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Organisational Cultures A definition.

The importance of organisational culture is universally recognised by a variety of

disciplines (Doherty, et al., 2013). For instance Peters and Waterman contend that,
peoples greatest need is to find meaning in their working lives (Peters and
Waterman, 2004), Doherty, eta al. (2013) agree with this statement adding that the
need for respect is an evident core value that must be adopted by organisations thus
allowing staff to feel valued, included and appreciated.
A commonly agreed upon definition of what an organisational culture is has proven
to be rather difficult, this is particularly evident when Kroebner, et al. (1985) identified
164 separate definitions of workplace culture. Westrum (2004) emphasises this
adding: to speak of organisational culture is to take on many problems. Approaches
to organisational culture have been diverse . There appears to be no common
understanding about what culture is.
Hatch (1997) concurs with Westrum stating: is perhaps the most difficult of all
organisational concepts to define. Conversely however, Bellot (2011) disagrees with
these theories stating this does not necessarily mean that organisational culture is a
weak or ill-defined concept, rather this divergence is indicative of a continually
developing body of research. However for the purpose of this essay Scheins (2010)
definition the way we do things here is perhaps the most appropriate.

Organisational Cultures A model.
There are a multitude of organisational cultural models, however the most prominent
of them - it has been recognised by the Financial Times as one of the 40 most
important frameworks in the history of business, is the Competing values framework
(CVF). (DeGraff, 2014)
The CVF was first described by Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983) for the purpose of
determining the values employees hold as valuable within an organisations culture.
Their research resulted in a model for organisation that is based on two dimensions:
Organisational process (organic vs. mechanistic)
Organisational orientation (internal vs. external)
The CVF experienced further development and adaptation by Cameron and Quinn
(1999) and Deshpande and Farley (1998), resulting in the framework including tools
that allow for a deeper examination of organisational. These tools further identified
four culture types:
The Clan Culture (organic, internal) is characterised by an emphasis on
cohesiveness, teamwork and commitment to the organisation.
The Market Culture (mechanistic, external) is characterised by
competitiveness and goal achievement.
The Adhocracy Culture (organic, external) is characterised by its focus
creativity, entrepreneurship, and dynamism.
The Hierarchy Culture (mechanistic, internal) is characterised by order,
rules and regulations, uniformity and efficiency. (Cameron and Quinn,
1999, Deshpande and Farley 1998)
It should be noted that the adapted CVF has been used widely by Deshpande,
Farley and Webster (1993 & 1998) in their Asian and cross-culture research who
define these four cultural styles respectively as Rabbit, Monkey, Elephant and Tiger.

Figure 1 The CVF model of Organisational culture types as adapted from Quinn & Rohrbaugh (1983), Cameron and Freeman
(1999) and Deshpande and Farley (1998).

Organisational Culture Its development.
An organisational culture often emerges at the early stages of the organisations
development, the management team/owners who are involved with the business
from its inception have the opportunity to establish a culture. Thereafter, the
employees/staff who come on board will often fall in with the established behaviour
patterns that have been established. While an organisational culture can and will
evolve over time with new staff and management regimes, a will require time to
develop and once developed can be difficult to change or amend. (Schein, 2010)
There are numerous factors that influence the formation of an organisations culture.
Doina, et al. (2008) propose and describe the following to be some of the most
important factors:
The Founders/Owners.
It has often been noted that the ideals and philosophies of the founders create
the culture and ideals of an organisation. They owners have the ability and
authority to exert their influence.
The Environment (economic, cultural and technological)
These external factors have a profound effect on the internal cultures of an
organisation, a relevant example given by Doina, et al. (2008) is the current
economic crisis and how organisations in their continued bid to exist are
practicing efficiency and ruthlessness, this attitude has been shown to filter
down the levels of an organisation. The result is that departments are
becoming result and cost driven with higher expectations placed on
employees and teams.
Leadership and Management Style
this has a considerable effect on group behaviours. Managers have the ability
to create a working atmosphere that has honesty, trust and appreciation at its
heart, the opposite is also true. This corresponds to what Peters and
Waterman (2008) stated.
The Organisations Characteristics
Characteristics often depend on the size and complexity of an organisation.
Larger companies tend to have a higher degree of specialisation and a more
impersonal character, this can result in the formation of subcultures due to the
disengagement that often occurs between sections and divisions of a large
In contrast it can be said that a smaller company will have a more
homogenous character which should encompass the entirety of the company.
The degree of formality exhibited at a companys inception is an important
factor in a companys character, this be observed by how many rules, policies
and norms that employees have to be complied with.

