Management: Organizational Culture Essay

Submitted By JamesChen3
Words: 3074
Pages: 13

Organizational culture came to prominence in the 1980’s and has been the focus of intensive debate. As being one of the most important elements constituting of organizations, it imposes a variety of impacts on almost every aspects of organizational life. From According to observations, an organizational culture that fits the organization’s strategic goals usually has a positive effect on the members and leads to improvement on in overall performance of the organization.

Due to the complexities inherent in it, organizational culture is difficult to be conceptualized and doesn’t possess a single definition. One of commonly used definition is given by Gareth Jones:

“A set of shared values and norms that controls organization members’ interaction with each other, and with suppliers, customers and others outside the organization.” [i]

Put it a simple way, culture tells us “how things are done around here”. Thus it’s strongly powerful in a way that, according to Atikinson, “it reflects the underlying assumptions about the way work is performed; what is acceptable and not acceptable; and what behavior and actions are encouraged and discouraged”.[ii] The power of organizational culture stems from the notion that organizations in essence rest as much in the heads and minds of their members as they do in concrete sets of rules and relations. Organizational culture endows almost every bits of organizational life with deeper meanings, or symbolic significances that go beyond the physical presence of organizational components. Under certain organizational culture in some instances, “the slogans, symbols, stories, rituals, and patterns of tribal behavior that decorate the surface of organizational life merely give clues to the existence of a much deeper and all-pervasive system of meaning”.[iii] For instance, with reference to Gareth Morgan, the “locked door” story in HP conveys the information that the company trusts and values employees, and embraces a philosophy of feeling free to innovate and contribute in whatever way possible. These symbolic meanings direct workers’ effort to the organizational values. In fact, organizational goals are achieved through the combined efforts of its members. If its members identify themselves within their organization,organization, and internalize its values, then they will be motivated to accomplish the organization’s objectives. This is the way how culture comes into play, as it’s one of decisive factors in the process of forming members’ collective attitudes towards work. Peters and Waterman (1982) state that a strong organizational culture is to the benefit of the firm, in terms of improved economic success. This claim was further supported by the work of Deal and Kennedy (1982) who concluded:

”The impact of strong culture is amazing, it makes employees feel better about what they do, so they are more likely to work harder.”

Nowadays managers see the magic of culture and therefore start using it as a means of improving management effectiveness. Many managers “have begun to adopt new roles as corporate gurus attempting to create new forms of corporate consciousness because they believe modification in existing culture will lead employees to work harder”.[iv] To some extent, the talk about corporate culture is messianic in terms of enhancing the organization’s overall performance, however, it tends to be over-optimistic. Organizational culture consists of both overt and covert parts, which brings with it subtleness and all-pervasiveness. These natures of culture are easily to be paid receive less attention than they deserve through the management’s manipulation of culture, thus unsatisfactory or undesired outcomes occur. Schein (1985) identifies three distinct levels of organizational culture, namely, artifacts, values and norms, and basic assumptions. Artifacts are the outwards manifestations of culture, such as dress codes and the physical layout of work spaces. The visibility