BASIC ELEMENTS OF CULTURE

From the above definitions it is clear that culture is how an organization has learned to deal with its environment. It is a complex mixture of assumptions, behaviours, myths and other ideas that fit together to define what it means to work in a particular organization. Edgar H Schein suggests that culture exists on three levels: artefacts, espoused values and underlying assumptions.

Schein’s Levels of Culture

Schein’s Levels of Culture

  1. Artefacts: According to Schein, Artefacts are the first level of organizational culture. Artefacts are the things that come together to define a culture and reveal what the culture is about to those who pay attention to them. They include products, services, and even behaviour patterns of the members of an organization. Schein has defined Artefacts as things that “one sees, hears, and feels when one encounters a new group with an unfamiliar culture”.
  2. Espoused Values: Espoused values are the second level of organizational culture.
  3. Values are things worth doing, or the reasons for doing what we do. Values are the answers to the “why” questions. For examples, why are you reading this book? To know more about Organization Behaviour. Why is that Important? To be a better HR Manager. Why do you need more money? To fulfil my wife’s desire to own a farm house. Such questions go on and on, until you reach the point where you no longer want something for the sake of something else. At this point, we have arrived at a value. Corporations have values, such as size, profitability, or making a quality product. Espoused values are the reasons that we give for doing what we do. Schein argues that most organizational cultures can trace their espoused values back to the founders of the culture.

  4. Basic Assumptions: The third level of organizational culture, are the beliefs that organization members take for granted. Culture prescribes “the right way to do things” at an organization, often through unspoken assumptions.

The influence of the leader on Organization Culture: Managers, especially top managers, create the climate for the enterprise. Their values influence the direction of the firm. Although the tern “value” is used differently, a value can be defined as a fairly permanent belief about what is appropriate and what is not that guides the actions and behaviour of employees in fulfilling the organization’s aims. Values can be thought of as forming an ideology that permeates every day decisions. In many successful companies, value-driven corporate leaders serve as role models, set the standards for performance, motivate employees, make the company special, and are a symbol to the external environment.


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