I will outline why a strong culture is required for organisations in a post-bureaucratic era. Culture “represents the totality of everyday knowledge that people use habitually to make sense of the world around them through patterns of shared meanings and understandings passed down through language, symbols, and artefacts” (Clegg 3rd Edition, 2011). It is the ‘glue’ that binds the workforce of an organisation in a post-bureaucratic organisation, which is heterarchical, meaning information flows across divisions and is more equally given to people and different managements.
I will also draw upon numerous tutorial and additional readings to explore the differing opinions into the essence of culture and its importance to modern-day organisations. It is an important ingredient to success that organisations meet their objectives under a strong culture in the post-bureaucratic era, as the necessary outcomes will be achieved through a quality focused cultural organisation.
Furthermore I will provide an overview of culture in the post-bureaucratic era with the assistance of Josserand (2012), and then analyse the working environment by comparing and contrasting its effectiveness with a strong culture using Rosen (1988) and Karreman, D. & Alvesson, M (2004). Lastly I will assess an organisations working situation without culture using Bolden (2006), to ultimately show that in my opinion it is clear that “organisations need strong culture” to be successful.
Josserand (2012) analyses corporate alumni networks as a post-bureaucratic management practice that perpetuates an individuals’ subjectivation despite them no longer being a part of the organisation. Courpasson (2000, cited in Josserand 2012) states that “post-bureaucratic management practices are powerful soft-domination devices”. On the surface it appears as though there is equality among workers in the organization which helps produce obedience, however it’s actually a pervasive system of controls which subtly reinforces the hierarchical structure (Josserand, 2012).
It’s been debated that an enterprising culture is promoted by post-bureaucratic practices. DuGay (2000, cited in Josserand 2012) further points out that it “carries humanistic values of autonomy, responsibility, flexibility, confidence, and trust, that encourages people to be empowered and to take on responsibilities”. Culture gives organisations unique identities but most importantly, I believe a positive culture benefits both employees and employers, as it creates a productive working environment and thus leads to more efficient and effective work practices.
It increases the successfulness of the organisation if implemented successfully. Employing a strong culture in an organisation can be a tedious, time consuming and a difficult task, however it is a long term project to increase the organisations profitability by increasing the enjoyment and satisfaction of its’ workers. In addition workers will flourish according to Salaman & Storey (2008, cited in Josserand 2012) “by constantly achieving harder, better and faster”, which is beneficial for the employers and employers as better results are achieved.
It also engrains the concept that they are “players on the same team” (Hardy, 1998, cited in Josserand 2012). The ultimate outcome is for the workers to believe they are “members of the big corporate family who they can trust as their relatives” (Casey 1999, cited in Josserand 2012). From this, they all enjoy the success of achieving the ‘family’s’ key objectives. Negative culture lacks the engagement and empowerment aspects needed by a successful organisation and achieving the key objectives in a weaker or negative cultured organisation become much more difficult and stresses the bureaucratic processes.
Rosen’s (1988) article utilises the setting of an organisations Christmas party to draw out the cultural and symbolic meanings, under the guise of a supposedly innocent social event. There is a “blurring of boundary between self and organisation” (Rosen 1988), giving workers a chance to develop more personal relationships with fellow workers, which I believe is an important consideration in driving culture. However subtly it is a form of normative control which reinforces the organisations hierarchy.
Nevertheless, bosses, co-workers, and inferiors in the organisation socialise in the social setting, not as “subordinates” (Rosen 1988) but as equals. This further “blurs the boundaries between that which is work and play, instrumental and moral, inside and outside” (Rosen 1988), where familial bonds are forged and comradeship created. Here, workers’ life and work become indistinguishable. Creating and maintaining a strong culture is thus beneficial for both employees and employers as they feel “belonging as family and profession” (Rosen 1988).
Greater bonding among workers helps develop a sense of connection and a feeling of belonging, which therefore increases the productivity of the employees and therefore make the organisation more profitable. The Christmas party is ultimately “a collection of members forming an organic unity” (Rosen 1988), creating a culture which “encourages an informal, flexible, and dedicated membership, one not constrained by extensive rules, and one capable of accomplishing ill-defined and complex tasks” (Rosen 1988).
It is the ongoing drive to succeed which continues to grow the strength of the positive culture that is continually being by a valued workforce. Karreman, D. & Alvesson, M (2004), uses the case of ‘Big Consulting’ to discuss how “organizations were stereotypically understood as bureaucracies, with very slightly refined and tightened structural cages”. Bureaucratic modes of organizing include “division of labor, hierarchy, and standardization” (Karreman, D. & Alvesson, M 2004), and these usually alienate workers as managers take no appreciation of their contribution.
This negative culture that is created from alienating and disengaging workers is very difficult to transform into positive culture, and therefore weakens organisations and bureaucracies as a result. However it has changed over the past thirty years, and this stereotype has been replaced with a cliche “that organizations are becoming increasingly network based, organic, and flexible, and knit together: values, ideas, mutual adjustment, community feelings or identity” (Karreman, D. & Alvesson, M 2004). Here it is evident that a culture of positivity, teamwork and individuality has been developed.
Adopting these practices has benefited ‘Big Consulting’ as it has instilled a “delivery culture and commitment to keeping deadlines at all costs” (Karreman, D. & Alvesson, M 2004). Now strength is the focus of the organisation when completing a task, as the workers have been cultured into committing themselves whole-heartedly to working together as a team to complete work projects. The culture which has been bread in this organisation can enhance an organisations reputation as evident by ‘Big Consulting’ case study where it is now known as “a reliable and trustworthy business that delivers what is promised” (Karreman, D. Alvesson, M 2004). Though Bolden, R. Gosling (2006) does not focus on culture, I will be using it to show the disadvantages and issues associated with organisations and leaders without a strong culture. The competency approach “appears to be fast becoming one of the most dominant models for management and leadership assessment and development in the UK” (Miller et al. , 2001; Rankin, 2002, cited in Bolden, R. Gosling 2006). This approach was founded on an “objectivist view of the world that considers the worker and the work as distinct entities” (Bolden, R. Gosling 2006).
Of importance – in my belief – is the fact that “the strong emphasis on individual behaviour means that outcomes are invariably attributed to the individual rather than the collective and/or contextual” (Bolden, R. Gosling 2006). This can have negative effects on the organisation as workers lack the determination and motivation because they receive near no credit for the work they’ve undertaken nor the goals they have achieved. Therefore the organisations profitability often decreases, as workers become increasingly unsatisfied and unproductive as they feel as though they are taken for granted and only known as ‘numbers’ rather than people.
I have outlines why “organisations need strong culture” by providing an overview of culture in the post-bureaucratic era, and an analysis of the working environment by comparing and contrasting its’ effectiveness with and without strong culture. Josserand (2012), Rosen (1988), and Karreman, D. & Alvesson, M (2004), assisted me in showing how post-bureaucratic organisations with a strong culture focused on working together as a team benefits organisations.
While I used Bolden, R. Gosling (2006) to illustrate the negative aspects to an organisation that is hierarchical and does not take notice of employees, and the value they can often add to achieving the organisations goals. I have come to the overall conclusion that organisations do in fact need strong culture, as it increases worker moral and productivity because they are recognised and are engaged as valuable members of the organisation. This in turn benefits the organisation as its profitability increases as a positive workforce leads to positive outcomes with the goals of the organisations being achieved.
Courtney from Study Moose
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