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Change in Romanian organizations: a management culture approach
Maria Viorica Grigoruta ¸˘
ˆ Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Iasi, Romania ¸
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify means and opportunities available to managers in Romanian companies in order to successfully undergo the process of integration in the European Union, by accepting the cultural diversity in the global organization in the twenty-ﬁrst century. Design/methodology/approach – The objectives have in view the identiﬁcation of the characteristics of change in Romanian companies by means of the organizational culture, the development of organizational culture in an unstable, changing environment and the identiﬁcation of the present values and of those desired by the Romanian employees as managers or subordinates. The practical research took place by means of the questionnaire and the interview used for 26 managers with hierarchical positions in various companies in the city of Iasi. During their careers, they attended at least one “organizational development” course, they used questionnaires for 6 subordinates and are in the stage of research for the processes of product change in the management activities of the organization from the perspective of management culture. Findings – In the end, the observations were made on 84 valid questionnaires and they allowed for the discovery of the ways of understanding and expression of the dimensions of organizational culture at the present moment and of the future level desired by the employees, in their relations with their co-workers and with the managers in the analysed companies. Research limitations/implications – The way it was performed, the research allows for a series of common conclusions related to the way in which the management activity is currently conducted, especially in the Romanian companies which functioned under the authority of the state until 1990 and have preserved a series of traditional management mechanisms. Considering the evolution of the Romanian society, the steps that will be taken in knowing and applying the new tendencies and dimensions of management and organizational and individual development, the research will continue in the future, aiming at making suggestions regarding the adjustment capacity of Romanian companies, relating to the organizational culture, among others. Practical implications – In the organizations which were analysed for the research, the paper identiﬁed a preoccupation for the aspects connected to the dimensions of organizational culture and an orientation towards individual and organizational change concerning the “acceptance” of a new system of values. Originality/value – The choice of the subjects and the conception of the system of values of the organizational culture led to a certain degree of originality of our research, allowing for the offering of necessary information and resources to the interested parties, as well as for the opening of future ways of analysing the change processes which will occur in the management of Romanian companies. Keywords Organizational change, Organizational culture, European Union, Culture, Romania Paper type Research paper
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1. Introduction Organizational culture develops and manifests itself differently in different organizations. One cannot say that one culture is better than another just that it differs in certain aspects. There is no ideal culture, only a good culture, appropriate to
Journal of Organizational Change Management Vol. 19 No. 6, 2006 pp. 747-752 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0953-4814 DOI 10.1108/09534810610708396
the organization. This means there cannot be a universal recipe for managing the culture of any organization, although there are certain approaches. Culture management refers to the implementation, the refreshment of the existing culture of an organization or the change of an obsolete culture. The approach of organizational culture is be characterized by several general considerations. Considering the previously mentioned aspects, we can conclude that culture management is an analysis and diagnosis problem, followed by the managers’ carrying out a series of adequate interventions, aimed at transforming the organization. 2. Theoretical basis 2.1 Deﬁning organizational culture Peters and Waterman’s (1982) work, In Search of Excellence, uses the term corporate culture, invented in the 1970s. As soon as organizational culture became a fashionable subject, at the end of the 1980s, the management literature also popularized the concept of excellence, as the common way in which the members of an organization think, act and feel (Hofstede, 1996, p. 34). According to the two academics, excellence, superimposes a strong organizational culture. An extremely simple deﬁnition is presented by T.E. Deal: the organizational culture is the way things take place in an organization. (Bonciu, 2000, p. 79). Although based on a series of values characteristic to a national culture, organizational culture is made of practices, behaviors and attitudes deﬁned in relation with a series of concrete situations. (Mereuta et al., 1998, p. 24). Even if the use of the ¸˘ term culture both for nations and for organizations suggests the two kinds of culture are identical, they are different (Hofstede, 1996, p. 209). Simion Mehedinti identiﬁes two types of culture: organic and inorganic. ¸ Culture is a sum of presuppositions about the way the world works. It represents a set more or less coherent, more or less articulate, of values, organizational behaviors and practices and of orientation of the organizational behavior. Johns (1998, p. 227) considers that at an informal level organizational culture can be understood as the style, atmosphere or personality of an organization. It includes the shared beliefs, values and hypotheses existing in an organization. 2.2 Analysis and diagnosis of organizational culture Schein (1987, p. 198) suggested the most powerful mechanisms to implement and refresh an organization’s culture are: . what managers seek, appraise and control; . managerial reactions to critical incidents; . deliberate role modeling; and . fair rewarding and promotion criteria. Since, cultures develop over a long time, and are usually deeply rooted, they are also difﬁcult to change. When in the organization there is a weak or weakly supported culture, this presents the opportunity for change. It is hard to for people change attitudes and long held conceptions. All managers can do is to help facilitate behavioral change to reduce the dysfunctional elements in a culture and introduce functional ones.
