The two sections of interest from the OBS module are observations into the concepts of organisational culture and scientific management of work design. I will look at the challenges posed to the theories of these areas and use my interaction with my employer (Tesco) to provide concise first person examples.
Organisational culture can be seen as a backbone of a company, however as the tangible aspects of it are barely visible it can be hard to derive theories from practice. Looking at the meaning of organisational culture: "The culture of an organisation is made up of traditions, habits, ways of organising and patterns of relationships at work"(C Molander & Winterton 1994), further explained it is the feeling created with an organisation, the 'climate' and 'energy' within the people of the workplace and its environment. It shows focus on the values and norms of how things are done and approached in organisations, the patterns of order and task completion. The are three levels of culture according to Shein (1992), cultural artifacts, values and basic assumptions, with cultural artefacts being the only tangible, visible one, embedding such things as traditions, logos and the type of people within it. The values aspect depicts the group thought and their expectation of the future, this being a covert aspect as it can only be unearthed through detailed investigation. Basic assumptions being even more covert as it entails looking into the actual psyche of the individual, what they believe of the world, "(is there such thing as a universal, timeless human truth or reality or do we live in dynamic worlds that are largely of our own making?) (Joana Brewis 2007, p.348).
There are two underlining approaches to organisational culture that researchers in this field categorise, one is that culture is something that an organisation 'has' and the other is that culture is something that the organisation 'is'. The 'has' approach explains that culture is derived from a set plan, changed and moulded by the managers to a specific degree of freedom and control to achieve the 'one best' way of functioning, Peters and Waterman (1982). This is a mainstream approach and is used by many large companies that try to create a good environment and effective culture. The 'is' approach explains that culture is organic, organisation's culture builds from the individuality of the people and physical forces within it, as a process over time, without conscious plan.
The first challenge posed for the two theories is distinguishing them within the organisation. The mainstream approach is the most recognised and researched approach, most large companies would desire to use this approach and develop the culture from scratch so that it functions solely for the organisations needs. However even when it does do its best at achieving this, the natural problems that an organisation can encounter may hinder the cultural equilibrium. My evidence comes from my employment with a huge supermarket chain Tesco, as a year long employee of this company and working on many different departments throughout the lower end of the chain. Tesco carries out the 'has' belief similarly, with employing many ways to counter the need for control of culture. A set list of required behaviour titled as 'expectations' is presented to the employee where they have to agree to the terms set. This is an official outlined code of conduct, that categorises the culture of the organisation and expects the employee to abide and follow. This can be seen as a form of cultural engineering (Jackson and Carter,2000, p.p 27-28), narrowing down the range of decisions an employee can choose to reach the required goal. This is also seen as the corporate culture, the official way of doing things, but as in all organisations, there is also the organisational culture, the way things are actually done, this may differ greatly...