Describing the Social and Cultural Dimensions in My Organization

Topics: Culture, Cultural anthropology, The Culture Pages: 6 (1975 words) Published: April 16, 2012
Describe the social and cultural dimensions in your organization.

Social and cultural theories strive to explain how people relate to each other and/or the surrounding environment. Organizational culture represents a common perception held by the organization’s member. This was made explicit when we defined culture as a system of shared meaning. Therefore, those individuals with different backgrounds or at different levels in the organization will tend to describe the organization’s culture in similar terms.

Most large organizations have a dominant culture and numerous sets of subcultures. A dominant culture expresses the core values that are shared by a majority of the organization’s members. When we talk about an organization’s culture, we are referring to its dominant culture. It is this macro view of culture that gives an organization its distinct personality.

Subcultures tend to develop in large organizations to reflect common problems, situations, or experiences that members face. These subcultures are likely to be defined by department designations and geographical separation. The purchasing department, for example, can have a subculture that is uniquely shared by members of that department. It will include the core values of the dominant culture plus additional values unique to members of the purchasing department. Similarly, an office or unit of the organization that is physically separated from the organization’s main operations may take on a different personality. Again, the core values are essentially retained but modified to reflect the separated unit’s distinct situation.

If organizations had no dominant culture and were composed only of numerous subcultures, the value of organizational culture as an independent variable would be significantly lessened because there would be no uniformity in the interpretation of the values that represented appropriate and inappropriate behavior. It is the “shared meaning” aspect of culture that makes it such a potent device for guiding and shaping values in the cultural behavior. But it is not to be ignored that the reality which many organizations contained also has subcultures that can influence the behavior of their members. THEORIES AND PERSPECTIVE

The field of sociology focuses on cultures that are ethnically or geographically defined. However, the study of any culture is referred to as “a group of people who work (or play) together and journey towards a shared meaning and assumption”(Griswold, p.133).

Griswold (1994) also shared that “culture” is one of those words that people use all the time but have trouble defining. Peterson (1979) states that when sociologists talk about culture, they usually mean one of four things: norms, values, beliefs, or expressive symbols. Norms are the way people behave in a given society; values are what people hold dear; beliefs are how people think the universe operates and expressive symbols are representations of the culture.

Moreover, Lincoln and Kalleberg (1990) hold that “the quality of relationships between workers and their co-workers is positively associated with commitment and satisfaction.” If the people within a school do not connect and work together toward a common goal or passion, the culture is said to be stagnant or unproductive.

Lincoln and Kalleberg provide three models of organizations. The consensus model holds shared goals and values within an organization that are the norm and dissidence is a problem requiring correction. The cleavage model has distinct groups within an organization that have different interests, especially fault lines that exist between job levels. The fragmentation model shows that are riddled with ambiguity where people hold multiple perspectives. It is plausible that most working environment can fall under all three models or have factions of each model within one department. PRACTICE

I am now attached with SMK (P) Methodist, Pulau Pinang as an operational...
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