Corporate cultures provide identifying characteristics and values for organizational members to appreciate and learn. Cultures are distinguished by artifacts, values, and basic assumptions. The socialization process is the entry stage in an organization that provides clues about its culture. Cultures are difficult to change, yet change is necessary in some instances for survival. Organizations need an adaptive culture in order to respond effectively to the changing environment.
After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following:
1. Define organizational culture and explain its three levels.
2. Identify the four functions of culture within an organization.
3. Explain the relationship between organizational culture and performance.
4. Contrast the characteristics of adaptive and nonadaptive cultures.
5. Describe five ways leaders reinforce organizational culture.
Describe the three stages of organizational socialization and the ways culture is communicated in each step.
Identify ways of assessing organizational culture.
8. Explain actions managers can take to change organizational culture.
Chapter 16 introduces the following key terms:
organizational (corporate) culture
change and acquisition
THE CHAPTER SUMMARIZED
I. THINKING AHEAD: The Entrepreneurial Culture of Enron
II. THE KEY ROLE OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
Organizational cultures exist in all organizations, and have important effects on the morale and motivation of organizational members. Cultures are communicated through artifacts, values, and basic assumptions that are both visible and invisible. Stories are considered by some as the most effective approach to reinforcing an organization’s values, and frequently involve the CEO. Values that organizations hold can be either enacted or espoused. When espoused values are not confirmed by actions, the organizational culture is weakened. Leaders have a responsibility to monitor and alter the organizational culture when necessary. Much of our concept of organizational cultures has been adapted from cultural anthropology. There appears to be distinct cultures in organizations.
The subject has been studied closely since the 1970s, and particularly since the early 1980s, with the publication of the Deal and Kennedy’s Corporate Cultures, Ouchi’s Theory Z, and Peters and Waterman’s In Search of Excellence. One of the best known scholars in the area of corporate cultures is Edgar Schein. Schein became interested in organizational culture when he discovered, while teaching in Mexico and Europe, that company cultures may be stronger than country cultures.
A. Culture and its Levels
Organizational (corporate) culture is a pattern of basic assumptions that are considered valid and that are taught to new members as the way to perceive, think, and
feel in the organization. Culture consists of the three levels of artifacts, values, and basic
Symbols of culture in the physical and social work environment are called artifacts. Artifacts are the most visible and accessible level of culture. Artifacts include personal enactment, ceremonies and rites, stories, rituals, and symbols.
1. Personal Enactment
Personal enactment is behavior that reflects the organization's values.
2. Ceremonies and Rites
Ceremonies can be divided into organizational rites, including rites of passage, rites of enhancement, rites of renewal, rites of integration, rites of conflict reduction, and rites of degradation. They are relatively elaborate sets of activities that are enacted repeatedly on important occasions.
Stories are rich carriers of organizational culture that give meaning and identity to organizations and help orient new employees. There are stories about the boss, stories about getting fired, stories about how the company deals with employees who have to relocate, stories about whether lower-level employees can rise to the top, stories about how the company deals with crisis situations, and stories about how status considerations work when rules are broken.
Everyday practices that are repeated frequently are known as rituals. Typically unwritten, rituals send a clear message about the way things are done in an organization.
Symbols communicate the culture through unspoken messages, and include company logos, company colors, and even mental images held by employees.
Values are a deeper level of culture that reflects underlying beliefs. An espoused value is what organizational members say they value, like ethical practice. Enacted values are values reflected in the way individuals actually behave, and may differ from espoused values.
Assumptions are deeply held beliefs that guide behavior and tell members of an organization how to perceive and think about things. They are often held at a level below consciousness and are difficult to measure.
III. FUNCTIONS AND EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
Culture serves four functions, including providing a sense of identity to members and promoting a sense of commitment. Culture helps organizational members attribute sense and meaning to organizational events, and reinforces the values in the organization. Finally, culture serves as a control mechanism for shaping behavior.