Organisational Culture Its effects.
It is broadly accepted that organisational culture is related to performance (Westrum
2004, Scott et al. 2003a, and Peters and Waterman 2004). Glisson (2007) identifies
that, a number of studies in various organisations link culture. to service quality,
service outcomes, worker morale, staff turnover, adoption of innovations, and
organisational effectiveness.
Scott et al (2003b) however, urge restraint when interpreting the trend of any
connection between performance and culture, they suggest that it: is equally
plausible that certain cultures emerge from high performing organisations... That is
performance may drive culture. They highlight that crucially it is not enough to know
whether culture is linked to performance ... We also need to discover how and why it
is linked for only then can we decide if policies, strategies and interventions are
Furthermore the effects of an organisations culture can have a significant effect on
employees behaviour as well as their performance (Lunenburg and Potter, 2011,
Hellriegel and Slocum, 2011), this can be observed in the following areas
By being aware of an organisations culture the employee will be able to
understand the organisations history and current methods of operations. This
insight will provide key guidance on expected behaviour and attitude.
An organisations culture has the potential to foster employee commitment,
this will depend on the companys philosophy and values. This commitment
can generate feeling of working towards shared goals.
An organisations culture through its established norms can serve as a control
mechanism to influence behaviour, the norms can encourage desired
behaviour while discouraging undesired behaviour. Another method to
accomplish this is through the companys recruitment and retaining processes
where employees are retained or hired depending on their values best fitting
the organisations own values.

Organisational Culture Change.
Given the complexity conceptualising and instigating an organisational culture, it is
small wonder that Grant (2011) cautions, Cultural change cannot happen at the flick
of a switch and change cannot happen without some form of disruption.
Halligan (2007) approves stating that, there is no more difficult task than that of
changing peoples behaviour It would follow therefore that the main actors who
instigate an organisations culture would also be those that exert the most influence
when changing it, in most case this will be the organisations leaders. (Doherty, et
al., 2013)
Denning (2010) believes that changing an organisations culture is one of the most
difficult leadership challenges, furthermore he writes that the difficulty is due the
nature of organizational culture which comprises of an interlocking set of goals,
roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions;
these goals fit together as an mutually reinforcing system and combine to prevent
any attempt to change it.
Denning (2010) states that changing a culture is a large-scale undertaking, and all of
the companys tools will need to be put into use. However, he warns that the order in
which these tools are deployed will have a critical impact on the likelihood of
Denning (2010) contends that the most productive success strategy begins with
leadership tools, such as a vision or a story for the future, then cement the change in
place with management tools (such as role definitions, measurement and control
systems), and then finally the use of power tools such as coercion and punishments
as a last resort, when all else fails.

Organisational Culture Authors experience.
It has been the authors experience working for an organisation that promotes itself
as a clan culture that after researching the theory of organisational culture, the
company evidently falls into the Hierarchy Culture. The established organisational
culture focuses on the founders believes and philosophies. Resulting in a workforce
that is demotivated, passive due to all actions and decisions being controlled by the
To change the organisations culture would involve a change in the founders
attitude, a change in management/leadership style and an overhaul of the
companys characteristics. This change would be significant and in the authors
opinion very unlikely for the foreseeable future.

Organisational Culture - Summary
Organisational culture remains a developing area of research and interest for a
variety of disciplines. The difficulty in describing the concept will predictably lead to
challenges in studying it, its effect on quality and productivity, and how best to
assess and change it. (Doherty, et al. 2013)
Whilst it is clear that culture change is a complex and lengthy process, for which
there no set procedure, factors that facilitate change have been identified and these
include: leadership, engagement, communication and team work (Leonard and
Frankel, 2012, Leape et al., 2012). These factors can therefore be considered the
bases on which culture improvement should and must be based upon, and their
importance should not be undervalued. (Doherty, et al. 2013)

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