Organization Culture And Change Organizational culture – a popular but also a very complex concept – has been identified as an influential factor affecting the successes and failures of organizational change efforts. Organizational culture could be looked at as the pattern of shared valued, beliefs and assumptions considered being the appropriate way to think and act within an organization (Schneider, 1985).
In other words, culture: the pattern of shared values, beliefs and assumptions considered to be the appropriate way to think and act within an organization. – Culture is shared – Culture helps members solve problems – Culture is taught to newcomers – Culture strongly influences behavior Generally, this shared culture is invisible to the employees and their interpretations are viewed as something unique to the individual—their personal opinions.
People tend to surround themselves with others of like opinions and values, thus reinforcing their common beliefs and expectations. Where does organization culture come from? It comes from the Organization founder, vision and mission statement, past practices, Top management attitude and behavior and through socialization – the process that helps employees adapt to the organization’s culture more quickly and effectively.
People/ Employees of the organization learn culture through stories, narratives of significant events or actions of people that convey the spirit of the organization, rituals, repetitive sequences of activities that express and reinforce the values of the organization, material symbols, physical assets distinguishing the organization, language, acronyms and jargon of terms, phrases, and word meanings specific to an organization. Keeling (1981, p. 8), who offers that culture refers to an individual’s “theory of what his fellows know, believe and mean, his theory of the code being followed, the game being played, in the society into which he was born”. In a similar framework, Geertz (1973) views culture as a symbolic system (i. e. , shared codes of meaning) that reflects understandings shared by social actors. These definitions all imply that culture affects ways members think, feel, and act. According to Henry Mintzberg, “Culture is the soul of the organization — the beliefs and values, and how they are manifested.
I think of the structure as the skeleton, and as the flesh and blood. And culture is the soul that holds the thing together and gives it life force. ” There fore, culture is the social glue that helps and holds an organization together by providing appropriate standards for what employees should say or do. People who have worked in different organizations agree that each organization is different from the other organization. Things are not done the same way in everywhere in the organization. Even businesses within the same industry can be quite different from each other.
The difference is what management scholars call “organizational culture” or “corporate culture”. Therefore every organization has their own culture according to which they carry out their day-to-day activities and act and behave accordingly to it. Do Organizations have uniform culture? Schein (2009), Deal & Kennedy (2000), Kotter (1992) and many others state that organizations often have very differing cultures as well as subcultures. Dominant Culture: expresses the core values that are shared by a majority of the organization’s members.
Subcultures: mini cultures within an organization, typically defined by department designations and geographical separation. Core Values: the primary or dominant values that are accepted throughout the organization. Strong Culture: a culture in which the core values are intensely held and widely shared. Organizational culture is therefore different from national culture or ethnic culture. The national culture in which the business is based can however have some influence on that business’s organizational culture. Smircich (1983) has analyzed different conceptions of organizational culture in relation to the anthropological schools.
Organizational culture has been conceived either as a variable or as a root metaphor for conceptualizing organization. The studies can be divided into two areas; organizations have been regarded as cultures (‘is’ approach) or having a culture (‘has’ approach). It happens all too often. A company introduces changes with high expectations of improving performance. When the changes fail to take root and produce intended results, the unfulfilled hopes lead management to introduce other seemingly promising changes. These, too, ultimately fail.
The sequence repeats—an unending cycle of high expectations followed by failure and, inevitably, frustration on the part of management and cynicism on the part of workers. There are several possible reasons for these failures. One key reason is that changes introduced fail to alter the fundamental psychology or ‘‘feel’’ of the organization to its members, it is this ‘‘feel’’ that directs and motivates employee efforts (Guzzo and Shea, 1992). Without changing this psychology, there can be no sustained change. The main point is: organizations have people in them; if the people do not change, there is no organizational change.