A. The Strong Culture Perspective
A strong culture is an organizational culture with a consensus on the values that drive the company and with an intensity that is recognizable even to outsiders. Strong cultures can be positive or negative. For example, street gangs have strong cultures, yet they also exhibit negative characteristics.
B. The Fit Perspective
The concept of fit asserts that an organization’s culture is only good if it fits, or aligns itself, with the industry or the firm’s strategy.
C. The Adaptation Perspective
Adaptive cultures encourage confidence and risk taking among employees, have leadership that produces change, and focus on the changing needs of customers. Cultures that promote long-term performance tend to be the most adaptive. Adaptive cultures facilitate change to meet the needs of their constituents.
IV. THE LEADER'S ROLE IN SHAPING AND REINFORCING CULTURE
A. What Leaders Pay Attention To
Organizational members can get information about the priorities, values, and beliefs of leaders by observing the things on which leaders spend their time, as long as leaders are consistent in what they pay attention to.
B. How Leaders React to Crises
Many believe that organizations show their real culture during times of crisis, and consequently pay close attention to the leaders during a crisis situation.
C. How Leaders Behave
Employees emulate the leader's behavior and look to leaders for cues to appropriate behavior. Leaders demonstrate the organization’s values and culture through their behavior.
D. How Leaders Allocate Rewards
Rewarding behavior that is consistent with the organization’s values increases acceptance of those values and the organization’s culture. If leaders do not allocate rewards in a way that reinforces espoused values, employees may become confused and frustrated.
E. How Leaders Hire and Fire Individuals
Leaders often reinforce a desired organizational culture through the selection of new employees whose value systems are similar to the organization’s value system. Promoting from within the organization also serves to reinforce the culture. Also, both the rationale behind firing an employee and the manner in which the termination is carried out convey a great deal about the organization’s culture.
V. ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION
A. The Stages of the Organizational Socialization Process
Organizational socialization is the process by which newcomers are transformed from outsiders to participating, effective members of the organization. The movie The Firm illustrates this concept particularly well, in that the socialization process for the new lawyer is exaggerated to make a point, and occurs more quickly and aggressively than is typical in most organizations.
1. Anticipatory Socialization
All of the learning about the organization that occurs before a newcomer’s first day on the job is referred to as anticipatory socialization. Realism is the degree to which the new person holds accurate expectations about the job and the organization. Congruence refers both to the extent to which a newcomer’s abilities match the demands of the job, and the extent to which the newcomer’s values match the values of the organization.
The second socialization stage, in which the newcomer learns the organizational tasks associated with the job, clarifies roles, and establishes relationships at work, is known as encounter. Expectations formed in the anticipatory socialization stage may clash with the realities of the job during this stage.
3. Change and Acquisition
During the change and acquisition stage, newcomers begin to master the demands of the job. The time span of the last stage varies greatly, but is complete when the newcomer and others consider the newcomer an organizational insider.
B. Outcomes of Socialization
Successful socialization of newcomers typically results in good performance, high job satisfaction, and the intention to stay with the organization. Mutual influence also indicates successful socialization.
C. Socialization as Cultural Communication
The socialization process centers on the transmission of the organization’s core values to newcomers. Newcomers are exposed to these values through interaction with and observation of role models, through training, and through the rewarding and punishing of specific behaviors.
VI. ASSESSING ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
Quantitative and qualitative techniques are both valuable approaches to assessing culture.
A. Organizational Culture Inventory
Based on Maslow's need hierarchy, the Organizational Culture Inventory (OCI) measures twelve cultural styles. It provides an assessment of culture at the individual level that can be aggregated to the group level or organization level. The two dimensions of the OCI are task/people and security/satisfaction.
B. Kilmann-Saxton Culture-Gap Survey
This survey focuses on what actually happens and on the expectations of others in the organization. It measures operating norms and ideal norms along the two dimensions of technical/human and time (short term versus long term). Results provided at the individual level can be aggregated to the group level.
