Management , SPC
What is the nature and substance of organizational culture and why does it
Although difficult to define, organizational culture and its importance in today’s
business world play a vital and important role in the decision making of managers.
has become a phenomenon that lacks a concrete definition, as Handy (1985) wrote,
“culture cannot be defined, for it is something that is perceived, something felt.”
Interestingly, Brown (1994) provides an impressive list of 14 definitions for
“organizational culture” which in turn only emphasizes the concept that there is a wide
selection of understandings of what the trend actually is. What is less ambiguous
however, is the nature and substance behind the topic and its importance in the study of
Working in, or at least spending time with, a variety of different organizations
allows one to note the differences in atmospheres ; varying personalities, aims, freedoms
As a result of this experience, one might ask the question of whether
there is an ideal type of structure that encompasses optimum management.
answer to this issue would be a strong “no” as Handy (1985) explains that “the cultures
of organizations rightly differ, they are affected by a variety of factors, that these diverse
cultures are reflected in diverse structures and systems.”
Although aged management
theories would probably insist on an existence of one utopian perfect culture, modern
theorists have come to conclude that culture needs to suit the organization
Within organizations there are questions about how to organize work, distribute
power and allocate control.
Degrees of formalization, planning schedules, importance of
work hours and dress code are all part of the culture of an organization.
Surely the St
Peter’s college campus has a completely different culture than that of a trading floor at a
large investment bank.
Moreover, one should not be surprised to find differences in
culture even within single organizations.
The cafeteria at St Peter’s will employ a
different culture than the lecture halls. Rituals, values, traditions, language and a rich
history all play such a vital role in an organizations culture that a rule or guidebook
would be deemed obsolete.
The Japanese tend to embody this notion more than anyone
else – whether it is by having a Japanese company song, or implementing the ritual
physical exercises which not only keep the workforce healthy but also demonstrate a
sense of allegiance (Meek, 1988).
Although strong cultures tend to make strong
organizations, emphasis should be placed on the fact that not all cultures suit all
purposes or people.