When we talk about culture, we are typically referring to the pattern of development reflected in a society’s system of knowledge, ideology, values, laws, social norms and day-to-day rituals. Accordingly, culture varies from one society to another. The word “culture” has been derived metaphorically from the idea of “cultivation” the process of tilling and developing land. Thus, culture can be considered as a constellation of factors that are learned through our interaction with the environment.

The organizational culture is a system of shared beliefs and attitudes that develop within an organization and guides the behaviour of its members. There are clear-cut guidelines as to how employees are to behave generally within organization. The employees need to learn how the particular enterprise does things.

A few definitions on the term organizational culture are given below:-

According to Larry Senn, The corporate culture “consists of the norms, values and unwritten rules of conduct of an organization as well as management styles, priorities, beliefs and inter-personal behaviour that prevail. Together they create a climate that influences how well people communicate, plan and make decisions”

Joanne Martin defines cultures in organization in the following words “As individuals come into contact with organizations, they come into contact with dress norms … the organization’s formal rules and procedures, its formal codes of behaviour rituals …. And so on. These elements are some of the manifestations of organizational culture”.

Edgar Schein defines organizational culture as “a pattern of basic assumptions – invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration – that has worked well enough to be considered valuable and, therefore to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and fell in relation to those problems”.

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.

  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. 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.
  3. 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.

Successful Organisational Culture

Successful Organisational Culture

Research conducted by D.R Denison and A.K Mishra, show that organizational culture is related to organizational success. Organizational culture is a framework that guides day-to-day behaviour and decision making for employees and directs their actions toward completion of organizational goals. Culture is what gives birth to and defines the organizational goals. Culture must be aligned with the other parts of organizational actions, such as planning, organizing, leading, and controlling; indeed, if culture is not aligned with these tasks, then the organization is in for difficult times.

The figure below shows that culture based on adaptability, involvement, a clear mission and consistency can help companies achieve higher sales growth, return on assets, profits, quality and employee satisfaction.

  • Adaptability: is the ability to notice and respond to changes in the organization’s environment.
  • Involvement: In cultures that promote higher levels of employment in decision making employees feel a greater sense of ownership and responsibility.
  • Clear Mission: Mission is a company’s purpose or reason for existing. In organizational cultures in which there is a clear organizational vision, the organization’s strategic purpose and direction are apparent to everyone in the company.
  • Consistency: In consistent organizational cultures, the company actively defines and teaches organizational values, beliefs and attitudes. Consistent organizational cultures are also called strong cultures, because the core beliefs and widely shared and strongly held.
  • Conclusion: Organisational culture refers to a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organisation form other organisations. Organisational culture is concerned with how employees perceive the characteristics of an organisation’s culture. It represents a common perception held by the organisation’s members. Culture performs a number of functions within an organisation.
  1. It has a boundary-defining role. It creates distinctions between one organization and another organisation.
  2. Organisational culture conveys a sense of identity for organisation members. Organising
  3. Culture facilitates the generation of commitment to something larger than one’s individual self- interest.
  4. Organisation culture enhances the stability of the social system.
  5. Culture guides and shapes the behaviour and attitude of employees.

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Principles of Management and Organisational Behaviour Topics