Organizational culture is defined as collective behavior that consists of artifacts, exposed values and basic assumptions (Schein 1997). From this definition, three levels of organizational culture are derived. The first level is artifacts or tangible elements to the organization which comprises of the architecture, technology, products, furniture, style, dress code and language. It is recognizable when visibly observed but does not reflect the organizational culture.
The second level is in the exposed values or beliefs that employees express in organization which includes the mission statement, customer service and loyalty. This behavior can be studied by using surveys and discussion to gather attitudes of the organizations’ members. The third level is the basic assumption which is the most important level as it shapes the organization’s view and decision making.
The norms or the unspoken rule exists without the awareness of the members which cannot be observed or surveyed and therefore it is difficult to draw out this characteristic By understanding the definition of culture, there are two sides of the argument on whether the culture can be managed (mainstream perspective) and whether culture is something that an organization is that cannot be managed (critical alternative). (Brewis, J ch. 9).
In the mainstream perspective it shows that the management is able to change its culture, which often referred to as cultural engineering (Jackson and Carter, 2000, p. 27-28) and a clear example is shown in the case study of British Airways, 1982-1996 (Brewis, J ch. 9 p349). The merged between British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways (BEA) caused a clash of culture and internal conflicts. The BOAC offers services for higher class passengers whereas BEA is for lower class passengers i. e. Tradesmen. Due to the clash of different classes of services, there is an internal conflict in the management culture which resulted disastrously and sales are declined.
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