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Corporate Culture reading.docx

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Dave Swanston

2014-03-21 Reading: Corporate Culture What Is Organizational Culture? • Organizational Culture: The values and assumptions shared within an organization. • Organizational culture directs everyone in the organization toward the “right way” of doing things. • It frames and shapes the decisions that managers and other employees should make and the actions they should take. • Organizational culture consists of two main components: shared values and assumptions. SHARED VALUES • Values o are stable, evaluative beliefs that guide our preferences for outcomes or courses of action in a variety of situations. o They are conscious perceptions about what is good or bad, right or wrong. V o alues tell us what we “ought” to do. o They serve as a moral compass that directs our motivation and potentially our decisions and actions. o Everyone has values because they partly define who we are as individuals and as members of groups with similar values. o People organize the dozens of values into a hierarchy or value system. • Shared values o are values that people within the organization or work unit have in common and place near the top of their hierarchy of values. • The key distinction managers need to consider is whether they are referring to espoused values or enacted values o Espoused values  represent the values people say they use and, in many cases, think they use even if they don’t. Values are socially desirable, so people create a positive public image by claiming to believe in values that others expect them to embrace o Enacted values  represent the values people actually rely on to guide their decisions and actions. These values in use are apparent by watching people in action. An organization’s culture consists of these enacted values, not espoused values SHARED ASSUMPTIONS o are unconscious perceptions or beliefs that have worked so well in the past that they are considered the correct way to think and act toward problems and opportunities o they are so obviously good and right for the company that no one really thinks about or questions them • shared assumptions are the most difficult to change CONTENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE • Organizations differ in their cultural content—that is, the relative ordering of values and assumptions. • Managers like to use these organizational culture models because they are handy templates when figuring out what kind of culture they currently have and what kind of culture they want to develop. • models oversimplify the diversity of cultural values in organizations ORGANIZATIONAL SUBCULTURES • organizational culture, refers to the dominant culture: the values and assumptions shared most widely by people throughout the organization • organizations also have subcultures located throughout their various divisions, geographic regions, and occupational groups • Subcultures enhance the dominant culture by espousing parallel assumptions, values, and beliefs. • As long as the goals are important to the overall organization the subculture’s values should be compatible, but the priorities of values may be somewhat different • Subculture motive: o maintain the organization’s standards of performance and ethical behaviour o The spawning grounds for emerging values that keep the firm aligned with the needs of customers, suppliers, society, and other stakeholders. • Other subcultures are called countercultures because they directly oppose the organization’s core values. o potentially create conflict and dissent among employees o Employees who hold countercultural values are an important source of surveillance and critique over the dominant order o They encourage constructive conflict and more creative thinking about how the organization should interact with its environment o Deciphering an Organization’s Culture • organizational culture needs to be deciphered through artifacts • Artifacts o are the observable symbols and signs of an organization’s culture o the essence of corporate culture o symbols or indicators of culture o represent the best source of information about a company’s culture o reinforce and potentially support changes to an organization’s culture • Discovering organizational culture through: o observing workplace behaviour, o listening for unique language in everyday conversations, o studying written documents, o interviewing staff about corporate stories • Surveys can reveal some information about a company’s culture, but managers should not rely on that information alone to understand the company’s culture • they recommend a combination of surveys and painstaking assessment of many artifacts • Four broad categories of artifacts are o organizational stories and legends, o rituals and ceremonies, o organizational language, o physical structures and symbols ORGANIZATIONAL STORIES AND LEGENDS o Stories and legends articulate the values of the organization through the demonstration of these values o Not all stories and legends are positive. Some are communicated to demonstrate what is wrong with the dominant corporate culture o Stories are important artifacts because they personalize the culture and generate emotions that help people remember lessons within these stories o Stories have the greatest effect at communicating corporate culture when they describe real people, are assumed to be true, and are remembered by employees throughout the organization. o Stories are also prescriptive—they advise people what to do or not to do RITUALS AND CEREMONIES o Rituals are the programmed routines of daily organizational life that dramatize an organization’s culture o Ceremonies are more formal artifacts than rituals. o Ceremonies are planned activities conducted specifically for the benefit of an audience, such as publicly rewarding (or punishing) employees or celebrating the launch of a new product or newly won contract ORGANIZATIONAL LANGUAGE o The language of the workplace speaks volumes about the company’s culture. o How employees address coworkers, describe customers, express anger, and greet stakeholders are all verbal symbols of cultural values PHYSICAL STRUCTURES AND SYMBOLS o The size, shape, location, and age of buildings might suggest the company’s emphasis on teamwork, environmental friendliness, flexibility, or any other set of value Is Organizational Culture Important? o companies with strong cultures are more likely to be successful, but only under a particular set of conditions o effect of organizational culture depends partly on its strength o Corporate culture strength refers to how widely and deeply employees hold the company’s dominant values and assumptions. o strong cultures tend to be long-lasting o can be traced back to the beliefs and values established by the company’s founder o A strong corporate culture potentially increases the company’s success by serving three important functions o Control system  culture is a deeply embedded form of social control that influences employee decisions and behaviour  As a control system, culture is pervasive and operates unconsciously o Social glue  Organizational culture is the “social glue” that bonds people together and makes them feel part of the organizational experience  Employees are motivated to internalize the organization’s dominant culture because it fulfills their need for social identity o Sense making  helps employees understand what goes on and why things happen in the company.  Corporate culture also makes it easier for them to understand what is expected of them and to interact with other employees who know the culture and believe in it ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE STRENGTH AND FIT o studies have found only a modestly positive relationship between culture strength and
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