Triangulation refers to the use of multiple methods to measure organizational culture. Three commonly used methods include (1) obtrusive observations, (2) self-administered questionnaires, and (3) personal interviews. This approach provides a more complete picture than using any of the methods singularly would reveal.
VII. CHANGING ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
Organizations need to periodically reassess their cultures as environmental changes occur due to globalization, workforce diversity, and advances in technology. Mergers and acquisitions require the blending of two organizational cultures, often a difficult process. Two basic approaches to changing culture are (1) helping current organizational members buy into a new set of values, and (2) adding newcomers and socializing them into the organization, and removing current members as appropriate.
A. Developing a Global Organizational Culture
Developing a global organizational culture requires that the values that drive an organization’s culture support a global view of the company and its efforts. Conflicting pressures of centralization and decentralization add to the difficulty of creating such a culture.
B. Developing an Ethical Organizational Culture
An organization’s culture can profoundly affect the ethical behavior of its employees. Managers must behave in an ethical manner themselves, encourage ethical behavior from their employees, and present ethical behavior as good business. Trust plays an important role in any effort to develop an ethical organizational culture.
C. Developing a Culture of Empowerment and Quality
Empowerment requires trust between managers and supervisors and between supervisors and employees. In an environment of trust, empowerment releases the creative energy of employees and leads to increased productivity and higher quality products and services. However, in order to develop a culture of empowerment, managers must be willing to let go of traditional hierarchical notions of power.
VIII. MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: THE ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE CHALLENGE
IX. LOOKING BACK: How Enron’s Culture Empowers People
· Organizational (corporate) culture is a pattern of basic assumptions that are considered valid and that are taught to new members as the way to perceive, think, and feel in the organization.
· The most visible and accessible level of culture is artifacts, which include personal enactment, ceremonies and rites, stories, rituals, and symbols.
· Organizational culture has four functions: giving members a sense of identity and increasing their commitment, serving as a sense-making device for members, reinforcing organizational values, and serving as a control mechanism for shaping behavior.
· Three theories about the relationship between culture and performance are the strong culture perspective, the fit perspective, and the adaptation perspective.
· Leaders shape and reinforce culture by what they pay attention to, how they react to crises, how they behave, how they allocate rewards, and how they hire and fire individuals.
· Organizational socialization is the process by which newcomers become participating, effective members of the organization. Its three stages are anticipatory socialization, encounter, and change and acquisition. Each stage plays a unique role in communicating organizational culture.
· The Organizational Culture Inventory and Kilmann-Saxton Culture-Gap Survey are two quantitative instruments for assessing organizational culture. Triangulation, using multiple methods for assessing culture, is an effective measurement strategy.
· It is difficult but not impossible to change organizational culture. Managers can do so by helping current members buy into a new set of values, by adding newcomers and socializing them into the organization, and by removing current members as appropriate.
REVIEW QUESTIONS: suggested answers
1. Explain the three levels of organizational culture. How can each level of culture be measured?
Artifacts are the most visible and accessible level of culture. Artifacts include personal enactment, ceremonies and rites, stories, rituals, and symbols. Values are a deeper level of culture that reflects underlying beliefs. Espoused values are communicated through written information and the spoken comments of organizational leaders. Enacted values are evident in organizational members’ behavior. Assumptions are deeply held beliefs that guide behavior and tell members of an organization how to perceive and think about things. They are often held at a subconscious level and are difficult to measure.
2. Describe five artifacts of culture and give an example of each.
Personal enactment: The President of the company volunteers at Habitat for Humanity.
Ceremonies and rites: Total quality teams present members with certificates at an elaborate banquet to recognize their efforts in reducing errors.
Stories: Herb Kelleher first presented his idea for Southwest Airlines on the back of a napkin.
Rituals: At Texas A&M football games, all students remain standing throughout the game.
Symbols: Most universities have shields and/or emblems that serve as their logo and are printed on transcripts, diplomas and letterhead paper.
3. Explain three theories about the relationship between organizational culture and performance. What does the research evidence say about each one?
