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Organizational Culture

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Organizational Culture

The organizational culture is the personality of an organization (McNamara, 1997).  In his book Understanding Organizational Culture, Mats Alvesson (2002) has defined an organization as a space for “cultural traffic,” which is to say that the organizational culture is really made up of the different messages of the diverse groups that are connected with it.  These groups include the employees, consumers, as well as the suppliers.  Together, these entities bring in their knowledge to the organization and move it in the desired direction, i.

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e. toward greater productivity and increased revenues.

     When we think of “culture,” we are automatically led by our neural pathways to imagine the people who make up a particular culture, participate in it, and help to change it whenever changes are needed.  Given that people are diverse in their interests, even a community with a particular culture that has no diversity in terms of racial groups, would reveal diversity in its culture because of the different messages that the community receives from the people with diverse interests.

  Hence, a community may identify with a culture of prayer at the same time as its young ones thrive on music.  This kind of diversity is essential to make a culture what it is.

     Gwendolyn Whitfield, and Robert Landeros (2006) write about the importance of diversity in today’s organizational culture:

         Diversity in organizations is one of many challenges confronting firms in dynamic business environments.  Adroitly managing diversity has become a prominent issue in management theory and business practice (Pless and Maak 2004).  According to a study facilitated by Fortune magazine and the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 75 percent of surveyed organizations have engaged in some type of diversity activity or initiative (Holmes 2005).  Organizations are beginning to emphasize diversity as a core element in their business strategy and practices.

Because the interests of the employees, consumers, and suppliers are diverse, the organization must incorporate diversity into its culture.  In other words, everybody who is involved with the organization must have his or her interests represented in some way to make the organizational culture what it is.  Furthermore, the organization of today is made up of people who are diverse in their backgrounds, for example, race, religion, educational levels, etc.  All of these elements of diversity are incorporated into the organizational culture.  Charlie Coffrey and Norma Tombari (2005) explain the importance of diversity to a company bent on improving its organizational culture:

         RBC Financial Group recognizes that leveraging diversity helps achieve overall corporate vision and strategic priorities.  Diversity is more than respecting differences between ethnic groups or genders; it is about acknowledging a variety of dimensions and life situations.  It helps create more productive workplaces, build an environment of inclusion, attract, retain and engage talented people, gain a competitive advantage and provide superior service to clients.  The RBC value, “diversity for growth and innovation” makes good business sense and is the right thing to do for employees, customers, communities and shareholders alike.

An organizational culture may be good or bad in relationship with the productivity and revenue levels of the organization.  A simplistic way to understand this notion is to assume that whereas one organization employs its workers five days a week on the job; another allows them four holidays off whenever they perform excellently.  Such practices become an integral part of the organizational culture which employs them.  And so, scholars have pointed out the four essential factors that make for an effective organizational culture versus an ineffective one.  According this model, effective organizations empower their employees, organize themselves around teams, and also develop human capability.

Secondly, effective organizations tend to have strong cultures that are “highly consistent, well coordinated, and well integrated” in terms of certain core values.  Third, organizations that are well integrated and also responsive to external factors – the most important of which are the customers – have the most effective organizational cultures.  Finally, effective organizations are ones with a clear sense of purpose and direction.  These organizations must also have goals and strategic objectives, expressing a vision of the organizational future (Fey and Denison, 2003).

     According to a news report, “Company Leaders Beware: Neglecting Organizational Culture May Pose Risks to Earnings, Growth and Shareholder Value,” published through the PR Newswire (2006), the organizational culture is vital to the success or failure of a business.  By understanding its own organizational culture and organizational needs, a company may very well work to improve its organizational culture and thereby fulfill its organizational needs in terms of productivity and revenues.  However, companies that do not pay any attention to their organizational cultures, are warned that they may undermine their business results by not paying heed to their cultures.  To put it another way, the organizational culture is a means of gaining competitive advantage, and companies that have not thus far viewed organizational behavioral science as essential to business success, must gain an awareness of this science before it is too late.

     Sheryl Shivers-Blackwell (2006) writes, “Organizational culture, through its existence and influence on behavior, frames and shapes the use of leader behaviors.”  The behavior of leaders is influenced by other players in the organizational structure, that is, the subordinates, the consumers, and the suppliers.  For a leader to change his own behavior, and therefore organizational management to achieve improved business results, an understanding of the organizational culture is necessary.  What is more, by understanding the organizational culture, the leader can seek to influence the other players in the organizational structure – through leadership strategies.  A change in organizational structure is bound to bring a change in the behavior of the leader as well.  Moreover, this change in the culture may very well lead to improved effectiveness in the organizational practices.

     Andy Hines (2006) points out that environmental scanning is essential to business success.  This means, of course, that the organization must keep an eye on its own organizational culture, which includes the external players in its makeup.  As a matter of fact, by environmental scanning a company is better equipped to make organizational changes.  It may decide, for example, to downplay a certain cultural factor, or upgrade the importance of another one.  Organizations can influence the culture or the environment.  By so doing, they can increase in productivity and revenues, provided that they make necessary changes in the organizational environment or culture.  In short, organizational culture is of the essence, both to understand an organization, and to improve an organization’s productivity and increase revenues.