Changes in hierarchy, technology, communication networks, and so forth are effective only to the degree that these structural changes are associated with changes in the psychology of employees. The primary mechanisms for both maintaining and changing an organization’s culture includes: 1. What managers pay attention to, measure and control? 2. The ways managers (particularly top management) react to critical incidents and organizational crises; 3. Managerial role modeling, teaching, and coaching; 4. The criteria for allocating rewards and status; and . The criteria for recruitment, selection, promotion, and removal from the organization. Managers should expect to encounter difficulty in clearly understanding situations that involve change. Analyzing a change problem can become quite complex because of the large number of variables that must be considered since there’s no way to stop change from happening, there are several positive steps to make a change program successful, including opening channels of communication, developing a learning environment, and providing training.
Even with open communication, careful planning, and extensive training, new program or idea may still meet with resistance. According to Schein, culture is the most difficult organizational attribute to change, outlasting organizational products, services, founders and leadership and all other physical attributes of the organization. His organizational model illuminates culture from the standpoint of the observer, described by three cognitive levels of organizational culture (Schein, 1992).
Culture change may be necessary to reduce employee turnover, influence employee behavior, make improvements to the company, refocus the company objectives and/or rescale the organization, provide better customer service, and/or achieve specific company goals and results. Culture change is impacted by a number of elements, including the external environment and industry competitors, change in industry standards, technology changes, the size and nature of the workforce, and the organization’s history and management. 3-Step Model This is often cited as Lewin’s key contribution to organizational change.
However, it needs to be recognized that when he developed his 3-Step model Lewin was not thinking only of organizational issues. Nor did he intend it to be seen separately from the other three elements, which comprise his Planned approach to change (i. e. Field Theory, Group Dynamics and Action Research). Rather Lewin saw the four concepts as forming an integrated approach to analyzing, understanding and bringing about change at the group, organizational and societal levels. A successful change project, Lewin (1947a) argued, involved three steps: . Step 1: Unfreezing.
Lewin believed that the stability of human behavior was based on a quasi-stationary equilibrium supported by a complex field of driving and restraining forces. He argued that the equilibrium need’s to be destabilized (unfrozen) before old behavior can be discarded (unlearnt) and new behavior successfully adopted. Given the type of issues that Lewin was addressing, as one would expect, he did not believe that change would be easy or that the same approach could be applied in all situations: The ‘unfreezing of the present level may involve quite different problems in different cases (Lewin, 1947a, p. 29). Enlarging on Lewin’s ideas, (Schein (1996, p. 27) comments that the key to unfreezing ‘. . . was to recognize that change, whether at the individual or group level, was a profound psychological dynamic process’. Schein (1996) identifies three processes necessary to achieve unfreezing: disconfirmation of the validity of the status quo, the induction of guilt or survival anxiety, and creating psychological safety. He argued that: ‘. . . unless sufficient psychological safety is created, the disconfirming information will be denied or in other ways defended against, no survival anxiety will be felt. nd consequently, no change will take place’ (Schein, 1996, p. 61). In other words, those concerned have to feel safe from loss and humiliation before they can accept the new information and reject old behaviors. . Step 2: Moving. As Schein (1996, p. 62) notes, unfreezing is not an end in itself; it ‘. . . creates motivation to learn but does not necessarily control or predict the direction’. This echoes Lewin’s view that any attempt to predict or identify a specific outcome from Planned change is very difficult because of the complexity of the forces concerned.
Instead, one should seek to take into account all the forces at work and identify and evaluate, on a trial and error basis, all the available options (Lewin, 1947a). However, as noted above, (Lewin (1947a) recognized that, without reinforcement, change could be short-lived. Step 3: Refreezing. This is the final step in the 3-Step model. Refreezing seeks to stabilize the group at a new quasi-stationary equilibrium in order to ensure that the new behaviors are relatively safe from regression.
The main point about refreezing is that new behavior must be, to some degree, congruent with the rest of the behavior, personality and environment of the learner or it will simply lead to a new round of disconfirmation (Schein, 1996). This is why Lewin saw successful change as a group activity, because unless group norms and routines are also transformed, changes to individual behavior will not be sustained. In organizational terms, refreezing often requires changes to organizational culture, norms, policies and practices (Cummings and Huse, 1989).
