Types of Culture

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The Clan Culture

As Cameron and Quinn describe each culture in great depth in the context of for-profit companies, this paper will summarize the cultures and apply them to the foundation setting. Starting from the top left box of the quadrant, the Clan culture is one that is similar to a family-run organization. The culture is marked by “shared values and goals, cohesion, participativeness, individuality, and a sense of we-ness” (Cameron & Quinn, 1999, p. 36). One would find a great deal of teamwork in these organizations, and a significant commitment to foster inclusion and having everyone’s voice heard. This culture might sound very appealing to foundation management. It might mirror the foundation’s values of inclusion and humility at every level. A Clan culture reflects a high value placed on flexibility and a strong internal focus. However, a foundation that finds itself squarely in this category might be failing to learn from communities and other stakeholders. Clan cultures are more successful when the business environment is largely stable. For example, a company that intends on providing the same service year after year does not need to consult with its consumers on a daily basis. What it needs to do is reduce its labor and training costs. A Clan culture will do this, as employees are likely to take lower pay and stay around longer if they are receiving the emotional and social support that a Clan culture provides. A foundation must be internally focused enough to provide a level of participation among staff and to mirror its values of inclusiveness, but this focus must be counterbalanced by a commitment to also be outwardly focused and learn lessons that only community members and other external stakeholders can offer.

The Adhocracy Culture

The Adhocracy culture is one that values innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, and adaptability. Companies that succeed within the Adhocracy model are those that must change direction with little warning, rely on individual risk taking, and exist in a very dynamic environment. Cameron and Quinn offer examples such as aerospace, software development, think-tank consulting, and filmmaking. Effective management in this type of organization requires the ability to transform the stress that often accompanies uncertainty into a love for creativity and surprise. Individuals who succeed in these environments are those who are more concerned with being innovative than in being successful every time.

The Adhocracy culture would, from the outset, seem like a perfect fit for a foundation. While it is true that a foundation that functions with this type of culture may be very successful in spearheading innovative initiatives that create long-term change, foundation managers might want to pay attention to several potential pitfalls that this culture will create, namely the fact that innovative, long-time-horizon interventions might be more motivating to senior management than it is to rank-and-file staff members, and the fact that innovative practices might not align with the values originally envisioned by the grantor or the converting non-profit.

The Adhocracy Culture might motivate foundation management who are looking to the long-term, but it will not motivate the staff members who are working in a charitable environment because they are looking for the rewarding experience of being of service to individuals. While it could be argued that these types of workers should find employment in a public charity that provides direct service, management should not discount the large numbers of employees who are interested in creating societal solutions, and want to experience what if feels like to see the benefits immediately. While foundation staff should encourage the innovation that an Adhocracy requires, it must also realize that it will need to provide short-term “wins” for employees.

The Adhocracy model would most likely be very attractive to...
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