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An Overview of Organizational Culture

Organizational Culture is the most recent method of studying companies and other organizations, but there have always been studies of such groups, in an effort to determine how and why they succeed/or don’t.

Today, there are many, many definitions of organizational culture and many articles and books have been written on the subject. The basic conclusions of most are that it refers to the behaviours, values, ethics and beliefs of a group of participants at a given time and place.

Almost all of us are involved in an organizational culture, be it our country, ethnic group, religious group, work place, or social club. However, in the professional world this term is used to examine and understand the culture of a business.

If you look at a business you know (perhaps one you think is trustworthy), you will see the outward displays of it’s culture. Things like logos, office buildings or factories, dress codes, or even parking spaces.

If you could look deeper, however you would find there may be many cultures in the one culture. Organizational cultural differences could be between different divisions of the company. For example, differences could exist between the engineering staff and the manufacturing staff, and if the differences are great enough, it could impede communication between them.

New employees entering a company can see many of the cultural displays and can be taught many of the cultural behaviours, but sometimes, there are values held by the existing participants that they, themselves, do not know are there. This is the most difficult part of organizational culture to understand and often the lack of knowledge about these underlying values is what can cause the defeat of new and innovative ideas.

It is essential that management, especially those leaders who wish to change the existing culture, learn all they can of the unconscious values held by the employees.

Changing the culture of an organization is not a task to be viewed lightly. It can take several years of gradual change, but it can be done and many companies like Chrysler have turned their organizations in a totally different direction, increasing profit and stability.