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Organizational Culture Essay

This essay/assignment is a solution paper on Organizational Culture. It reviews the Hofstede Model and Schein Model as well as tries to understand the the dynamics which influences the occupational cultures. This is a sample paper. The definition of culture remains quite ambiguous with researchers assessing it utilising different methodologies. The common understanding of culture is a way of doing things, or the norm by which a society organizes its tasks. However, the terminology tends to be classified more distinctly when looked upon in the aspect of organizations and their systems of performing actions. Two of the most prominent researchers on this aspect of organizational behaviour are Geert Hofstede and Edgar Schein. Each has presented the concept of organizational culture using a paradigm based on the values and thinking exhibited by the workers of an organization, but has assessed different levels of adaptation and integration that bind this aspect of culture.

According to Hofstede, ‘culture is the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one group from another. Culture in this sense is a system of collectively held values’. On the other hand, Schein has taken a slightly different approach and states ‘culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization that operate unconsciously and define in a basic “taken for granted” fashion an organization’s view of its self and its environment’. The common notion among researchers is that every organization exhibits certain values and norms in the business environment and a company will likely end up portraying two things; organizational culture and corporate culture. The former is based on what the company ‘is’, while the latter principle is an embodiment of the vision and character of the company, making up what a company ‘has’.

Both Schein and Hofstede showed similarities in their presentation of the concept of organizational culture by applying a focus on the mental assumptions that shape the ideology of culture and give rise to the norms and values that end up being regarded as the primary character of an organization. However, the anthropological approach adopted by them towards organizational culture varied greatly. Hofstede favoured the ‘etic’ or dimensional approach, where the description of behaviour is very neutral and can be applied to various cultures. A key reasoning for this is the linkage he presented between the national culture prevalent in the business environment that an organization operates in, and its resulting effects on the shaping of the norms that are applied by the organization itself. On the other hand, Schein looked upon organizational behaviour with an ‘emic’ approach, describing the dimensions that affected companies by viewing it from the aspect of a person within the culture.

Hofstede undertook an extensive research process within IBM, to understand the behaviour it and its employees exhibited across the many offices it had in the world. His ideology was that organizational behaviour was greatly influenced by national and regional cultural groupings. The conclusion from the research conducted allowed Hofstede to present five characteristics of culture that he believed were exhibited by organizations in one way or form across the world. These included power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity vs. femininity, long vs. short term orientation, and individualism vs. collectivism. Schein’s organizational model looked at culture from the standpoint of an observer and presented three levels to describe the complex workings involved in a company. At the first level were the observable artefacts, pointing to those attributes which could be seen, heard or felt by the observer.

The second level was the exposed values, which referred to the professed culture of the organization by its members. At the third level lie tacit assumptions, which are made up of the unseen elements of culture of an organization that become the unspoken rules of the company. While Hofstede’s model of organization culture relies on the tried and tested ideology of cultural theorists by underlying the determination of culture in an organization from core values and assumptions of a given national culture, Schein’s model brings about more functionality to the subject area by delving into a deeper understanding of the factors that influenced the exhibited culture in the organization.

Hofstede’s IBM study developed linkages between personality and culture, by relating to individuals as components of societies, and organizations a resultant of both. Schein presented the notion of learning as a part of the organizational culture, and one of the building blocks that courted different operators in its assimilation and establishment. In both models, the common factor remains the individuals who form the organization, and in many ways are responsible for providing the behavioural traits to the company in order to portray a sense of belonging.

The divergence in its initiation relates to the variance held by Hofstede and Schein, with the former attributing the national culture being the driving force, while the latter focuses on the various actors who play a role in the creation of the organizational entity as the contributors to the culture of that establishment. While personality will play a part in the integration between the original and acquired culture, the need for understanding the dynamics which influence the occupational cultures is important in order to become aware of the human factor and its role in the process.

References
Hofstede, G. & McCrae, R. (2004) ‘Personality and Culture Revisited: Linking Traits and Dimensions of Culture’, Cross-Cultural Research, Volume 38, No. 1, pp. 52 – 88 Schein, E. (1996) ‘Culture: The Missing Concept in Organization Studies’, Administrative Science Quarterly, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp. 229 – 240


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