Professor Bruce Fortado
University of North Florida
What is an organization culture/philosophy
It should be kept in mind that there are a
number of different views.
Culture can be studied in three basically different ways.
(1) One can
look for the overall common themes.
(2) One can study the common themes in the various
component subcultures. (3) Lastly, one can study the varied interpretations of the same events
within a culture (learning by examining the variability rather than the common themes).
first approach is the most common, and the last is the least explored (Martin, 1992).
Before delving into organization culture specifically, one should first grasp what the term
culture refers to more generally.
Some anthropologists say a person cannot really understand
culture until one visits a foreign country.
Feeling like "a fish out of water" makes all the various
aspects of culture more apparent.
Typically one thinks of differences in language, dress, songs/
music, cuisine, art, rituals, religion, customs, mores, and so forth.
In general terms culture can
be thought of as accumulated knowledge
, what makes a group distinctive
, and patterns of belief,
values and action
Culture is often defined as being learned
, and adaptive
. Now we can think more specifically in terms of what culture means in
Can CEOs (presidents, top managers) easily and considerably manipulate the
culture of their organizations?
There is ample evidence in the literature, as well as managers'
comments and actions, indicating they believe they can do so (Moore, 1988).
Kurt Lewin talked
about considering the forces striving to maintain the status quo, and those pushing for change.
By weakening the forces supporting the status quo, or increasing the forces for change, one
could start a three step change process: namely, unfreezing, moving and refreezing (Dessler,
More recently, one is instructed to establish a sense of urgency, do a joint problem
diagnosis, create a coalition, develop a shared vision, communicate the vision, progressively
make changes, produce short-term wins, consolidate and anchor the changes, and finally monitor
the situation (Dessler, 2009: 180).
Elements of Organization Culture
How can one create shared values?
Many managers have spent large amounts of time and
resources on booklets, cards and pamphlets that outline the organization's espoused shared
values, superordinate goals, and/or slogans
(Schein, 1987; Dessler, 2009: 271).
IBM has stressed "respect for the individual" as one of the three core values it subscribes to.
Magnets may be created in the shape of a key, stating "quality is the key," and a foot stating "I