Organizational culture is the pattern of shared values and beliefs that help individuals understand organizational functioning. The characteristics that captures the essence of organization's culture include member identity, group emphasis, people focus, unit integration, control, risk tolerance, reward criteria, conflict tolerance, means- end orientation, and open system focus. Appraising the organization on these ten characteristics gives a composite picture of the organization's culture.
However, we have strong culture and weak culture. Strong cultures are those in which organizational values and beliefs are widely shared and significantly influence people's behaviour on the job. Organizations with a strong culture create clear and coherent values and expect that members agree with and care intensely about those values.
Denison identifies four key traits that an organization should master in order to be effective as mission, consistency, involvement, and adaptability.
Strong organizational cultures have been linked to increased staff alignment, resulting in enhanced organizational effectiveness.
However some research shows that strong cultures may enhance short-term success but inhibit long-term organizational performance, and may even contribute to long-term failure by preventing organizations from adapting to changing contingencies.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS............................................................3
1.0 Introduction 4
1.1 Culture 4
1.2 Organizational culture 5
1.3 Strong culture and weak culture 8
2.0 Strong culture and organizational effectiveness 8
2.1 Subculture 12
3.0 Leadership role in organizational effectiveness 13
4.0 Conclusion 14
Culture is the way we do things are done around here (Schein, 1985) defining the actions of an organization in overt and covert ways, and when change takes place (Smollan, 2009). Culture can also be defined as the collective programming of the mind (Hofstede, 2005). According to Jan Vom (2011), two significant elements covers the scope of culture: (1) culture's manifestation (2) scope of the referenced group.
Organization's culture is manifested through visible structures and strategies (Jan Vom, 2011). The three layers of culture related to its manifestation are; artefacts, espoused values, and basic underlying assumptions (Schein, 2004 as quoted in Jan Vom, 2011).
The visible artefact through which culture is manifested includes company's symbols, its products, architecture, way of dressing, typical behaviours and rituals. It is important to connect artefacts to values.
Espoused values are less visible and encompass publicly expressed strategies, goals, norms and rules that provide the daily operating doctrine for members of the organization.
Basic underlying assumptions are a subconscious part of the culture which accounts for a mental map of fundamental aspects of life such as the nature of time and space, the role of social hierarchies, and the relative importance of work, family, and self-development. These represent the essence of culture.
Scope of the referenced group
Reference group refers to the set of people an individual perceives as belonging to his or her work environment which defines the social world of work in which he or she engages, including people with whom the individual does and does not communicate (Lawrence, 2006).
Thus, the referenced group are the people within the context of the culture. The scope of the culture is defined depending on the referenced group (Jan Vom, 2011).
1.2 ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
Organizational culture has been defined by numerous authors in different ways. Deshpande and Webster (1989) define organizational culture as the pattern of shared values and beliefs that help individuals understand organizational functioning thus providing norms for behaviour in the organization.
In contrast, other authors such as Schein (1985) have put forward that culture is best thought of as a psychological tendency, which he refers to as 'basic assumptions', that members of an organization learns as it solves its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and considered valid because it is successful, and then taught to new members to use when facing those problems.
However, no matter how we choose to define culture, Culture is an important aspect of an organization, and organization's with strong culture increase the chances that members can execute its objectives and increase organizational performance by enlightening members on those objectives (Pottruck, 2001).
Chantman, and Chaldwell (1991) quoted in Dwivedi (1995) suggests that the ten primary characteristics that, in aggregate, capture the essence of organization's culture includes:
Member identity: how employees identify with the organization as a whole rather than with their type of job or field of professional expertise.
Group emphasis: The degree to which work activities are organised around groups rather than individuals.
People focus: the degree to which management decisions taken into consideration the effect of outcomes on people within the organization.
Unit integration: the degree to which units within the organization are encouraged to operate in a coordinated or interdependent manner.
Control: the degree to which rules, regulations, and direct supervision are used to oversee and control employee behaviour.
Risk tolerance: the degree to which employees are encouraged to be aggressive, innovative, and risk seeking.
Reward criteria: the degree to which rewards such as salary increases and promotions are allocated according to employee's performance rather than seniority, favouritism, or other non- performance factors.
Conflict tolerance: the degree to which employees are encouraged to air conflicts and criticisms openly.
Means-ends orientation: the degree to which management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on the techniques and processes used to achieve those outcomes.
Open - system focus: the degree to which the organization monitors and responds to changes in the external environment.
These characteristics reflect the organization's value and are used to determine an organization's culture. Depending on its strength, it can bring about organizational effectiveness (Dwivedi, 1995).
However, some researchers have questioned how well strong cultures improve organizational performance. According to Denison (1990), organizations with strong cultures had greater returns on investments, but this only happens in the short run, after three years the relationship between cultural consistency and performance becomes negative.
Also, Alicia (2002) is of the opinion that strong cultures may facilitate short-term success but inhibit long-term organizational performance, and may even contribute to long-term failure by preventing organizations from adapting to changing contingencies.
Thus, while cultural strength may bring about increase in organizational performance in the short run, they may also inhibit an organization's ability to adapt, change, and innovate.
1.3 STRONG CULTURE AND WEAK CULTURE
An organization's culture can either be strong or weak depending on the degree of alignment of the organization's value and employee's response to stimuli because of their alignment with it (Olivier, 2009).
Strong cultures: Here, organizational values and beliefs are widely shared with significant influence on people's behaviour with respect to their job (John, 2006). It encompasses the ability to influence and motivate organizational members to act in an approved manner in the organization, and also an agreement on the part of members, regarding the importance of the organizational values (Schein, 2004).