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Organizational Culture

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A Definition of Organizational Culture
Organizational culture refers to a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations. Seven primary characteristics seem to capture the essence of an organization’s culture

1. Innovation and risk taking
The degree to which employees are encouraged to be innovative and take risks.
2. Attention to detail
The degree to which employees are expected to exhibit precision, analysis and attention to detail.
3. Outcome orientation
The degree to which management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on the techniques and processes used to achieve them.
4. People orientation
The degree to which management decisions take into consideration the effect of outcomes on people within the organization.
5. Team orientation
The degree to which work activities are organized around teams rather than individuals.
6. Aggressiveness
The degree to which people are aggressive and competitive rather than easygoing.
7. Stability
The degree to which organizational activities emphasize maintaining the status quo in contrast to growth.

Creating and Sustaining Culture
An organization’s current customs, traditions, and general way of doing things are largely due to what it has done before and how successful it was in doing it. This leads us to the ultimate source of an organization’s culture: its founders. Free of previous customs or ideologies, founders have a vision of what the organization should be, and the firm’s small size makes it easy to impose that vision on all members. Culture creation occurs in three ways. First, founders hire and keep only employees who think and feel the same way they do. Second, they indoctrinate and socialize these employees to their way of thinking and feeling. And finally, the founders’ own behavior encourages employees to identify with them and internalize their beliefs, values, and assumptions. When the organization succeeds, the founders’ personality becomes embedded in the culture. Keeping a Culture Alive
Once a culture is in place, practices within the organization maintain it by giving employees a set of similar experiences. The selection process, performance evaluation criteria, training and development activities, and promotion procedures ensure those hired fit in with the culture, reward those who support it, and penalize those who challenge it. Three forces play a particularly important part in sustaining a culture: selection practices, the actions of top management, and socialization methods.

1. Selection
The explicit goal of the selection process is to identify and hire individuals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully. The final decision, because it’s significantly influenced by the decision maker’s judgment of how well the candidates will fit into the organization, identifies people whose values are essentially consistent with at least a good portion of the organizations.

2. Top Management
The actions of top management also have a major impact on the organization’s culture. Through words and behavior, senior executives establish norms that filter through the organization about, for instance, whether risk taking is desirable, how much freedom managers give employees, what is appropriate dress, and what actions earn pay raises, promotions, and other rewards.
3. Socialization
No matter how good a job the organization does in recruiting and selection, new employee's need help adapting to the prevailing culture. That help is socialization. For example, all Marines must go through boot camp, where they prove their commitment and learn the “Marine way.” New recruits go to an internal Web portal to learn about the company and engage in some activities that help them understand the culture of the organization. After they start work, they continue to learn about the organization through an ongoing social networking application that links new workers with more established members of the firm and helps ensure that culture is transmitted over time.

Why is culture important?
Culture can affect business outcomes in a number of ways, both positive and negative. For example, cultures that are not aligned with corporate strategy can lead to decreased loyalty, a lack of motivation, and high employee turnover. Healthy cultures, however, impart pride and a sense of purpose to employees, leading to increased productivity and a greater understanding of corporate goals, as with the employee at the car manufacturing plant. Strategy, operational performance, and culture are all strongly related. High-performing companies often view culture as an enabler of strategy and performance, and want to create a culture that will support and enable employees in achieving those goals.
Define and Establish Cultural Diversity
A typical organization has an extensive range of people who have cultural and personal differences. A small business interested in fostering cultural diversity among its employees endeavors to create mutual respect for the different cultures, along with enabling personnel to reach their full potential. Acknowledging diverse cultures enables the organization to positively influence the organizational behavior that, in turn, enhances the performance and image of the organization. The business should portray the cultural diversity aspect of the organization in the mission statement.

The Positive Influence of Cultural Diversity in Organizational Behavior
Cultural diversity involves the differences in the composition of members of an organization in terms of nationality, race, color, gender, creed, religion or age, in other words, an array of culture found among people from diverse backgrounds. Organizational behavior refers to the nature of interactions among people and groups within an organization. The positive influence of cultural diversity facilitates members of the organization to build relationships and acknowledge each other regardless of their differences of origin and background.

Transforming Organizational Behavior
The patterns of behavior in the organization are influenced by the nature of interactions and degree of diversity within the organization. The business, therefore, should seek to create an organizational culture that not only enhances the diversity of its workforce composition but also boosts individual performance. The positive influences of cultural diversity not only enable the organization to increase the scope of its reach the business also receives favorable exposure from every sector of the population due to its multicultural approach.

Sustaining Positive Influence Programs
Programs for positive influence should always be adjusted to suit the dynamic nature of interactions among people. Establish regular forums and educational programs in which participants are trained to be sensitive to and appreciate cultural diversity, as well as in maintaining desirable organizational behavior. Regularly post motivational quotes and messages of cultural diversity on public bulletin boards. Concentrate on creating programs that internalize cultural diversity into the organization's behavior.

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