The Organizational culture : What it is?

About this series:

The organizational culture is the oft-discussed topic in managerial and non-managerial parlance, and yet, it remains as much misunderstood or un-understood phrase. There are many imaginary concepts, beliefs, mysteries and tardyons intertwined with it, too.

In our present series, we aim to understand its true meaning, its different facets so that we can apply it to attain, and maintain, the competitive edge, required to achieve the sustained success. We will also see how such organizational cultures are built or destroyed.

Every company has its own unique personality, just like people do. The unique personality of an organization is referred to as its culture. Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations.[1]

It encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business The organizational culture influences the way people interact, the context within which knowledge is created, the resistance they will have towards certain changes, and ultimately the way they share (or the way they do not share) knowledge. Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members. It may also be influenced by factors such as history, type of product, market, technology, strategy, type of employees, management style, and national culture. Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location, beliefs and habits.[2]

In simple terms, to the extent that people can share common wishes, desires and aspirations, they can commit themselves to work together. It is a matter of being able to care about the same things, and it applies to nations as well as to associations and organizations within nations.

Organizational 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.[3]

Anyone can copy a company’s strategy, but nobody can copy their culture. At its worst, corporate culture can be a drag on productivity and performance. At its best, it is an emotional energizer…Organizational culture is like an iceberg, with most of its weight and bulk below the surface. Don’t leave the organizational iceberg unattended! ..And let’s forget that the culture of any organization is shaped by leadership.[4]

Seven elements make up an organizational culture:

    1. Structural stability. All cultures are held together quite rigidly by their own values and beliefs. It’s what identifies the group and resists any changes to the members.
    2. Breadth. Culture is pervasive and touches every part of the organization. Even if someone doesn’t fully adhere or agree with the culture, they are subject to it anyway since it’s what is generally accepted.
    3. Depth. Do not underestimate how ingrained and unconscious culture is present in any group. It’s how people act and not have to explain their actions to their peers.
    4. Patterning or integration. When the members of the group exhibit the same behavior over a period of time, it means that culture makes their beliefs coherent.
    5. Visible artifacts. The office is a great example of an artifact important to organizational culture theory. But mostly these are things that are very apparent on the surface of the group such as hierarchy, interaction and attitudes during meetings.
    6. Espoused beliefs, values, rules and behavioral norms. When you look up at the company corkboard or its website and you see the mission and visions then you’ve seen these element.
    7. Underlying, taken-for-granted assumption. There are tacit, basic things that explain the artifacts and beliefs.[5]

P.S. Please see the full size  @: What is organizational culture – The dynamics of organizational culture – Why leaders should care about organizational culture

[1] What is Organizational Culture? – Definition & Characteristics

[2] Organizational culture

[3] What is Organizational Culture?

[4] What is organizational culture

[5] Organizational Culture Theory: Things to Know and How to Use it in the Workplace


In July 2011, I opted to retire from my active career as a practicing management professional. In the 38 years that I pursued this career, I had opportunity to work in diverse capacities, in small-to-medium-to-large engineering companies. Whether I was setting up Greenfield projects or Brownfield projects, nurturing the new start-ups or accelerating the stabilized unit to a next phase growth, I had many more occasions to take the paths uncharted. The life then was so challenging! One of the biggest casualty in that phase was my disregards towards my hobbies - Be with The Family, Enjoy Music form Films of 1940s to mid-1970s period, write on whatever I liked to read, pursue amateur photography and indulge in solving the chess problems. So I commenced my Second Innings to focus on this area of my life as the primary occupation. At the end of four years, I am now quite a regular blogger. I have been able to build a few very strong pen-relationships. I maintain contact with 38-years of my First Innings as freelance trainer and process facilitator. And yet, The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

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