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Organizational Culture

24 Pages | 5,074 Words
Wendy Morton, MA (#108724)

This eBook discusses organizational culture. This eBook will offer a summary of the concept. Organizational culture can be viewed as the shared values and practices an organization follows. Schein (2004) suggest, in order to make sense of certain aspects of an organization, we should view them through a cultural lens. Culture can be comprised of expectations, stories, values, and other shared beliefs (Schein, 2004). The culture of an organizational can be weak or strong; open or closed (Schein, 2004). Schein (2004) suggests that culture is the personality of an organization. This view offers a unique perspective on how organizations work.

The study of organizational culture can be very important to understand socialization within the organization and organizational values. The eBook will summarize organizational culture, how culture impacts organizational performance, and how leaders influence organizational culture. Culture can influence strategy in an organization. Organizational culture can determine whether a business is open to change, able to learn and use new knowledge, and a good place to work. Culture can manifest physically and mentally. Some members may find that they do not fit with the culture of an organization. In a sense, culture is the compass of an organization.

In summary, culture is the character and compass of an organization. It is comprised of values, stories, and practices that are shared by the members of the organization. It can be both apparent and obscure. This eBook will introduce the reader to the basics of the concept, the influence culture has employees and business practices, and how culture is influenced by leaders. After reading this eBook, students should have a solid understanding of the concept.

An Introduction to Organizational Culture

Organizational culture is a unique group phenomenon that guides action when groups of people organize to reach common goals. An organization s culture can be both corporeal and mental in nature. What does this mean? Organizational culture is shared by members of the group and guides day-to-day activities in the work environment. Organizational culture is comprised of those items that guide action, including the written value statements or visions of the organization. This is an example of the physical aspect of organizational culture. The mental components of organizational culture include behavior norms or how people relate to coworkers and customers during the business day (Schein, 2004). Schein (2004) contends that organizational culture has three levels: artifacts, espoused values, and underlying assumptions. These are discussed in Section 1.1.

Think back to a time when you took a new job or joined a new group. For a while you had to learn the acceptable ways to do things, from the actual completion of tasks to social interactions with your coworkers, peers, or customers. As you observed others in action, you learned about the unique culture of the organization. You may have been admonished when your actions did not reconcile with established norms. You may have been scolded with: That s not the way we do things around here! This process is called socialization.

Organizational culture can be very social, relational, and emotional in nature. It can be rigid, inflexible, and unforgiving. It can also be innovative, learning focused, and proactive. It can be changed by esteemed leaders or the worker bees (Schein, 2004). Individuals do not simply join an organization and assimilate to the cultural expectations. Leaders and subordinates alike impact the organizational culture with their own unique set of social structures gleaned from the life experiences of the individual (Hallett, 2003).

Organizational culture can make or break attempts to implement change (Yukl, 2006). Organizational culture can also impact overall effectiveness and efficiency (Denison & Mishra, 1995). Given these statements, organizational culture becomes an important item for leaders to pay close attention. Researchers contend that the leader of an organization can directly affect and mold the company s culture (Schein, 2004; Yukl, 2006). Change can be a painful time in many organizations. With careful cultivation by senior leadership, implementing change can be much less traumatic for group members. How leaders influence organizational culture will be discussed in detail later.

Organizational culture, especially in relationship to organizational leadership, is not static. As new members join the organization, react and respond to the norms, stories, expectations, and values the culture may be challenged and changed. Organizational cultures may be fragmented, with no clearly understood, accepted culture guiding the agency. Subcultures may arise within the organization that challenges the existing norms of an inadequate culture (Schein, 2004).

Organizational culture is the set of shared norms, expectations, stories, values, and attitudes shared by the members of an organization. Organizational culture begins to form at the birth of the organization, as members agree upon what tasks to complete, how to go about completing those tasks, what the values the organization espouses, and which members are accepted in leadership positions. Organizational culture continues to mature and change with the organization (Schein, 2004).

About the Author

Wendy Morton, MA

Active since Mar 2011

My name is Wendy Morton. I have a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Political Science from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. I have a Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. I am currently a Regional Health Consultant with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, where I have worked in various roles over the past sixteen years. I pursued a graduate degree in leadership in order to find motivation and inspiration to more actively lead positive change in my organization. I became a BrainMass Academic Expert to remain sharp in my field and fulfill a desire to be active in an academic setting. Along with my full-time position as a consultant in a large public health agency and working part-time as a tutor online, I am also a wife and mother. While it becomes difficult to juggle the demands placed on me with all my different roles, providing students with insight, guidance, and recommendations is extremely rewarding. I truly enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas about leadership with students.

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