Organisational Culture and Ways of Managing It Effectively

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Organisational culture has been widely researched over the years because of the important benefits that arise from a strong culture in aiding organisations to succeed and grow. Understanding how to ‘build, maintain or modify an organisation's culture' (McAleese, D & Hargie, O. 2004 p.155) is essential to achieving a competitive advantage as organisations can have a direct influence on attitudes and behaviours of the employees within an organisation. (Robbins, Millett, Cacioppe & Waters-Marsh, 2001)

Definitions

There is a ‘great diversity of opinion concerning what the phrase ‘organisational culture' refers to' (Brown, A. 1995 p.5), as organisations have their own way of expressing the values and goals that the employees and organisations share. (McAleese, et al. 2004) As a result, how organisational culture is defined has significant implications for how the concept is analysed. (Brown, A. 1995)

Brown (1995 p.6) defined organisational culture as ‘the pattern of beliefs, values and learned ways of coping with experience that have developed during the course of an organisation's history, and which tend to be manifested in its material arrangements and in the behaviours of it's members.'

Robbins et al. (2001, p.555) defined organisational culture in terms of certain characteristics that the organisation and its members value in order to create a successful working environment. These include innovation and risk taking, attention to detail, focus on outcomes, consideration for members within the organisation, team orientation, aggressiveness and competitiveness and emphasise on stability or growth. (Robbins et al. 2001) The degree to which employees display these characteristics will therefore shape the organisations culture.

Functions

There are a number of functions that have been attributed to organisation culture, for example it enables organisations to be distinguished between one another or can suggest a sense of identity for the members of the organisation. (Robbins et al. 2001) One particular function of culture is to improve ‘social system stability', (Robbins et al. 2001. p. 563) or reduction of conflict as it allows employees to create a consensus on the organisations mission and goals and to develop strategies in order to achieve these goals and also guides employees on how to communicate with each other. (Brown, A. 1995) Culture also facilitates co-ordination and control within an organisation by guiding and shaping ‘attributes and behaviour of employees'. (Robbins et al. 2001. p. 563) Culture can also be seen to aid in reducing complexities, uncertainties and conflicts of interest that are generally faced with by all organisations. (Brown, A. 1995)

Organisational culture can act as an ‘important source of motivation for employees' (Brown, A. 1995. p.58) that can directly affect organisations efficiency. As theories have emphasised ‘employees are motivated when they find their work meaningful and enjoyable' and ‘feel valued and secure.' (Brown, A. 1995. p.59) A strong culture can encourage employees to believe they are performing well and their positions are valuable to the organisation and hence creating a sense of belonging which will directly effect employee's motivation. (Brown, A. 1995) All of these different functions of organisational culture will act as a source of competitive advantage for the organisation.

Types

There have been a number of different types of cultures depending on the particular environments that are evident within organisations such as power-oriented, role-oriented, task-oriented and people-oriented cultures. (Brown, A. 1995, Thomas, A. & Lindsay, D. 2003) Each of these types requires ‘different types of behaviours, leaders, decision styles, controls and organisation designs.' (Roberts, G.B, Watson, K & Oliver, J. E. 1989 p.67)

A power-oriented culture takes on a hierarchical approach in managing the organisation. An attribute of a...
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