Adaptive Organizational Cultures

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Adaptive Organizational Cultures
When the organizational culture fits with the demands on it, it is more likely to be effective. When demands change, a strong culture may find it difficult to change itself to match the changes in its markets, its suppliers, technological developments, the economy, governments, and available personnel. Old commitments, values, traditions, regulations, and rites may get in the way of flexible demands on the organization for new solutions. Xerox pioneered the development of the personal computer but in 1974 its management could not appreciate a purpose for PCs in business On the other hand, if the strong culture is adaptive and flexible, it will contribute to the organization's effectiveness. Microsoft and Motorola are examples of firms with strong organizational cultures that are also highly adaptive. Since demands on most organizations are unlikely to be absolutely steady and stable, Kotter and Heskett ( 1992) found that "only cultures that can help organizations anticipate and adapt to . . . change will be associated with superior performance over long periods of time" (p. 44 ). The adaptive culture of Kotter and Heskett paralleled what Avolio and Bass ( 1991) designated a transformational culture. Of 12 adaptive firms studied by Kotter and Heskett during the period between 1976 and 1986, all seem to have been originated by transformational founders: Adolphus Busch at Anheuser-Busch, C. R. Smith at American Airlines, Sam Walton at Wal-Mart, Marion and Herbert Sandler at Golden West, Charles Sanford at Bankers Trust, Donald Kendall at PepsiCo, William Hewlett and David Packard at Hewlett-Packard, Michael Harper at ConAgra, Joseph Albertson at Albertson's, the Daytons at Dayton Hudson, and Elliot Springs at Springs Industries. In contrast to the leaders in most of the unadaptive firms, the leaders of the adaptive firms: got their managers to buy into a timeless philosophy or set of values that stressed both meeting constituency...
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