of their task. It is not
considered as permanent and must be modified whenever
necessary, which means whenever it is likely to slow progress
or prevent initiatives.

ATHENS
Essentially egalitarian and person-oriented, devoted to ensuring
the progress and full development of the individual. The quality
of a group depends on the quality of its individual members
and the progress of the group depends on the progress of
individuals. People complement each other and the strengths of
some compensate for the weaknesses of others. Individual
qualities are combined to benefit the group as a whole.
The group respects the specificity of each person and his or her
freedom of expression. Differences are accepted and no one is
expected to conform to a preset, ideal model. Everyone has a
right to participate in the management of the community.
Whenever necessary, networks are established through which
individual resources can be pooled together.
The culture is idealistic and advocates a strong personal
commitment to its values. A sense of mission is very strong and
the community counts on the voluntary commitment of each
person to help make its endeavours successful. The ultimate
goal (the ideal) is far away and can never be achieved in full.
There will always be room for more initiative, new ideas and
creativity even though the fruit of such efforts will not succeed
at all times. The community - like the individual members may operate on a trial and error basis, provided that they
remain flexibile, realise when they make mistakes and move
away from them. Anything can be subject to redefinition at any
time. People get satisfaction from feeling that they are
contributing to a great cause of their own free will. This, in
return, provides recognition, enrichment and opportunities for
personal development.

ARGOS: To Explore the “Culture” of an Association - Page 23

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5. MAIN FEATURES OF
EACH MODEL
CULTURE

ROME
• Collectivist and hierarchical
• Father figure sets standards and makes decisions
• Father knows best, for the good of others
• Intimacy, family-type relationships
• Moral pressure, manipulative
• Experience, wisdom and status come with age
• Being part of the group provides security (danger is outside)
• Strong sense of belonging
• Pre-set values transmitted from generation to generation
• Satisfaction in being a member
• Centralisation = one (final) decision-making centre
• Members are expected to give full commitment
• Sanction is a loss of affection/rejection
• Many things are taken for granted (not questioned)
• Authority is diffuse but present everyhwere
• Power is political, not related to task
• Power and differential status are natural
• Concern for the security and well-being of members
• Importance of growing through the system

ARGOS: To Explore the “Culture” of an Association - Page 25

SPARTA
• Hierarchical and task-oriented
• Bureaucratic division of labour
• Prescribed roles and functions
• Importance of structure versus function
• Decision-making power is structural
• Long distance along hierarchy
• Relationships are formal and specific
• Relations are function-related
• Status is ascribed to role
• Importance of formal/professional qualifications
• Importance of rules
• Act by the book
• Change needs a change of rules/structure, etc.
• No intrusion of personal bias
• Subordination is rational and needed for coordination
• Organisation chart/job descriptions, etc.
• “Management by P.O.R.”
• Learning = accumulating skills
• Loyalty to system
• Conformism
• Reliability and accountability
• Rigidity
• Conflicts are irrational

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PHOENICIA
• Egalitarian
• Impersonal or task-oriented
• Ends are more important than means
• Teamwork, group effort
• No fixed job - need to do whatever is necessary to complete
the task
• Time is important
• Effective use of time essential
• Get on with the task
• Pragmatism
• Practical, not theoretical
• Problem-centred
• Importance of demonstrated competence
• Internal motivation (task achievement)
• Importance of performance, results
• Achieving objectives
• Management by objectives
• People get together to achieve objectives

ARGOS: To Explore the “Culture” of an Association - Page 27

ATHENS
• Egalitarian
• Person-centred
• Progress of group results from individual progress
• Organisation/group is secondary to fulfilment of individuals
• Organisation supports individuals, values self-expression,
stimulates creativity
• Little or no structure
• Individuals complement each other
• Organisational loyalty comes second to freedom and selfexpression
• People work on their own but share resources, compare
experiences
• Minimum hierarchy
• Spontaneous networking
• Intense emotional commitment towards changing the world,
idealism
• Sense of mission
• Internal value driven
• Anything is open to redefinition
• Leadership is achieved (not ascribed)
• Conflicts lead to split or trying another alternatives
• Trial and error is accepted

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6. KEY WORDS
ROME

SPARTA

PHOENICIA

ATHENS

Power

Structure

Results

Person

Hierarchy

Task

Equality

Equality

Person

Organisation chart

Task

Initiative

Experience

System

Competence

Tradition

Formalism

Rules

Conformism

Values

Status

Resonsibility

Expression

Creativity

Rigidity

Order

Risk

Criticism

Security

Job description

Objectives

Ideal

Family

Integration

Projects

Doubt

Position

Collectivity

Trial/error

Committment

Certainty

Leader

Contribution

Community

Adherence

Training

Team

Peers

Evaluation

Participation

Father
Tradition
Centralisation

ARGOS: To Explore the “Culture” of an Association - Page 29

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7. CHARACTERISTICS OF EACH MODEL CULTURE
PARTICIPATION

EQUALITY

RESULTS

TASK

STRUCTURE

HIERARCHY

Autocratic. Strong and centralised.
Paternalistic in the interest of all.
Moral pressure on individuals.
Political in nature, not related to
task. Considered natural, no longer
questioned.

