Sociology Index

Organizational Culture

Edgar Schein was one of the most prominent theorists of organizational culture. The concept of organizational culture is a way to understand human systems. Each aspect of organizational culture can be seen as an important environmental condition affecting the system and its subsystems. Organizational culture is not the same as corporate culture. Organizational culture is wider with deeper concepts, something that an organization 'is' rather than what it 'has'. The examination of organizational culture is also a valuable analytical tool in its own right. This way of looking at organizations borrows heavily from anthropology and sociology and uses many of the same terms to define the building blocks of culture. There's a lot written about the concept of organizational culture, particularly in regard to learning how to change organizational culture. Corporate crime and organizational crime has given rise to an increasing interest in occupational crime and organizational culture.

Elements of organizational culture include:
values, member behavior, customs and rituals, history of the group, language used in and about the group, the feelings evoked by the way members interact with each other, with outsiders, and with their environment, including the physical space they occupy. Organizational culture describes the attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values of an organization. It has been defined as "the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization.

"beliefs and ideas about what kinds of goals members of an organization should pursue and ideas about the appropriate kinds or standards of behavior organizational members should use to achieve these goals. From organizational values develop organizational norms, guidelines or expectations that prescribe appropriate kinds of behavior by employees in particular situations and control the behavior of organizational members towards one another. - Charles W. L. Hill, and Gareth R. Jones, (2001) Strategic Management. Houghton Mifflin.

Morgan proposes four essential strengths of the organizational culture approach:

It focuses attention on the human side of organizational life, and finds significance and learning in even its most mundane aspects (for example, the setup in an empty meeting room).

It makes clear the importance of creating appropriate systems of shared meaning to help people work together toward desired outcomes.

It requires members to acknowledge the impact of their behavior on the organization's culture. Morgan proposes that people should ask themselves: What impact am I having on the social construction of reality in my organization? What can I do to have a different and more positive impact?

It encourages the view that the perceived relationship between an organization and its environment is also affected by the organization's basic assumptions.