Organizational culture has history and structure, and that is how it can remain unchanged for a long time despite the coming and going of an employees. It is born out of the experience of the situations when internal and external pressures acting on the organization are acted on. Culture is an integral part of the process of selecting personal options. It inﬂuences what the organization feels, its concerns and its ability to deal with problems. Organizational culture is a force that allowed a series of large companies, like IBM, Delta Airlines, Kodak, British Airways to become successful corporations. Culture analysis and management action diagnosis must take place on the permanent basis of observing and studying the behavior that indicates the prevailing norms and values of a society. 2.3 The role of the specialist in human resource management One can distinguish the role of the human resource specialist in supporting and developing the culture management within the organization. The human resource specialist occupies an advantageous position to analyze the existing culture and to produce diagnoses for top management. They can advise managers regarding the setting of the values expected by the employees, the way these values can be communicated to the employees and the way in which behaviors can be changed in order to ﬁt the modiﬁed values. One extremely important aspect is that the human resource specialist can project and help implement the change programs, especially those involving education and training, performance management and even initiatives of reward management. In many organizations, the role of the human resource specialists covers the internal consulting regarding the culture management problems, as well as the introduction of new human resource management systems. On a global level, external consultants are still frequently used, since they have a detached, objective opinion, but they operate as part of a team made of management specialists and human resource specialists and not as independent individuals. 2.4 Consulting methods in support of culture management As soon as the elements of implementing, refreshing or changing the organizational culture are set, those who facilitate the culture management program will use consulting methods for these processes. Schein (1987, p. 98) claims process consultancy, suggesting either external consultancy or internal human resource management specialists. The consultancy of the process of implementation, refreshment or change of the organizational culture supposes considerable abilities. It has to set relations with management on all levels. The human resource expert, considered consultant during this period, must observe and analyze the ongoing processes in the organization and to work, to listen to the groups and consult them. 3. Methods and results To support the above theoretical approach, we did a practical study on series of 26 managers occupying different hierarchical positions in the company Antibiotice S.A., Iasi. The managers, most of whom attended a professional training course named ¸ organizational culture development, were asked to complete questionnaire followed by giving this questionaire to six of their colleagues. We recieved 84 usable questionnaires.
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All the subjects were asked to specify: . the dominant values within the organizational culture; . the strong and the weak points of the organizational culture; and . what rapid changes should be done in order to exploit the strong points or to improve the weak points. In the structure of the questionnaire we listed from the beginning a series of 22 values of the organizational culture which may become manifest within the organization and the respondents were asked to select ﬁve of these values that they consider to be shared and used most often, describing both the present situation and the refreshed situation they would want in 4-5 years. The employees’ answers were then processed and presented. 4. Discussions Organizational culture is the basis on which a company’s existence is articulated. In the Romanian experience after 1990 some companies started vigorously, but on their way they began to slow the rhythm, and others climbed step by step the way of the success. After a long period when in Romania the phrase – it works anyway became deeply rooted, the companies with a long tradition adopted the – it does not work like this anymore. The managers who understood this began to build a new organizational culture. Within the company SC Antibiotice S.A. there is a harmonious and balanced mixture of the tradition of medicine producer and the orientation towards continuous innovation, towards improved procedures and organizational change. This is how it became obvious that under the present situation many managers and subordinates respect the order and discipline, are interested in assuming responsibility for their actions or decisions, consider quality as very important, show concern for clients’ satisfaction and think that good results are achieved by observing procedures. In a future projection of the organiszational culture values we notice a reversal of the value hierarchy desired by the employees of Antibiotice. S.A. They place