Expected to be totally committed to Limited to consultation that may Those who have power also have Maintaining the cohesion of the or- The organisation must be strong, Pyramid-shaped, rigid and central- High hierarchical distance.
the ideals and values of the organi- influence the leader when he/she privileges.
ganisation is most important.
cohesive, recognised by others and ised. Facilitates the distribution of
sation. Belonging to the group pro- makes the decisions.
consistent with its goals and ideals. strength and power.
vides satisfaction. Need to conform
and obey orders.

Aristocratic. As strong as provided
for in the regulations. Not to be questioned. Function-related, linked to
formal qualifications. Based on rational elements to ensure proper
functioning of the system.

Expected to follow rules in imple- Within the limitations of the rules The rules and regulations apply Results are less important than the
way in which they have been
menting tasks. No personal initia- and regulations. Formal democracy equally to all members.
achieved.
tive, acts as instructed within the is more important that its contents.
framework of established rules and
according to place in hierarchy. Identified in terms of function.

Task is important. It must be carried out in accordance with the established rules. Everyone in his/her
own place contributes to the whole.

Pyramid-shaped, rigid and central- High hierarchical distance.
ised. A system to “manage” the association. Necessary to keep the organisation together. Everyone
knows what has to be done.

Technocratic. Comes from demonstrated competence. Exercised in relation to tasks and will pass from
one person to the next depending
on the task at hand.

Identified by knowledge and competence in fulfilling tasks. Must perform effectively in achieving objectives. Free to choose appropriate
means to obtain results. Works with
others as appropriate.

Setting objectives. Free to work with Equal opportunities for those with Everyone must be effective and succeed in the task he/she has acceptothers to achieve results. Demon- equal competence.
strated competence is a condition
ed to carry out.
for participation.

Status comes with successful implementation of task. A job to be done
is the justification for a function.
Each individual is recruited for a specific task.

Very little structure. Networks are Low hierarchical distance.
formed and disappear according to
needs or to complete a set of objectives.

Democratic. Shared by all those who
participate in the life of the community. Exercised through ballot, sometimes by delegation.

Feels in charge of a mission that
will also bring self-fulfilment. Guided by internalised set of values.
Directly involved in running the organisation. Personal progress is a
condition for collective growth.

Very broad spectrum. Definition of Equal opportunities for all, whatev- Self-fulfilment and personal growth Self-fulfilment is the essential task
aims, objectives and means. Every- er their individual characteristics may come first, they determine the to be pursued... One must grow first.
body is involved in the operation of be.
progress of the whole group.
the organisation. Direct democracy.

ATHENS

PHOENICIA

ROME

PERSON

SPARTA

POWER

Little or no structure. The individual Minimal hierarchy.
is more important than the structure. Networks and spontaneous association are customary.

ROME
SPARTA
PHOENICIA
ATHENS

EDUCATIONAL GOAL

ADULT-YOUTH
RELATIONSHIP

ATTITUDE TO CHANGE

YOUTH PROGRAMME

ADULT RECRUITMENT

LEADERSHIP
DEVELOPMENT

ATTITUDE TOWARDS
VALUES

MOBILITY OF LEADERS

An ideal to strive for. Adherence to
well-established principles. Sense of
hierarchy in all aspects of life. Sense
of service to others and responsibility towards them.

Well-meaning authority which provides security and a positive direction. Importance of a set model.
The leader sets the norms to which
others must conform.

Respect for established systems and
tradition are essential. Any change
needs to be considered with suspicion. Positive change can only come
from a decision made at the top.

Traditional activities, ceremonies and
formal activities are important. Activities are essentially based on competition. Large meetings and gatherings are essential as opportunities
for the “family” to get together,
united around its leader.

Preferably within the organisation:
leaders must have gone through all
the steps. Attitude towards the ideals and ultimate goal will be an essential criterion for selection. Unrestricted adherence to the system is
required. Probation period before
confirmation of appointment.

