What is an Organization?

According to Weber, an organization is “A social membership which limits or closes admissions of outsiders by rules…..so far as its order is enforced by the action of specific individuals.” An organization provides a common platform where individuals from different backgrounds come together to perform various tasks and activities to achieve certain objectives and targets. These individuals with different educational qualifications, different specializations and work experience come together and work towards common organizational goal.

Employees are the major asset of an organization. It is therefore required that employees should be serious, honest, hardworking, determined, loyal and strive hard in strengthening the brand image. Without the valuable contribution of employees, an organization cannot succeed and achieve its goals and objectives. An organization is bound to suffer if its employees lack work attitude and work only just to make money. It is therefor important for an organization to look after the goals of its employees and see how it can align their goals with its own goals.

Organization_Culture

What is Culture?

As the leading contributor of theory or organizational culture, Edgar Schein defined culture as “….a pattern of basic assumptions – invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaption and internal integration – that has worked well enough to be considered valid, and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to the problems.

Does it sounds complex? Not so if you look at this way:

You are familiar with importance of pattern – say patterns of traits in an individual personality. Single characteristics, such as consciousness can be found in so many individuals, but what sets one person apart form others is the combination created by scores of different strengths of different traits. In a way, what personality is to a individual; a culture is to an organization.

Basic assumptions form the bedrock of organizational culture. Schein proposed a model of organizational culture where the basic assumptions shape values and the values shape practices and behavior, which is the visible of the culture.

What is Organizational Culture?

Organizational culture refers to the way things are done in an organization. The shared belief that ‘this is or way of ding things’ that others do not have – often also translates as ‘this is the right way to do things’ because though different social groups might encounter the same kinds of basic problems, due to their circumstances, they find solutions that are effective in their specific context.

Thus, what solution helps that organization grow, survive, secure resources, compete effectively; is considered effectively; is considered valuable enough to be passed in to the new members of the group.  Culture evolves due to influences from both, within the group a well as outside the group.

Feldman (1988) defined organizational culture as ” a set of meanings created within organization but influenced by broader social and historical processes. Organizational members use these meanings – norms, roles, plans, ideals and ideas – to make sense out of the flow of actions and events they experience.”

Recognizing Culture in an Organization

Most authors studying organizational culture from various perspectives might agree on the following characteristics of organizational or corporate culture, even if they do not agree on a single definition.

1. Culture is holistic concept that integrates different ideas and constructs into a meaningful whole,

2. It is historically determined on the basis of transactions between people, given a context, in the sense that no culture can be planted in one day

3. It is related to anthropological concepts, in the sense that culture in an organization is not free from the influence of national culture. In fact, national culture is believed to have a more powerful impact on behavior than the organizational culture

4. It is socially constructed, in the sense that culture cannot be a product of a single person’s efforts or perceptions

5. It is soft, and

6. It is difficult to change

A common approach to understanding the culture of an organization has been to identify artifacts of a culture, such as the unique symbols, heroes, rites and rituals, myths, ceremonies, and sagas of an organization, and then to explore, to a greater or lesser extent, the deeper meanings of these artifacts. These deeper meanings become clearer by identifying the common shared beliefs as well as the assumptions that support these beliefs.

In order to understand the culture of an organization in its full richness, three levels must be understood: artifacts, values and basic assumptions. In order to grasp the essence of culture in any organization, one need to probe deep enough to access the deepest, fundamental, yet largely taken-for-granted part. The values are more talked about and artifacts are more visible manifestations of these deeper and often unconscious  beliefs or assumptions.

Two Types of Organizational Culture

Organizational cultures also have traits, just like the personality of an individual. It is believed that organizations that have effective culture outperform their rivals. That is great news for managers because they can identify pro-performance values and develop, communicate and reinforce them throughout the organization.

1. Strong Culture: A strong culture represents the core values of the organization that are valid and essential to the organization, irrespective of functional specialization. They can also represent highest or topmost priorities, as well as provide guidance over subordinate matters such as ethical standards. If a strong culture prevails across an organization, in case of clash between subculture values and the strong culture, the dominant values are to be upheld.

2. Weak Culture: Weak culture – a conceptual opposite of strong culture – implies that there is no congruence between the values of top management and employees of the organization. The absence of this organization may be because the desired values have not been articulated, or there is a contradiction or conflict between the various elements of culture, or the organizational values and interests and the values of the individual employees are counter to each other.

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Sonia Kukreja

I am a mother of a lovely kid, and an avid fan technology, computing and management related topics. I hold a degree in MBA from well known management college in India. After completing my post graduation I thought to start a website where I can share management related concepts with rest of the people.
Sonia Kukreja