Organisational Culture

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The term organisational culture means many different things to many different people. Hofstede et al. (1990, p. 286) states that there is no consensus about the definition of organisational culture. In this essay, organisational culture will be discussed, focusing on defining and exploring it and how it impacts organisations. The essay will initially explore and discuss the constructs of organisational culture including the founder’s influence, the selection and socialisation processes that arise from these. Further, the essay will discuss the different levels of organisational culture, long with the different existent strengths and it will identify what a strong organisational culture is. And finally, the essay will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a strong organisational culture. To fully understand organisational culture, the ideas and writing of recognised practitioners should be considered. According to Schein (2004, p.17), organisational culture is defined as a ‘pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved it problems of external adaption and internal integration’. He goes on to note that this process had worked well enough as a solution to the issues and problems faced by that organisation that it is considered valid and is taught and passed on to new members as the accepted practice (Schein 2004, p.17). Hofstede (1990, p. 286) contends that most authors would probably agree organisational culture recognises, the following characteristics of organisational culture constructs: that it is 1) Holistic, 2) Historical, 3) Related to anthropology, 4) Socially constructed, 5) Soft and 6) Difficult to change, as one integrated construct. In contrast, while Schein points to a specific definition around accumulated shared learning, Hofstede rather contends that organisational culture is the six constructs of organisational culture, recognised as one integrated construct. The genesis of organisational culture is intrinsically linked and attributed to the founder’s philosophies and their strong personal visions of how things should be done. The involvement of the founder in the creation of organisational culture is described by Schein (2004, p.16), in part, ‘as a primary act of leadership where the founder’s personal vision, goals, beliefs, values and assumptions are imposed on the group’. Hence, the founder lays the path and shows the way, but the continued growth of the organisation and culture is not guaranteed by this primary act of leadership. In addition, the selection process including the founder’s influence on it and the leadership of top management are all critical factors in the ongoing growth and success of the organisation (Robbins 2011 p.471). Consequently, the selection process seeks to identify a candidate that has the job specific knowledge, skills and ability but most importantly, exhibits a relatively consistent values match to the organisation (Robbins et al. 2011 p. 471). Because the founder has such a strong influence on the culture, it is acknowledged that this also influences the selection process to the point where the candidate needs to be a consistent values match to the organisation. Subsequently, once selected, there is a three stage process of socialisation that the candidate progresses through; pre-arrival, encounter and genesis (Robbins et al. 2011 p.472 & 474, 475). The process of socialisation is an important factor in the continued maintenance and growth of the organisational culture. During the pre-arrival stage the candidate will have assumptions about the job and organisation and the selection process can be used to assist to address some of these. Next, the encounter stage is where the new team member is exposed to the realities of the job, co-workers, bosses and the inner workings of the organisation itself. If the selection process has been accurate, the new team member should overcome any issues with the assistance of co-workers and...
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