Usually centralised to ensure cohesiveness of the whole system and
conformity to established principles.
Trainers are “agents” of a central
authority and have the responsibility of getting people to adhere to
orientations and decisions.

Traditional values are proven and
cannot be questioned. They are
transmitted from generation to generation, based on the conviction of
elders and on the basis of the living
example they provide.

Mobility of leaders is hierarchical,
normally upwards. Lateral moves
are “waiting positions” and downward moves are sanctions.

Success in one’s endeavours, high
level of achievement. Keeping
norms and following established
patterns. A person who can be trusted. Ensuring personal progress in
society through acquiring recognised
qualifications.

Importance of challenge and fair competition. The relationship is based on
trust and confidence. Others must live
up to the trust and confidence they
are given. Many opportunities to gain
qualifications.

Change can only be accepted when
the norms have been changed.
When rules and norms are amended, change becomes a necessity to
conform to the new rule. Change
can only come after a long and
careful consideration of all factors
involved.

The framework is set by the organisation. Competition and challenges are important to prove oneself.
The progressive scheme and system
of recognition of skills and competencies (tests and badges) are an
essential component of the programme.

According to clearly set norms of
selection and preferably within the
organisation. Open to people who
can be trusted as respectful of the
system and its ways of operation.
Recruitment will be on theoretical
criteria and evidence of formal qualifications.

Aims at producing people who can
work effectively within the system.
Transmission of norms and rules
within which action will take place.
Formal recognition of qualifications
is essential, one must have gone
through an imposed training cycle.

Order and tradition are essential
values to be transmitted. They will
ensure harmony and peace for the
future. Loyalty to the system and
personal qualification are the two
conditions on which trust and confidence are given to an individual.

Mobility from lower steps upwards according to qualifications
and the requirements of the system. Competition is important.
Promotion is a reward.

Initiative and flexibility in problem
solving. Developing an ability to
cooperate with others. A duty to
achieve. Ability to take charge of
oneself and act out of internal motivation.

Mutual agreement on the set goal.
The relationship is established and
develops progressively around the
means to achieve this goal. Develops motivation and initiative that will
provide the means to be successful.

Any change that is likely to make
the system more effective is welcome. The purpose of change is to
improve performance and obtain
better results.

Education takes place mainly
through activities. Activities need to
be clearly directed towards an educational objective and motivate young
people to achieve something and
be successful. Activities provide opportunities to acquire skills and demonstrate competencies.

A person is recruited for a specific
task and on the basis of practical
competencies. High motivation is
essential together with a potential
to develop skills. The ability to succeed is essential.

Training aims at developing functional effectiveness. The emphasis
is on developing skills to achieve and
prove successful. Training will be
decentralised if it is more effective.
Cost effectiveness in training is essential.

Adherence to a value system is personal. Essential values are: loyalty
to the ultimate goal and competence to pursue it. Solidarity and cooperation in pursuing the ultimate
goal are also necessary.

One may move from one task to
another according to demonstrated competencies and achievements in completing a project.
Personal status is based on competence.

Caring for others. Ability to work on
one’s own but also to cooperate in
an autonomous way. A person who
is deeply involved but shows respect
for other people’s feelings and convictions. Egalitarian, non-judgmental , accepting of others. Adaptable
and open to change.

Based on equality and careful attention to individual needs. Adaptable to differences. Empathy. Acceptance of one’s own limits by the
leader: the other person has knowledge and has a right to develop further than me. Acceptance of differences. A strong will to share internal motivations.

Considered as legitimate, change is
easily accepted when it is consistent with ideals and ultimate goals.
It must be decided by all or, at least,
everybody should have a sense of
ownership. Cannot be introduced by
force. Change is the norm since
nothing is established for ever.

Gives equal importance to interpersonal relationships and the technical aspects of completing an activity. Puts more emphasis on cooperation than on competition. Activities
should support personal progress
and group dynamics. It offers many
opportunities for active youth participation.

Open in principle... provided that the
person shows an open mind, displays a positive attitude towards
other people and acts in a supportive way. Being autonomous and taking initiative are essential.

Training must be close to individuals and their specific needs. Implementation must be flexible and
norms can be adapted. Functional
training must be deeply rooted in
personal development. “Learning
to do” largely depends on “learning to be” and cannot be dissociated.

Self-respect and respect for others
are essential values from which everything else will flow. Each person
should develop a personal set of
values to guide his/her life. He/
she should also continually check
that proclaimed values are effectively adhered to and practised.

Mobility across the entire network, according to needs. Tasks
are allocated according to needs,
expectations of individuals and
demonstrated competence. Completion of a task leads to assessment and reassignment according to the needs of the association and expectations of the individual.