The strong culture theory says that deeply held and widely shared cultures perform best. Research evidence provides modest support. The fit perspective says the culture should fit the industry and the organization’s strategy. Research evidence indicates that the fit perspectivepredicts only short-term performance. The adaptation perspective says that flexible, responsive cultures lead to long-term performance. Research evidence supports this perspective.
4. Contrast adaptive and nonadaptive cultures.
Adaptive cultures encourage risk taking and confidence among employees, while nonadaptive cultures tend to reduce risk taking and are political and bureaucratic. Nonadaptive cultures are inflexible to the changes necessary to respond to internal demands or environmental changes.
5. How can leaders shape organizational culture?
Employees emulate leaders’ behavior. They look for consistency between espoused values and enacted behavior. Leaders can shape organizational culture by what they pay attention to, by how they react to crisis situations, and by the way they reward, hire and fire organizational members.
6. Describe the three stages of organizational socialization. How is culture communicated in each stage?
Anticipatory socialization is the set of information gathered before a newcomer actually joins the organization. Culture is ascertained by hints in the interview process, contacts with current employees, and media channels. The second stage is the encounter stage, where a newcomer learns his or her tasks and clarifies his or her role. In this stage, culture is communicated by mentors, supervisors, and others who model behavior, as well as through policies, meetings, memos, etc. In the last stage, change and acquisition, both the newcomer and others begin to think of the newcomer as an insider. The individual is rewarded for displaying behavior that reflects the values of the culture.
7. How can managers assess the organizational culture? What actions can they take to change the organizational culture?
Sophisticated tools and techniques have been developed to assess organizational culture. The Organizational Culture Inventory is a popular tool that diagnoses the fit between the organization and the individual. The Kilmann-Saxton Culture-Gap, another popular tool, compares what actually happens with the expectations of others in the organization. This instrument helps pinpoint gaps in cultural change that affect performance, job satisfaction, and morale. Triangulation includes three techniques that provide the most comprehensive view of the organization when used in combination.
8. How does a manager know that cultural change has been successful?
Using the interventions for changing organizational culture presented in Figure 16.3, managers can assess the extent to which employees buy into a new set of values rather than merely complying with them.
9. What can managers do to develop a global organizational culture?
Managers can create a clear mission statement and share it with all individuals. Next, they need to ensure that the flow of information is effective. They can broaden managers’ minds to allow them to think globally. Global career paths ensure that a broad range of employees experience various cultures. Tapping into the strengths of various cultures can enhance the products and services. Finally, managers can implement worldwide management education and team- development programs to help establish a shared identity among organizational members.
DISCUSSION AND COMMUNICATION QUESTIONS: suggested answers
1. Name a company with a visible organizational culture. What do you think are the company’s values? Has the culture contributed to the organization's performance? Explain.
If students have difficulty discussing a specific company, it is useful to highlight a type of environment with which most can identify. The medical field provides very recognizable examples of culture. The medical field is monitored through self-accreditation and maintenance. Peers scrutinize the quality of their ranks, leading to a highly competitive and highly independent form of organization. Hospitals have little control over physicians, yet a great deal of joint sponsorship of goals. This shared responsibility and lack of authority leads to a very decentralized organization that lacks commitment to the organization from the colleagues. Loyalty is directed primarily toward the profession rather than the organization.
2. Name a leader you think manages organizational culture well. How does the leader do this? Use Schein’s description of how leaders reinforce culture to analyze the leader’s behavior.
Most students will mention famous people initially. The problem with responding with high visibility individuals is that they may not be able to discuss the specifics of how these individuals reinforce culture. The textbook examples are some of the better examples. It is also interesting to discuss managers who may not be particularly adept at managing culture.
3. Suppose you want to change your organization’s culture. What sort of resistance would you expect from employees? How would you deal with this resistance?
Change is inevitable in all organizations, as is resistance to change. Even those individuals who advocate change will experience some anxiety as the organization’s culture changes. Typically, individuals who have been with an organization longer have some commitment and investment to the "way things are". These individuals should be centrally involved in planning and implementing changes.
