Organizational Culture

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MM2021: Managament & Organization
Individual Essay on
Does a strong organizational culture increase the performance of a firm? Illustrate a real-life example to support your arguments.

In tackling the above question, we shall first have a brief understanding about organizational culture. To introduce, organizational culture is a way that employees, as well as managers, generally perceive, think, and react to the environment, such as working environment and customer environment. (Schein, 1996, as cited in Hartnell, Ou and Kinicki, 2011) For example, Disneyland, having a strong organizational culture of positiveness, happiness and hominess, its organizational members tend to think optimistically (as symbolized by the Disneyland philosophy of “Create dreams”), collectively (with high desire for group consensus) and treat internal and external incidents leniently, such as employee mistakes or visitors conflict.

Besides, organizational culture are predefined beliefs, values and goals recognized by its members. Values refer to judgment of organizational members of what is important or right while believes refer to the method and style of working in an organization (Bro Uttal, 1983, as cited in Sun, 2008). Taking the main research subject as example, Google, featuring high degree of organization culture informality, has deeply held values of high staff density, with goals that staff works closely in team, actively share own ideas and devote intense emotion and energy upon the team. (British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2007)

Nonetheless, relationship between members and culture of an organization is not unidirectional. Instead, they are correlated, affected by each other, considering possibility of managers or subordinates having believes and values contradicting to, or at least, differing from those held by the initial organizational culture. This phenomenon is commonly found in case of mergers and acquisitions, in which two organizations are merged together, causing massive change to the existing employee profile, resulting in a “digested” culture that possesses different values, believes from the initial one. (Schmidt, 2003) To continue, organizational culture, as being collectively possessed by members, is in other words shared among organizational members, no matter of their positions. (Shili Sun, 2008) Its attributes, such as values and believes, are shared top-down or laterally. For the former, organizational culture is shared through leaders, or managers, by means of rituals established by them. Rituals, can be simple practices that can let followers experience and understand the essence of organizational culture. For instance, Google management shares value of creativity among the organization, by promoting casual dress code as well as fun leisure activities, like roller hockey and video games in recreational amenities, which are built throughout Googplex headquarter of Google. (British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2007) (Yahoo) For another example, top management of Google has adopted to the grouplet scheme, and granted 20% of total work hours for personal interests and ideas of engineers. During these hours, employees work with like-minded colleagues in team, and pursue their own goals. In this way, top managers share their values of risk taking, innovativeness and freedom with subordinates, as they engage in self decision-making and problem solving with no direct control from top management during these 20% hours. (New York Times, 2007)

Furthermore, for lateral sharing of organizational culture, subordinates themselves can share their perceptions about values and believes themselves, especially if the organization is in team structure, which synergizes individual contribution into group work. Operations of such a structure involve heavily upon close relationship, interaction and cooperation between staff, which foster more intense lateral sharing of organizational culture with...
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