Discuss the Postive and Negative Influences of Corporate Culture

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The culture of an organisation can be seen as a set of core characteristics that are collectively valued by all members of that organisation; and, corporate culture is believed to be a key element in the success of any organisation (Visagie et al. 2002). Schein (2004) emphasises that organisational cultures provide group members with a way of giving meaning to their daily lives, setting guidelines and rules for how to behave and most important, reducing and containing the anxiety of dealing with an unpredictable and uncertain environment. The aim of this paper is to provide a clear demonstration of appropriate theoretical frameworks in relation to corporate culture; with the concentration on analysing its positive and negative influences on the success of organisations in the hotel industry. To demonstrate some of the points, issues regarding the Disneyland Hotels will be used as examples.

As Schein states, “culture is both a dynamic phenomenon that surrounds us at all times, being constantly enacted and created by our interactions with others and shaped by leadership behaviour, and a set of structures, routines, rules and norms that guide and constrain behaviour.” (Schein, 2004, p.1). Corporate culture is one of the major issues in academic research and education, in organisational theory as well as in management practice, therefore many versions of definition of corporate culture can be found in the available literature.

Schein (1992) explains organisation culture as the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organisation, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic “taken for granted” fashion an organisation’s view of its self and its environment. Brown (1998) cites the work of Eldridge and Crombie (1974) who states that the culture of an organisation refers to the unique configuration of norms, values, beliefs, ways of behaving and so on that characterise the manner in which groups and individuals combine to get things done. The distinctiveness of a particular organisation is intimately bound up with its history and the character-building effects of past decisions and past leaders. It is manifested in the folkways, mores, and the ideology to which member defer, as well as in the strategic choices made by the organisation as a whole. Basically, organisation culture is often regarded as “the ways we do things around here.”

Interest in the concept of corporate culture has exploded in the past two decades. Researchers have approached the topic with a wide array of theoretical interests, methodological tools and definitions of the concept itself. Sorensen (2001) mentions that debate over fundamental issues of theory and epistemology is intense; and he cites that while some see attempts to measure corporate cultures and their effects on organisations as highly problematic (e.g., Martin, 1992; Siehl and Martin, 1990; Alvesson, 1993), a large body of research starts from the assumption that culture is a measurable characteristic of organisations (O’Reilly and Chatman, 1996). These studies do not seek to interpret the meaning of different organisational cultures, but rather focus on their consequences for organisational behaviour and processes (Sorensen, 2001, p.5).

One of the most important theories of corporate culture is that of Schein’s (2004), who provides a well known model which describes three levels of cultural phenomenon in organisations:

1) Artefacts - At the surface is the level of artefacts, which includes all the phenomena that one sees, hears and feels when one encounters a new group with an unfamiliar culture (Schein, 2004, p.25). Artefacts are the most visible and most superficial manifestations of a corporate culture (Brown, 1998). The category artefacts generally refers to the total physical and socially constructed environment of an organisation. These include the architecture of its physical environment; its language; its...
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