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Fons Trompenaars’ Four Types of Corporate Culture Essay

Guided Missile – a project-oriented approach; concerned with results. This group looks for practical solutions to shared challenges via multi-disciplinary teams. The U.K. and U.S. fit into this group.

Familial – this is a power-oriented model in which a ‘family’ approach is taken. Power comes from high but is well known and there is a deep concern for all members. Japan and Belgium fit into this model.

Eiffel Tower – a role-oriented group in which hierarchy is important; top-down management style. To manage change, the business would have to change rules and procedures. France and Germany score high in this model.

Incubator – fulfillment-oriented group who see all members as ‘co-creators’. A relatively egalitarian structure in which individuals are given the freedom to improvise. Silicon Valley is a good example of where this has worked to great effect. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner: Seven Cultural Dimensions

1. UNIVERSALISM versus PLURALISM “What is more important – rules or relationships?” The degree of importance a culture assigns to either the law or to personal relationships. In a universalistic culture, people share the belief that general rules, codes, values and standards take precedence over the needs and claims of friends and other relationships. In a pluralistic culture, people see culture in terms of human friendship and intimate relationships. While rules do exist in a pluralistic culture, they merely codify how people relate to one another. 2. INDIVIDUALISM versus COMMUNITARISNISM “Do we function as a group or as individuals?” The degree to which people see themselves function more as a community or more as individuals. In a principally individualistic culture, people place the individual before the community. This means that individual happiness, fulfillment and welfare prevails and people take their own initiative and take care of themselves. In a principally communitarian culture, people place the community before the individual. Thus, it is the responsibility of the individual to act in ways which serve society. In doing so, individual needs are automatically attended.

3. SPECIFIC versus DIFFUSE “How far do we get involved?” The degree to which responsibility is specifically assigned or is diffusely accepted. In a specific culture, people first analyse the elements individually and then put them together, the whole is the sum of its parts. People’s lives are divided accordingly and, only a single component can be entered at a time. Interactions between people are very well-defined. Specific individuals concentrate on hard facts, standards and contracts. A diffusely oriented culture starts with the whole and sees individual elements from the perspective of the total. All elements are related to one another. Relationships between elements are more important than individual elements. 4. AFFECTIVITY versus NEUTRALITY “Do we display our emotions?” The degree to which individuals display their emotions. In an affective culture, people display their emotions and it is not deemed necessary to hide feelings. However, in a neutral culture, people are taught not to display their feelings overtly. The degree to which feelings become manifested is therefore minimal. While emotions are felt, they are controlled.

5. INNER DIRECTED versus OUTER DIRECTED “Do we control our environment or work with it?” The degree to which individuals believe the environment can be controlled versus believing that the environment controls them. In an inner-directed culture, people have a mechanistic view of nature; nature is complex but can be controlled with the right expertise. People believe that humans can dominate nature, if they make the effort. In an outer-directed culture, people have an organic view of nature. Mankind is viewed as one of nature’s forces and should therefore live in harmony with the environment. People therefore adapt themselves to external circumstances.

6. ACHIEVED STATUS versus ASCRIBED STATUS “Do we have to prove ourselves to receive status or is it given to us?” The degree to which individuals must prove themselves to receive status versus status simply given to them. In a culture with achieved status, people derive their status from what they have accomplished. Achieved status must be proven time and time again and status will be given accordingly. In a culture with ascribed status, people derive their status from birth, age, gender or wealth. Here status is not based on achievement but it is accorded on the basis of the person’s being. 7. SEQUENTIAL TIME versus SYNCHRONIC TIME “Do we do things one at a time or several things at once?” The degree to which individuals do

things one at a time versus several things at once. Cultures developed their own response to time. Time orientation has two aspects: the relative importance cultures assign to the past, present and future, and their approach to structuring time. In a sequential culture, people structure time sequentially and do things one at a time. In a synchronic time culture, people do several things at once, believing time is flexible and intangible. http://www.provenmodels.com/580/seven-dimensions-of-culture/charles-hampden-turner–fons-trompenaars/

Geert Hofstede’s Six Cultural Dimensions

The research of Geert Hofstede has shown that cultural differences between nations are especially found on the deepest level; i.e. on the level of values. In comparison, cultural differences among organizations are especially identified on the level of practices. Practices are more tangible than values.

Means Oriented vs Goal Oriented

The means oriented versus goal-oriented dimension is, among the six dimensions, most closely connected with the effectiveness of the organization. In a means oriented culture the key feature is the way in which work has to be carried out; people identify with the “how”. In a goal oriented culture employees are primarily out to achieve specific internal goals or results, even if these involve substantial risks; people identify with the “what”. In a very means oriented culture people perceive themselves as avoiding risks and making only a limited effort in their jobs, while each workday is pretty much the same. In a very goal oriented culture, the employees are primarily out to achieve specific internal goals or results, even if these involve substantial risks.

Local vs Professional

In a local company employees identify with the boss and/or the unit in which one works. In a professional organization the identity of an employee is determined by his profession and/or the content of the job. In a very local culture employees are very short term directed, they are internally focused and there is strong social control to be like everybody else. In a very professional culture it is the reverse

Internally Driven vs Externally Driven

In a very internally driven culture employees perceive their task towards the outside world as totally given, based on the idea that business ethics and honesty matters most and that they know best what is good for the customer and the world at large. In a very externally driven culture the only emphasis is on meeting the customer’s requirements; results are most important and a pragmatic rather than an ethical attitude prevails. This dimension is distinguishable from means versus goal orientation because in this case it is not impersonal results that are at stake, but the satisfaction of the customer, client or commissioning party

Open System vs Closed System

This dimension relates to the accessibility of an organization. In a very open culture newcomers are made immediately welcome, one is open both to insiders and outsiders, and it is believed that almost anyone would fit in the organization. In a very closed organization it is the reverse

Easy Going Work Discipline vs Strict Work Discipline

This dimension refers to the amount of internal structuring, control and discipline. A very easy-going culture reveals loose internal structure, a lack of predictability, and little control and discipline; there is a lot of improvisation and surprises. A very strict work discipline reveals the reverse. People are very cost conscious, punctual and serious

Employee Oriented vs Work Oriented

This aspect of the culture is most related to the management philosophy per se. In very employee oriented organizations members of staff feel that personal problems are taken into account and that the organization takes responsibility for the welfare of its employees, even if this is at the expense of the work. In very work oriented organizations there is heavy pressure to perform the task even if this is at the expense of employees. http://geert-hofstede.com/index.php

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