CMN 2148: Lecture #6 Oct 10 2012
Object of the Lecture: Halloween spider decoration
Organizations as Cultures:
Why the movement to a Culture as a metaphor?
Many scholars began to question the rational models of organizations:
Karl Weick[coined the term Retrospective Sense Making]; Andrew Pettigrew; Cohen, March & Olson;
Rationality: That decisions, mission statements, goals, etc. are planned, carefully considered, weighed to
achieve a certain outcome
Garbage Can Theory
(Cohen, March & Olson, 1972)
The Garbage Can Theory:
“An organization is a collection of choices looking for problems, issues and feelings looking for decision
situations in which they might be aired, solutions looking for issues to which they might be the answer and
decision makers looking for work” (Cohen, March & Olsen, 1972, p. 2).
As Weick (1976) says, organizing activities are “loosely coupled”.
We can see the role of chance, luck and sensemaking.
When they bump into each other in the garbage can, that is when a solution arises.
As Herbert Simon (1957) suggested we satisfice because we operate within “bounded rationality”
Example of Sense making:
In the Gods must be crazy , the bushmen must make sense of a coke bottle that is tossed out of an
airplane. Think it is a gift from the Gods, they make up all kinds of used for it. It ends up causing conflict,
greedy and envy.
Gun example Sense making, he thought that he saw the coke bottle and that’s why he ran away but in fact
it was because he was holding the gun.
Concepts of Organization Culture:
Linnda Smircich(1983) suggested that there are to main schools of though on organizational culture
1.Organizational culture as a variable key cultural attributes influence outcomes such as what is the impact of organizational culture on
productivity, worker satisfaction or other variable?
Something an organization has or has not. Its impact on something. Something’s impact on the culture.
How much culture there is.
Key organizational attributes culture such as what is the impact of flat hierarchal structure on organizational
2. Organizational culture as the essence of the organization( culture as sense making)
Culture IS the organization. Not very known, hidden culture
Interpretive research focused on understanding the culture.
What is Culture:
• Accepted and patterned ways of behaviour.
• Common understandings about what to think, feel, believe, do, etc.
• Physical manifestations of the group (clothing, shelter, tools, weapons, etc.)
• Patterns of shared values and beliefs that over time produce behavioral norms
adopted in solving problems (Hofstede, Neuijen, Ohayv & Sanders, 1990; Owens,1987).
What do discovery channel clips say about our culture?
We like music, we enjoy life, we have different interests, connected with each other (ideas, art, music,
Culture as a Social Construction:
• Clifford Geertz: The Interpretation of Cultures (1973)
• "The concept of culture I espouse. . . is essentially a semiotic one. Believing, with Max Weber, that
man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those
webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an