Organizational culture and its impact on the success of a business are topics that have received more than their fair share of research. Along with this abundance of research come many varied definitions of the term. Schein (1990) offered a widely accepted interpretation in stating that culture is revealed in the shared beliefs, values and behavior of the organization’s members. By elevating workplace standards to the cultural level within an organization, an increased level of accountability is created amongst employees. This heightened level of accountability can be leveraged into a positive impact on the organization’s success. (Guiso, Sapienza & Zingales, 2014).
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From this basis form some of the unconventional elements of Tower’s internal culture. Tower has a relaxed and casual workplace with an emphasis on quality of work life. Their office is an open workplace, devoid of traditional office spaces with doors, that is inclusive of everyone in the organization. Management believes that empowerment promotes an environment in which all employees can achieve their full potential. Finally, the overarching theme of inclusivity creates a powerful learning environment, burgeoned by 360 degree feedback at all levels of the organization.
1. Cutting Edge Technology and Innovation
The very foundation of Tower’s early success as a financial services firm is rooted in innovation and cutting-edge technology. Wyld and Maurin (2009) stated that innovations positively affect a company’s financial performance and its long-term ability to compete effectively. Managers and scholars have largely accepted the correlation between strength in organizational culture and positive organizational results (Jassawalla & Sashittal, 2002). Creator of LimeWire (an immensely popular and equally controversial peer-to-peer file sharing client) and founder of Tower, Mark Gorton is no stranger to establishing new and pioneering cultures through the development of innovative products, in this case, quantitative trading strategies. An ever evolving creature, the financial industry is becoming more dependent on technology to determine its industry leaders. Tower’s reliance on quantitative and high frequency trading strategies positively represent a paradigm shift from the archaic, dying model of the floor trading/open outcry auction scene of the stock exchanges of yesteryear. Research conducted by Jassawalla and Sashittal (2002) suggests that innovation-supportive cultures can foster creative, innovative and initiative-taking behaviors among participants.
2. Quality of Work Life
Findings from an empirical study conducted by Lau and May (1998) suggest that companies with high quality of work life can enjoy exceptional growth and profitability. From the moment you walk in the door at Tower, you are made to feel at home. Management believes that the sense of comfort achieved by providing some of the “little things” creates a happier and thus, more productive employee. For example, consider the company financed breakfast available every morning. Numerous, types of coffees and juices, bagels with lox and assorted cream cheeses, oatmeal and protein bars only scratch the surface of what is offered. The health conscious element of the breakfast is readily apparent and demonstrates that the organization is invested in its employee’s quality of work life. Rothbard and Wilk (2011) argue that start-of-workday mood may provide an affective frame which dictates how people feel about daily experiences in the workplace. With a stomach full of the breakfast of my choosing, my workday tends to start more positively.