It is more difficult to change the culture of an existing organization than to create a culture in a brand new organization. When an organizational culture is already established, people must unlearn the old values, assumptions, and behaviors before they can learn the new ones. The two most important elements for creating organizational cultural change are executive support and training. . Executive support: Executives in the organization must support the cultural change, and in ways beyond verbal support. They must show behavioral support for the cultural change. Executives must lead the change by changing their own behaviors.
It is extremely important for executives to consistently support the change. Training: Culture change depends on behavior change. Members of the organization must clearly understand what is expected of them, and must know how to actually do the new behaviors, once they have been defined. Training can be very useful in both communicating expectations and teaching new behaviors. Other components important in changing the culture of an organization are: Create value and belief statements: use employee focus groups, by department, to put the mission, vision, and values into words that state their impact on each employee’s job.
For one job, the employee stated: “I live the value of quality patient care by listening attentively whenever a patient speaks. ” This exercise gives all employees a common understanding of the desired culture that actually reflects the actions they must commit to on their jobs. Practice effective communication: keeping all employees informed about the organizational culture change process ensures commitment and success. Telling employees what is expected of them is critical for effective organizational culture change.
Review organizational structure: changing the physical structure of the company to align it with the desired organizational culture may be necessary. As an example, in a small company, four distinct business units competing for product, customers, and internal support resources, may not support the creation of an effective organizational culture. These units are unlikely to align to support the overall success of the business. Redesign organization approach to rewards and recognition: needs to change the reward system to encourage the behaviors vital to the desired organizational culture.
Review all work systems such as employee promotions, pay practices, performance management, and employee selection to make sure they are aligned with the desired culture. Hofstede (1980) looked for global differences between over 100,000 of IBM’s employees in 50 different countries and three regions of the world, in an attempt to find aspects of culture that might influence business behavior. He suggested about cultural differences existing in regions and nations, and the importance of international awareness and multiculturalism for the own cultural introspection.
Cultural differences reflect differences in thinking and social action, and even in “mental programs”, a term Hofstede uses for predictable behavior. Hofstede relates culture to ethnic and regional groups, but also organizations, profession, family, to society and subcultural groups, national political systems and legislation, etc. Hofstede suggests of the need of changing “mental programs” with changing behavior first which will lead to value change and he suggests that however certain groups like Jews, Gypsies and Basques have maintained their identity through centuries without changing.
Hofstede demonstrated that there are national and regional cultural groupings that affect the behavior of organizations and identified four dimensions of culture (later five in his study of national cultures: Power distance (Mauk Mulder, 1977) – Different societies find different solutions on social inequality. Although invisible, inside organizations power inequality of the “boss-subordinates relationships” is functional and according to Hofstede reflects the way inequality is addressed in the society. According to Mulder’s Power Distance Reduction theory subordinates will try to reduce the power distance between themselves and their bosses and bosses will try to maintain or enlarge it”, but there is also a degree to which a society expects there to be differences in the levels of power. A high score suggests that there is an expectation that some individuals wield larger amounts of power than others. A low score reflects the view that all people should have equal rights. . Uncertainty avoidance is the coping with uncertainty about the future.
Society copes with it with technology, law and religion (however different societies have different ways to addressing it), and according to Hofstede organizations deal with it with technology, law and rituals or in two ways – rational and non-rational, where rituals being the non-rational. Hofstede listed as rituals the memos and reports, some parts of the accounting system, large part of the planning and control systems, and the nomination of experts. . Individualism vs. collectivism – disharmony of interests on personal and collective goals (Parsons and Shils, 1951).
Hofstede brings that society’s expectations of Individualism/ Collectivism will be reflected by the employee inside the organization. Collectivist societies will have more emotional dependence of members on their organizations, when in equilibrium – organization is expected to show responsibility on members. . Masculinity vs. femininity – reflect whether certain society is predominantly male or female in terms of cultural values, gender roles and power relations. . Long- Versus Short-Term Orientation which Hofstede describes as “The long-term orientation dimension can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue.
