This research suggests that there is a lack of congruence between the Iranian Institutes of Higher Education culture and the faculties desired culture. This conclusion is based on empirical data that indicate that faculties believe that they operate on a day-to day basis in a profession whose culture is characterized by an overarching desire for stability and control, formal rules and policies, coordination and efficiency, goal and results oriented, and harddriving competitiveness. Emphasizing this lack of cultural congruence, the respondents of this study also indicated that the faculties culture should be one that emphasizes flexibility, discretion, participation, human resource development, innovation, creativity, risk-taking, and a long-term emphasis on professional growth and the acquisition of new professional knowledge and skills, which is more aligned with the universities strategic external environment.
One of the principal reasons for the popular interest in the study of organizational culture is to determine the linkage between it and organizational performance (Berrio, 2003). This study has reviewed a previously assumed but unverified connection between organizational culture and leadership styles. It has uncovered a lack of congruence between the dominant type of organizational culture and leadership styles. This observed lack of congruence may be inhibiting performance and unconsciously perpetuating a cycle of caution and an over reliance on stability and control. Key words: Organizational culture- Leadership styles-Higher education
An examination of the literature in the fields of organizational culture and leadership finds that the two areas have been independently linked to organizational performance. For example, researchers have examined the links between leadership styles and performance (see Bycio et al., 1995), and also between organizational culture and performance (see Kotter and Heskett, 1992). Furthermore, numerous aspects of the organizational culture literature allude to the role of leaders in ‘creating’ and ‘maintaining’ particular types of culture (for example, Schein , 1992). Equally, the literature on leadership suggests that the ability to understand and work within a culture is a prerequisite to managerial effectiveness. However, despite the implicit and explicit linking of culture and leadership in many parts of organization theory, little critical research attention has been devoted to understanding the links between the two concepts and the impact that such an association might have on managerial effectiveness.
The absence of critical literature exploring the effectiveness implications of the links between organizational culture and leadership is surprising given the numerous references to the importance of the two concepts in the functioning of organizations (see, Schein, 1992). The aim of this paper is to provide empirical evidence of the links between different types of organizational culture, a range of leadership styles and managerial effectiveness. This is achieved through the presentation of the results of a cross sectional survey of leadership style, organizational culture, and managerial effectiveness across nine universities in Iran. The paper begins with a brief review of the literature on organizational culture and leadership. This is followed by a discussion of the methodology adopted for the study and the presentation of the findings and analysis of responses to questionnaire exploring the links between the two concepts and managerial effectiveness. The evidence demonstrates that the relationship between leadership style and effectiveness is mediated by cultural congruence.
In the final part of the paper, the conclusions and implications of the study are highlighted. As more and more universities enter into new arrangements in 21st century, the need to assess organisational cultures becomes more important .The term ‘organisational culture’ has proved difficult to define, but several of its important components are agreed on by most researchers. These include the norms, perspectives, values, assumptions and beliefs shared by organisational members. Due to the abstract nature of these elements, there is a considerable challenge for external researchers who want to assess organisational culture. It is even difficult for members of an organization to describe their own culture. Cameron and Freeman (1991, p.31) use the old proverb “Fish discover water last” to illustrate the problem of assessing culture among those immersed in it.
The aim of this study is to provide insight into the construct of culture and its relationship with leadership styles in the context of higher education institutions , and to discuss competing values framework as one of approaches to measurement of culture. The paper starts with a discussion on how the concept of organisational culture is understood in the setting of higher education institutions, and is followed by a brief introduction to the tradeoffs between qualitative and quantitative approaches to assess culture. Based on the basic psychometric requirements for measuring culture, this study concludes by identifying some of the implications of selecting or designing instruments for assess cultural differences in higher education institutions.
2.Organizational Culture and Leadership Styles
Before attempting to describe the content of organizational culture, one should first know the concept of organisational culture. Organizational culture has been criticized as being conceptually weak, since it has been defined in many ways (Jelinek et al., 1983) and each definition emphasizes a particular focus or level. Since Schein (1992) published the book Organisational Culture and Leadership, more researchers have recognized culture as a multidimensional and multilevel concept. Schein describes three levels of culture. The first level consists of visible organisational structures and actions, such as dress code, facilities and procedures.
This level of culture can be easily observed. The second level consists of espoused values manifested in the public images of organisations, such as strategies, goals, and philosophies. While not as visible as the artefacts present in the first level, these values can be ascertained by norms, the way things are done in the organisation. The third level consists of basic assumptions, or unconscious beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. These determine both behaviour norms (the way people should behave) and organisational values (the things that are highly valued).
