Culture is about how a firm organises itself; rules, procedures and beliefs make up the culture of
Culture may be defined as: “the sum total of the beliefs, knowledge, attitudes of mind and
customs to which people are exposed in their social conditioning.
Through contact with a particular culture, individuals learn a language, acquire values and learn
habits of behaviour and thought.”
Types of organisational culture
(i) Power Culture
Decisions are made by one or a small number of people.
Power cultures are usually found within small organisations or a section/department belonging to
a large organisation. This is because it would be difficult to run a large organisation where only a
small number of people were allowed to make decisions.
In a power culture organisation, decisions can be made quickly as there is little consultation.
The success of a power culture firm will depend on the strength of the decisions made by its
(ii) Role Culture
In a Role Culture organisation, individuals are assigned a specific role or job.
They may have a job description listing the tasks they are responsible for.
Role culture enables organisations to spread tasks among their employees and ensure key tasks
are covered without unnecessary duplication. This is particularly useful for specialist roles e.g.
sales, marketing, project management and legal compliance. Specialist roles should increase
productivity as employees are completing tasks they are fully trained and experienced to do.
However a role culture may be unsuitable for organisations with a small number of employees
where everyone needs to be taking on a variety of tasks and responsibilities.
Furthermore a role culture organisation may find it difficult to adapt, if its staff are controlled by
tight systems and procedures.
1 (iii) Task Culture
Task culture refers to the use of teams to complete tasks especially if the task/objective has a
number of steps.
The establishment of project teams for the completion of specific objectives/plans is an example
of task culture.
Project teams will be set specific tasks to complete within a set timescale and budget.
Atask culture has a number of benefits
- Staff feels motivated because they are empowered to make decisions within their
- They may feel valued because they have selected for the team and there is a sense
of achievement when the team complete the task successfully.
- It may also allow teams to be more creative when problem solving.
(iv) Person Culture
Person culture organisations focus on the people working within the organisation as they rely on
the specialist knowledge of the workforce.
Person cultures are found in organisations where there is an opportunity for employees to
develop their career and skills.
Examples include universities where staff can continue their education throughout their
Person cultures also include legal and accountancy firms, as the organisation is selling the
specialist skill of its staff; this creates a need for staff to undergo continuous professional
(v) Forward (Entrepreneurial) Looking Culture
Organisations that have an entrepreneurial spirit, embrace change and take risks, are said to be
Entrepreneurial businesses can have short life span because they take risks but they can also
expand rapidly if their innovative approach is successful.
Entrepreneurial businesses are centered around profit and make the most of their staff through a
task culture approach.
(vi) Backward (Bureaucratic) Looking Cultures
Abackward looking culture does not embrace change and is led by systems and procedures.
2 They do not like taking risks and are therefore less adaptable.
Bureaucratic culture organisations are often hierarchical and likely to have non commercial aims.
Lack of risk taking and flexibility can increase longevity, especially if the organisation is a public
service organisation but it can also be the reason why long standing commercial businesses
suddenly go into administration.
Influences on organisation’s culture
• The founding principles of the organisation
• Afounding family involvement or a tie-in to some particular set of values.
• The organisation will tend towards adoption of the role culture if it is big.