Levels of Corporate Culture
What is culture?
A question easily asked but not so easily answered. Let’s examine the word and its origin first. “Culture” has a Latin origin – “cultus”, meaning a system of religious belief and worship. The word is also linked to training, discipline, horticulture, agriculture – and the growing of micro organisms in a laboratory. Culture might also be understood as patterns of behavior characteristic for groups of people, which are passed on from generation to generation. It also can be seen as norms and social roles, linguistic paradigms and mental models.
Emergence of Organizational culture
At the early 1980s organizational scholars began paying ...view middle of the document...
-- similar to what you can use to get a feeling about someone's personality.
Corporate culture can be looked at as a system. Inputs include feedback from, e.g., society, professions, laws, stories, heroes, values on competition or service, etc. The process is based on our assumptions, values and norms, e.g., our values on money, time, facilities, space and people. Outputs or effects of our culture are, e.g., organizational behaviors, technologies, strategies, image, products, services, appearance, etc.
Corporate culture is one of those focus areas that are not always fully understood and are not optimally utilized either in an organization.
The concept of culture is particularly important when attempting to manage organization-wide change. Practitioners are coming to realize that, despite the best-laid plans, organizational change must include not only changing structures and processes, but also changing the corporate culture as well.
There's been a great deal of literature generated over the past decade about the concept of organizational culture -- particularly in regard to learning how to change organizational culture. Organizational change efforts are rumored to fail the vast majority of the time. Usually, this failure is credited to lack of understanding about the strong role of culture and the role it plays in organizations. That's one of the reasons that many strategic planners now place as much emphasis on identifying strategic values as they do mission and vision.
Different definitions of organizational culture:
Schein defines organizational culture as a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as a correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.
Pettigrew states that organization culture is the system of common and jointly perceived meanings valid for a certain group towards a given moment and it is the source of symbols, language, ideology, beliefs, rituals and myths in the organization.
Paunov states that organizational culture is everything in an organization (even if the boss is not cultural), because the entity comes into existence by people, exists for and through its people. This position holds a socio-anthropological angle.
According to the Routledge dictionary of business management organizational culture is not only the shared beliefs, values, attitudes and expectations of its members that make up the life of an organization, but also the unquestioned assumptions about its traditions and ways of doing things.
In this paper we are going to concentrate on Edgar Schein’s understanding of what corporate culture is and its levels. “But why he?” you might ask. Let’s have a close look at his biography and the answer will be clear.
Edgar H. Schein’s biography