Culture is a term that is used regularly in workplace discussions. It is taken for granted that we understand what it means. In their noted publication In Search of Excellence, Peters and Waterman (1982) drew a lot of attention to the importance of culture to achieving high levels of organisational effectiveness. This spawned many subsequent publications on how to manage organisational culture (eg. Deal & Kennedy 1982; Ott 1989; Bate 1994). If organisational culture is to be managed it helps first to be able to define it, for definitions of culture influence approaches to managing culture.
CULTURE IN A BROADER SOCIAL CONTEXT
In its very broadest sense, culture serves to delineate different groupings of people on the basis of the extent to which each group is perceived and perceives itself to share similar ways of seeing and interacting with the animate, inanimate and spiritual world (Benedict 1934; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck 1961; Trompenaars 1993). Australian culture, for example, may thus arguably be described as more similar to that of the United States of America than to that of Malaysia. Cultures are based in history, developing over time as groups establish patterns of behaviour and belief that seem effective in helping them to interpret and interact with the world in which they find themselves. Australian ‘mateship’ behaviour, for example, served early male white settlers in a harsh and sparsely populated world much better than the maintenance of the hierarchical class distinctions typical of the world from which they had come. From such new, adaptive patterns of behaviour arise new beliefs, such as a belief in egalitarianism. These new behaviours, values and beliefs, together with the associated rituals, myths and symbols that arise to support them, combine over time to establish and then to reinforce the core assumptions of the culture. In addition to providing implicit guidelines for behaviour and the channelling of...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document