According to Buono and Bowditch (1989, p.137-139), the visible elements created by an organization on the first level are treated as objective organizational culture, while the elements on the second and the third levels are concerned with subjective organizational culture. Most researchers agree that subjective culture is more important as a significant determinant of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours, and it thus provides a more distinctive basis for characterizing and interpreting similarities and differences among people in different organizations. On this understanding, university culture as a particular form of organisational culture can be defined “as the collective, mutually shaping patterns of norms, values, practices, beliefs, and assumptions that guide the behaviour of individuals and groups in an institute of higher education and provide a frame of reference within which to interpret the meaning of events and actions on and off campus” (Kuh & Whitt, 2000, p.162).
While the term organisational culture is used as if an organisation has a monolithic culture, most organisations have more than one set of beliefs influencing the behaviour of their members (Morgan, 1986; Sathe, 1985). Cultural diversity appears to be more obvious in higher education institutions (Kuh & Whitt, 2000, p.161). The ‘small homogenous society’ analogues used in anthropological studies of culture is sorely strained when applied to many contemporary institutions of higher education. Large public, multipurpose universities are comprised of many different groups whose members may or may not share or abide by all of the institution’s norms, values, practices, beliefs, and meanings. Instead of viewing colleges and universities as monolithic entities, it is more realistic to analyze them as multicultural contexts that are host to numerous subgroups with different priorities, traditions, and values (Kuh & Whitt, 2000 p.161) .
This study pays particular attention to academic staff and specifically those engaged at the departmental level. Therefore, from the perspective of this paper, the culture refers to values, beliefs, and assumptions developed within an academic department by academic staff and those who manage academics through joint experiences over long periods of time. Nevertheless, disciplinary identity is not the sole source of the culture shared by academic staff members within an academic sub-unit. It is also subject to a variety of circumstances, such as national context, professional culture and organisational character (Austin, 1992; Clark, 1983, p.75; Välimaa, 1998).
3.A Review of the CVF Model and the Study Methodology
An Overview of the Competing Values Framework (CVF) Model The Competing Values Framework (CVF) evolved from the work of Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1981, 1983) as they attempted to circumscribe the elusive definition for a generally agreed upon theoretical framework of the concept of organizational effectiveness. This framework was chosen for this study because it was experimentally derived and found to have a high degree of face and empirical validity. Additionally, the CVF was identified as having a high level of reliability matching or exceeding that of other instruments commonly used in the social and organizational sciences (Cameron and Ettington, 1988; Cameron and Quinn, 2006; Berrio, 2003). The four quadrants of the framework, representing the four major cultural types: clan, adhocracy, market, hierarchy, provide a robust explanation of the differing orientations and competing values that characterize human behavior.
The richness provided by the CVF is based on its ability to identify the basic assumptions, orientations, and values of each of the four cultural types. These three elements comprise the core of organizational culture. “The OCAI, therefore, is an instrument that allows you to diagnose the dominant orientation of your own organization based on these core culture types. It also assists you in diagnosing your organization’s cultural strength, cultural type, and cultural congruence” (Cameron and Quinn,2006, p. 33). In their research concerning organizational effectiveness, Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1981, 1983) statistically analyzed 39 indicators of organizational effectiveness as identified by Campbell, et al, (1974). Quinn and Rohrbaugh’s analysis resulted in the bifurcation of the 39 effectiveness criteria between two major dimensions.
The first dimension, which is labeled the “Structure” dimension, differentiates the organizational effectiveness criteria between those that emphasize flexibility, discretion, and dynamism and those that emphasize stability, order, and control. The second dimension, which is labeled the “Focus” dimension, differentiates the organizational effectiveness criteria between those that emphasize internal orientation, integration, and unity and those effectiveness criteria that emphasize an external orientation, differentiation, and rivalry (Quinn and Rohrbaugh, 1981 and 1983; Cameron and Quinn, 2006).
Within each of these two dimensions there is also a third set of values, which produces an emphasis ranging from organizational processes, such as planning and goal setting at one end of the spectrum, to an emphasis on results, such as resource acquisition at the other end. Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1981) labeled this third set of values as the organizational “Means –Ends” continuum. The two primary dimensions differentiating between organizational values emphasizing “Structure” and “Focus” produce four clusters of effectiveness criteria as depicted in Figure 1. The “Structure” axis is represented 100 by the “Flexibility – Control” continuum, while the “Focus” axis is represented by the “People – Organization” continuum in Figure 1 . Within each of these four quadrants the relevant “Means – Ends” values are enumerated.