4. Given Schein’s three levels, can we ever truly understand an organization's culture? Explain.
Artifacts, such as ceremonies and rituals, are obvious most of the time. Values are less obvious and assumptions may be very difficult to uncover. Values and assumptions become very important when they are challenged or when a crisis forces the organization to take decisive action.
5. To what extent is culture manageable? Changeable?
Culture is very difficult to change, and it does not happen quickly. However, culture can be changed if there is a conscious effort to assess the existing culture to determine what needs to be altered. Accomplishing change may require hiring new members into the organization.
6. Select an organization that you might like to work for. Learn as much as you can about that company’s culture, using library resources, online sources, contacts within the company, and as many creative means as you can. Prepare a brief presentation to the class summarizing the culture.
This exercise is excellent to assist in preparing students for the job search process. It gives them practice at researching an organization and allows them to learn about a variety of companies through their classmates’ presentations.
ETHICS QUESTIONS: SUGGESTED ANSWERS
1. Are rites of degradation ethical?
No. Students' examples will have varying degrees of severity. Bans on hazing practices can stimulate interesting conversations.
2. Is it ethical to influence individual’s values through the organizational culture? If culture shapes behavior, is managing culture a manipulative tactic? Explain.
When organizations suppress individuality, they are probably engaging in manipulation of employees. Do students see the issue differently when they consider organizations such as an all women’s college, a male barbershop quartet, or a Hispanic club?
3. How can leaders use organizational culture as a vehicle for encouraging ethical behavior?
When organizational leaders respond to ethical issues in visible ways that reflect ethical behavior, they reinforce ethical behavior in their organizations. Leaders can also promote ethical behavior as a good business practice that leads to congruence with society as a whole.
4. Korean chaebols hire individuals to fit their cultures. To what extent might this practice be considered unethical in the United States?
Such a practice might hinder equal employment opportunities for women and minorities in the United States. Dismissal of employees who do not fit the culture may result in legal actions against the organization on the basis of discrimination. Alternatively, organizations can and do attempt to hire individuals whose values match their own in order to sustain a certain organizational culture and/or image.
5. One way of changing culture is to remove members who do not change with the culture. How can this be done ethically?
Performance standards that reflect the new desired behaviors can be used to assess members’ contributions to the organization. When failure to change negatively affects job performance, members with substandard performance can be removed.
16.1 ANALYZING THE THREE LEVELS OF CULTURE
Encouraging students to discuss examples from this challenge in the classroom can really bring the concepts alive for them. Another option would be to have the whole class evaluate the artifacts in the university’s environment.
16.2 ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE AND ETHICS
This challenge integrates the material on ethics with the information on organizational culture. Students could also be asked to evaluate the ethical climate of the university. This would provide a common experience to generate class discussion on the influence an organization’s culture has on the ethical behavior of its members.
16.1 Identifying Behavioral Norms
Students enjoy this exercise. There are sometimes very different norms for the international students than for the dominant culture students. Some students will have a hard time remembering the socialization process they lumbered through as freshmen. It is worth noting that transfer students have a different socialization process than most students. Another interesting response usually follows if you ask students how their campus culture differs from other universities.
16.2 Contrasting Organizational Cultures
Unless impression management issues are involved, it is usually better to have students get factual information about the organizations that are on the list. It is also worthwhile to allow students to select an organization that is not on the list, particularly if they are interested in non-profit organizations.
Alternative Experiential Exercise
The Headband Activity
Advancement Strategies, Pfeiffer, 1992
1. In advance, write labels on headbands that reflect areas of difference relevance to the group. Suggested labels include the following: Single parent, highly educated, gay, physically handicapped, learning disabled, over sixty, under twenty-five, HIV positive, Native American, African American, Jewish, Puerto Rican, Mexican American, Chicano, Chinese American, African, and West Indian.
2. Ask students to form circles containing no more than ten members. Hand each participant a headband and ask him or her to tie it across his or her forehead without reading what is written on it. (Members can clearly see on another's labels but not their own.) If you prefer, it works well with nametags.