Societies with a short-term orientation generally have a strong concern with establishing the absolute truth. They are normative in their thinking. They exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results. In societies with a long-term orientation, people believe that truth depends very much on situation, context and time. They show an ability to adapt traditions to changed conditions, a strong propensity to save and invest, thriftiness, and perseverance in achieving results. Conclusion: Employees form an overall subjective perception of the organization based on such factors as degree of risk tolerance, team emphasis, and support of people. This overall perception becomes, in effect, the organization’s culture or personality. These favorable or unfavorable perceptions then affect employee performance and satisfaction, with the impact being greater for stronger cultures. Just as people’s personalities tend to be stable over time, so too do strong cultures. This makes strong cultures difficult for managers to change.
One of the more important managerial implications of organizational culture relates to selection decisions. Hiring individuals whose values don’t align with those of the organization is not good. An employee’s performance depends to a considerable degree on knowing what he should or should not do. Changing the organizational culture requires time, commitment, planning and proper execution – but it can be done. References: Henry Mintzberg Cultural and Environmental School of Thought culled www. mbaknol. com accessed Thursday11th April 2013. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of culture. New York: Basic Books.
Keeling, R. M. (1981). Theories of culture. In R. W. Casson (Ed. ), Language, culture and cognition (pp. 42- 66). New York: Macmillan. CHAPTER FORTY-ONE Creating a Climate and Culture for Sustainable Organizational Change Benjamin Schneider Arthur P. Brief Richard A. Guzzo (1996) Accessed on Thursday 11th April, 2013 http://media. johnwiley. com. au/product_ancillary/64/04702605/DOWNLOAD/chapter41. pdf B. Schneider, ‘‘Organizational Behavior,’’ Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 36, pp. 573–611, 1985. R. A. Guzzo and G. P. Shea, ‘‘Group Performance and Intergroup Relations in Organizations,’’ in M.
D. Dunnette and L. M. Hough (eds. ), Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2nd ed. , Vol. 3 (Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, 1992). Smircich, L. (1983): Concepts of Culture and Organizational Analysis. Administrative Science Quarterly: 28(3). Pp. 339-358. . . Cummings, T. G. and Huse, E. F. (1989). Organization Development and Change, 4th edition. St Paul, MN: West Publishing. Cummings, T. G. and Worley, C. G. (1997). Organization Development and Change, 6th edition. Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing. . Deal T. E. and Kennedy, A. A. 1982, 2000) Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1982; reissue Perseus Books, 2000 . . Hofstede, Geert (1980) Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values, Beverly Hills, CA, Sage Publications, reprinted 1984 . . Kotter, John and Heskett, James L. (1992) Corporate Culture and Performance, Free Press; ISBN 0-02-918467-3 . . Lewin, K. (1946). ‘Action research and minority problems’. In Lewin, G. W. (Ed. ), Resolving Social Conflict. London: Harper & Row. . . Lewin, K. (1947a). ‘Frontiers in group dynamics’.
In Cartwright, D. (Ed. ), Field Theory in Social Science. London: Social Science Paperbacks. . Mulder, Mauk (1977) The daily power game, Martinus Nijhoff Social Sciences Division Parsons, Talcott, Shils, Edward (1951), Toward a General Theory of Action, reprinted as Parsons, Talcott, Shils, Tolman, Stouffer and Kluckhohn et al. , Toward a General Theory of Action: Theoretical foundations of the Social Sciencies, Transaction Publishers, 2001 Ravasi, D. , Schultz, M. (2006), “Responding to organizational identity threats: exploring the role of organizational culture”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 433–458. Schein, E. H. (1996). ‘Kurt Lewin’s change theory in the field and in the classroom: notes towards a model of management learning’. Systems Practice, 9, 1, 27–47. Shein, Edgar (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership: A Dynamic View. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. p. 9. How to Change Your Culture: Organizational Culture Change You Can Transform Your Culture With Conscious Steps By Susan M. Heathfield, About. com Guide http://humanresources. about. com/od/organizationalculture/a/culture_change. htm
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