Organizational Culture and Its Counterculture

Topics: General Motors, Culture, DeLorean DMC-12 Pages: 6 (2124 words) Published: December 2, 2010
1. The authors Joanne Martin and Caren Siehl are focusing on organizational culture and its counterculture. The definition given by the authors for counterculture states that counterculture will most likely arise in a strongly centralized organization that has allowed a reasonable decentralization of authority to take place. The article assumes that cultural systems can emphasize as well as sustain the objectives of the firm’s top management. The main argument here is that in addition to serving integrative functions, culture can express disagreement and address needs for segregation among organizational elements. As a replacement for thinking culture is a huge phenomenon, they explore counterculture’s uneasy symbiotic relationship with the rest of an organization. Finally they tackle the connection between cultural development and managerial action by asking what a leader does, unintentionally or intentionally, that seems to impact the development of a counterculture. Given said that when a dominant culture and a counterculture takes place it creates an uneasy symbiosis between these two interdependent cultures. There were two books selected for this research, one was by Ed Cray and the other was by J.P Wright on General Motors. The three core values for dominant culture in GM were “respecting authority”, “fitting in” and “being loyal”. J.P Wright talks about how DeLorean’s division in GM has created an uneasy symbiosis relationship between the dominant culture and counterculture. DeLorean’s activities have been studied to see how he has created a counterculture in an organization with such a strong dominant culture. There are several ways to counter the dominant culture and DeLorean has done so by “questioning deference to authority”, “finding an alternative way to fit in” and “opposing demands for unquestioning loyalty”.

2. There are three types of subcultures; the first is enhancing, orthogonal and counterculture. This article’s main focus will be on counterculture. According to the authors some core values of a counterculture has a direct challenge to the core values of a dominant culture, therefore creating an uneasy symbiosis. This article has taken two main authors as their references to explore the adequacy of a dominant culture and a counterculture and to find out what values those artifacts put across. The two main authors are Ed Cray, Chrome Colossus: General Motors and Its Times (McGraw-Hill, 1980) and J.P Wright’s description of DeLorean’s activities, On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors (Wright Enterprises, 1979). This article was done on General Motors, one of the main characters that was discussed in this article was on John DeLorean who was a head of one of the division’s in GM. DeLorean was a man who made his way up the corporate ladder which gave him a position of leadership, resources and power who in return questioned the dominant culture of GM. There were three main core values of GM that were discussed, the first is Respecting Authority: Jargon and Rituals of Deference. What happens in GM is that the dominant culture gives so much importance to paying reverence to the top corporate management; special jargon was used to refer to these executives. For example, each top manager was assigned a junior executive who will be an assistant, and these assistants were called “dog robbers” which meant an assigned servant who is responsible to pick up the dogs dropping in a large household. Another type of dominant culture artifact was the ritual, GM had many rituals, this is just one of the rituals; subordinates were expected to meet their superiors from out of the town at the airport and carry their bags, pay for their hotels, meals and chauffeur them around day and night. The second core value found in GM was Fitting In: Communicating Invisibility by Visible Cues. The core value of invisibility was expressed through such visible cultural artifact as dress and décor. An example GM’s dress code...
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