Annotated Bibliography

Alvesson, Mats. (2002). Understanding Organizational Culture. London: Sage.

Written by one of the leading proponents of “organizational symbolism” in Europe, this book is a scholarly account of the meaning of organizational culture.  Essentially a university textbook, Understanding Organizational Culture provides an in-depth analysis of the subject.  The author uses researches to support his understanding of the organizational culture.  In the process, he discusses diversity as one of the most important makers of this culture.

I have found this book very useful to gain an understanding of organizational culture.  This book was especially important in moving the present analysis in the direction of organizational change, and the actors responsible for change.

Coffey, Charlie, and Tombari, Norma. (2005, July). The bottom-line for work/life leadership: linking diversity and organizational culture. Ivey Business Journal Online.

Published in a business journal, “The bottom-line for work/life leadership: linking diversity and organizational culture” is a scholarly article reflecting on work/life leadership and talent management.  These important organizational factors are linked to organizational culture as well as diversity.  The article emphasizes on change in organizational culture with respect to the needs of an organization.  It thus makes it clear that organizations that learn and grow are always better off.

My understanding of organizational culture with respect to diversity has been advanced through this scholarly article.

Fey, Carl F., and Denison, Daniel R. (2003, November). Organizational culture and effectiveness: can American theory be applied in Russia? Organizational Science.

“Organizational culture and effectiveness: can American theory be applied in Russia?” is a scholarly article describing effective organizations versus the ineffective ones with respect to the organizational culture.  The article, published in a professional journal, is also focused on the American theory of organizational culture being applied in Russia.  The authors have performed an extensive study to understand organizational culture in both nations.  They have also clarified very important differences among the organizational cultures in the two countries.

This article was very helpful to my understanding of good and bad organizational cultures.  While on the surface it may appear that all organizational cultures are good, this is clearly not the case, given that some are more effective than others.

Hines, Andy. (2006, September). Strategic foresight: the state of the art. The Futurist.

“Strategic foresight: the state of the art” clarifies the importance of environment scanning for organizations that wish to make gains.  In fact, it imperative for organizations to understand their organizational culture before they can make changes to it in order to increase revenues.  Organizations that fail to understand what influences them, do also fail in the long run.  This is because organizations with a focus on the science of organizational behavior are gaining a competitive advantage.

I have been tremendously helped by this article in my analysis of organizational culture, seeing that the author has written in very simple words the importance of understanding organizational culture.

McNamara, Carter. (1997). Organizational Culture. Management Help. Retrieved from http://www.managementhelp.org/aboutfml/what-it-is.htm. (16 February 2007).

“Organizational Culture” is an Internet article written by an MBA and PhD, who works for Authenticity Consulting, LLC.  Carter McNamara has written the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision, which the Internet article is adapted from.  This article provides simple definitions of culture and the different types of culture.  These definitions are especially for introductions to research papers on the subject.

This article has been a tremendous source of support for laying the foundation of my organizational culture analysis.  By defining culture in a simple way, the author made it convenient for me to incorporate the definition into an expanded analysis on the subject.

PR Newswire. (2006, December 12). Company Leaders Beware: Neglecting Organizational Culture May Pose Risks to Earnings, Growth and Shareholder Value.

“Company Leaders Beware: Neglecting Organizational Culture May Pose Risks to Earnings, Growth and Shareholder Value” is an important news report which describes quantitative data to support itself.  The report concentrates on the importance of organizational culture.  Additionally, it warns companies that have not thus far applied the science of organizational behavior to improve themselves.  The report clarifies the fact that organizational behavior science is a means to gain a competitive advantage in the organizational world today.

This news report was very useful because it gave me numerical figures to understand the difference between organizations that focus on their cultures versus those that do not.  Moreover, the report made it clear that organizational culture is very important for business success.

Shivers-Blackwell, Sheryl. (2006, June 22). The influence of perceptions of organizational structure & culture on leadership role requirements: The moderating impact of locus of control & self-monitoring. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies.

The author of “The influence of perceptions of organizational structure & culture on leadership role requirements: The moderating impact of locus of control & self-monitoring” has performed extensive research to understand the influence of the perception of organizational culture and structure on leadership role requirements.  The article, published in an academic journal, is very useful in understanding leadership styles to boot.  Moreover, the organizational structure with respect to the organizational culture is discussed.  This helps to clarify the reader’s understanding of organizational processes.

I have found this article very useful in relating leadership to my analysis of organizational culture.  I needed an understanding of the relationship between organizational culture and leadership.  This article filled the need.

Whitfield, Gwendolyn, and Landeros, Robert. (2006, September 22). Supplier diversity effectiveness: does organizational culture really matter? Journal of Supply Chain Management.

This scholarly article published in an academic journal discusses supplier diversity with reference to organizational culture.  The authors have conducted research to find out how supplier diversity must be managed to productively influence the organizational culture.  This article is also very useful because it provides excellent descriptions of the relationship of organizational culture with diversity.  Furthermore, it provides a base for further research on the subject.

This article helped me to understand the relationship between organizational culture and diversity.

Cite this Organizational Culture

Organizational Culture. (2016, Jun 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/organizational-culture/

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