ﬁrst the orientation towards continuous innovation, towards improved procedures, the fair appraisal of individual performances and merit recognition, stimulating team work and they pay a minimum attention to the precise execution of superiors’ orders and to mutual support. It is difﬁcult to achieve a general comparison between the Romanian management and the European one, from the perspective of transformation dynamics, because it is extremely clearly deﬁned by the business environment. The strong points of the researched organization’s management are good knowledge of the local, internal and international business environment, the existence of good training, the experience of the managers, the employee’s managers’ ability to make effective decisions and efforts to adapt to the EU demands. The identiﬁed weak points were: the top management’s reluctance to instruction, the lack of knowledge of managerial theory and foreign languages, the absence of effective training, the lack of communication, organizing deﬁciencies and the reluctance to using the new market study methods. The identiﬁed weak points may be cleared by: modifying the tax legislation affecting the business environment, constant improvement, the ministry’s elaborating
sector strategies and supporting successful companies. When a company sends its employees to a professional training course, it does so in order to have better prepared people, who will reﬁne their abilities and discover new skills. If when coming back into the company, the employee sees that he cannot use the acquired knowledge or that he is refused the opportunity of achieving performance, there is the risk of his leaving. 5. Conclusions We consider that any one or more of the following approaches can be used to support the management of organizational culture: . the mission details must be in accordance with explicitly stated values; . workshops that involve people discussing the new values and behaviors and their practicing; . educational and improvement programs leading to acquiring new knowledge and abilities; and . performance management programs that ensure appropriate placement appraisals and awards supporting and sanctioning the changed values. These kinds of programs can be used not only to change, but also to refresh a certain culture. Ideally, they are practiced at the level of the whole organization. Operational managers can have a major contribution, ﬁrst of all by understanding their culture and then becoming involved as much as possible in setting the purposes and the constituents of a culture management program and, lastly, by developing it in their own team, replacing and refreshing the system of organizational values at the level of the entire department.
References Bonciu, C. (2000), Instrumente Manageriale Psihosociologice, Editura ALL Beck, Bucuresti. ¸ ˆ Hofstede, G. (1996), “Managementul structurilor multiculturale”, Software-ul Gandirii, Editura ˘ Economica, Bucuresti. ¸ ˘ Johns, G. (1998), Comportament Organizational, Editura Economica, Bucuresti. ¸ ¸ ˆ Mereuta, C., Pop, L., Vlaicu, C. and Pop, L. (1998), “Culturi organizationale ˆn spatiul romanesc”, ¸˘ ¸ ı ¸ Valori si Proﬁluri Dominante, Editura FIMAN, Bucuresti. ¸ ¸ Peters, T. and Waterman, R. (1982), Search of Excellence, Harper & Row, New York, NY. Schein, E.H. (1985), Organizational Culture and Leadership, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA. Further reading Armstrong, M. (1987), “Human resource management: a case of the emperor’s new clothes?”, Personnel Management, August. Atkinson, J. (1984), “Manpower strategies for ﬂexible organizations”, Personnel Management, August. Beattie, D.F. and Tampoe, M.K. (1990), “Human resource planning for ICL”, Long Range Planning, Vol. 23 No. 1. Beer, M. and Spector, B. (1985), “Corporate transformations in human resource management”, in Walton, R.E. and Lawrence, P.R. (Eds), HRR Trends and Challenges, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.
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Beer, M., Eisenstat, R.A. and Spector, B. (1990), “Why change programs don’t produce change”, Harvard Business Review, November/December. Drucker, P.F. (1988), “The coming of the new organization”, Harvard Business Review, January/February. Guest, D.E. (1989), “Personnel and HRM: can you tell the difference?”, Personnel Management, January. Guest, D.E. (1990), “Human resource management and the American dream”, Journal of Management Studies, p. 27. ˘ ¸ Mehedinti, S. (1986), Cultura si Civilizatie, Editura Junimea, Iasi. ¸ ¸ ¸ Mintzberg, H. (1973), The Nature of Managerial Work, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY. Pascale, R.T. and Athos, A.G. (1981), The Art of Japanese Management, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. Peters, T. (1988), Thriving on Chaos, Macmillan, London. Peters, T. and Austin, N. (1985), A Passion for Excellence, Collins, Glasgow. Pettigrew, A. and Whipp, R. (1991), Managing Change for Competitive Success, Blackwell, Oxford. Porter, M. (1985), Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, The Free Press, New York, NY. Corresponding author Maria Viorica Grigoruta can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org ¸˘
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