3. Give the small groups this decision-making task to perform: "Role play an employee group charged with the responsibility of determining merit increases for its members. The problem is that all but three members can receive increases this year. The other members must wait until next year and try again."
4. Tell the group they have only 20 minutes to decide and the decision must be unanimous. Instruct participants not to share with another person what label he or she is wearing but to treat one another as they would treat people of the labeled group.
5. Process the activity initially by asking each participant to guess what his or her headband said and to discuss how he or she discerned the label.
6. Post on a flip chart the following discussion generators and invite the class to share responses with one another:
· How did it feel to wear a label? Would it have felt better if you had known what it said or if you had been able to choose another label?
· Did you treat others according to their labels? Why? Why not? Did you find that your behavior changed over the course of the activity? What factors influenced your behavior?
· Did you feel empowered or disempowered by your role? Why?
EXTRA EXPERIENTIAL EXERCISES
The following alternative exercises to supplement the material in the textbook can be obtained from:
Marcic, Dorothy, Seltzer, Joseph, & Vaill, Peter. Organizational Behavior: Experiences and Cases, 6th Ed. South Western College Publishing Company, 2001.
Organizational Culture Assessment. p. 213-218. Time: 45 minutes in class.
Purpose: To identify organizational norms and to identify campus norms students hold in
Decisions at R.J.P.&B. Advertising. p. 219-220. Time: 50 minutes.
Purpose: To discuss the impacts of downsizing and physical settings on organizational
Fandt, Patricia M. Management Skills: Practice and Experience. West Publishing Company, 1994.
In-Basket Exercise2: Establishing Priorities. p. 281.
In-Basket Exercise 3: Developing Work Strategies. p. 283.
CASE QUESTIONS: SUGGESTED ANSWERS
Explain Patagonia’s culture using the levels of organizational culture model that is presented in Figure 16.1.
Three levels of organizational culture are identified in Figure 16.1: artifacts, values, and basic assumptions.
Artifacts refer to the visible symbols of culture, including personal enactment, ceremonies and rites, stories, rituals, and symbols. Personal enactment is the artifact that is most evident in the case. Personal enactment is behavior that reflects the organization’s values. The three Patagoniacs mentioned in the case engage in behavior that reflects commitments to people and to the environmentand both are core values of the organization.
Values reflect people’s underlying beliefs of what should or should not be. Key values for members of the Patagonia organization include a love of the outdoors; being passionately committed to quality, to people, and to the environment; and the desire to make a difference. Additionally, espoused values and enacted values are highly consistent at Patagonia.
Assumptions are the deeply held beliefs that guide behavior and tell members how to perceive and think about things. Patgonia’s values suggest that the underlying assumptions pertain to an unbridled appreciation for the natural environment and concern about preserving it and to the importance of people pursuing their respective passions. The underlying assumptions are also reflected in the following statement from Patagonia officials: “We prefer the human scale to the corporate, vagabonding to tourism, the quirky and lively to the toned down and flattened out.”
Using the concept of a strong culture, explain the nature of Patagonia’s culture.
A strong culture refers to one where there is consensus on the organization’s core values, where organization members are highly committed to those values, and where there is substantial resistance to change regarding those values. Consensus on and commitment to the organization’s core values are evident in the Patagoniacs’ shared characteristics, which reflect the company’s core values of loving the outdoors; being passionately committed to quality, to people, and to the environment; and desiring to make a difference. While not stated directly, substantial resistance to change in Patagonia’s core values can be very easily implied from the case facts.
Can Patagonia’s culture be described as an ethical organizational culture? Explain your answer.
An ethical organizational culture is one with norms that promote ethical behaviorthat is, doing what is right, fair, and just. Students should be encouraged to interpret the different elements of the case in terms of “doing what is right, fair, and just.” In particular, they can cite Patagonia’s commitment to people, quality, and the natural environment as evidence of an ethical organizational culture.