Essay, Pages 11 (2582 words)
Organisational culture has been extensively researched over the years as key benefits that arise from a strong culture in aiding organisations to succeed and grow. Understanding how to assemble, preserve or adapt an organisation’s culture’ (McAleese, D & Hargie, O. 2004 p. 155) is necessary for achieving a competitive advantage while organisations can have a direct influence on thoughts and behaviours of the employees in an organisation. (Robbins, Millett, Cacioppe & Waters-Marsh, 2001) 1. 1 Definitions: Brown (1995 p.
6) defined organisational culture as the pattern of beliefs, values and learned ways of coping with experience that have developed during the course of an organisation’s history, and which tend to be manifested in its material arrangements and in the behaviours of it’s members.
‘ Robbins et al. (2001, p. 555) described organisational culture in terms of several characteristics that the organisation and its members value in order to form a successful working environment. The degree to which employees exhibit these qualities will therefore shape the organisations culture. 2. Organisation and its culture: Its functions
There are a number of functions that have been attributed to organisation culture, for example it enables organisations to be distinguished between one another or can suggest a sense of identity for the members of the organisation.
(Robbins et al. 2001) One particular function of culture is to improve ‘social system stability’, (Robbins et al. 2001. p. 563) or reduction of conflict as it allows employees to create a consensus on the organisations mission and goals and to develop strategies in order to achieve these goals and also guides employees on how to communicate with each other.
(Brown, A. 1995) Culture also facilitates co-ordination and control within an organisation by guiding and shaping ‘attributes and behaviour of employees’. (Robbins et al. 2001. p. 563) Culture can also be seen to aid in reducing complexities, uncertainties and conflicts of interest that are generally faced with by all organisations. (Brown, A. 1995) Organisational culture can act as an ‘important source of motivation for employees’ (Brown, A. 1995. p. 58) that can directly affect organisations efficiency.
As theories have emphasised ‘employees are motivated when they find their work meaningful and enjoyable’ and ‘feel valued and secure. ‘ (Brown, A. 1995. p. 59) A strong culture can encourage employees to believe they are performing well and their positions are valuable to the organisation and hence creating a sense of belonging which will directly effect employee’s motivation. (Brown, A. 1995) All of these different functions of organisational culture will act as a source of competitive advantage for the organisation. 3. Organisation and its culture: Types
There have been a number of different types of cultures depending on the particular environments that are evident within organisations such as power-oriented, role-oriented, task-oriented and people-oriented cultures. (Brown, A. 1995, Thomas, A. ; Lindsay, D. 2003) Each of these types requires ‘different types of behaviours, leaders, decision styles, controls and organisation designs. ‘ (Roberts, G. B, Watson, K & Oliver, J. E. 1989 p. 67) A power-oriented culture takes on a hierarchical approach in managing the organisation.
An attribute of a power-oriented culture is ‘there are few rules and procedures’ (Struwig, F. W. ; Smith, E. E. 2002, p. 22) as central figures largely exercise control. Therefore employees have little to no freedom within the environment and all information and decisions take a top-down approach. A ‘power-oriented culture does not nurture initiative and debate’ (Thomas, A. & Lindsay, D. 2003. p51) and motivation is generally cultivated through rewards and punishment. A benefit to a power-culture is their ability to react quickly to change. (Brown, A. 1995)
Role-oriented culture is a working environment that is conducive to structure and regulation and clearly defined job-descriptions (Brown, A. 1995, Struwig, et al. 2002, Thomas, et al. 2003) Inline with the power-oriented culture, role-oriented culture will foster an environment where extrinsic rewards are a source of motivation and ‘promotion is based on the satisfactory performance of individuals in their jobs’, (Brown, A. 1995. p. 68) and innovative and creative behaviour is discouraged. Role-oriented culture is ‘most successful in stable and predictable environments’ (Brown, A.
1995. p. 68) but on the other hand are slow to perceive the need or react to change. (Struwig, et al. 2002) The task-oriented culture relates to power based on expertise and knowledge rather than high position in the organisation. (Brown, A. 1995) Task-oriented cultures tend to focus on job or projects and ensuring appropriate people and other resources are drawn together to create teams to accomplish the specific project. (Struwig, et al. 2002) Team-oriented cultures tend to be more successful in competitive environments where innovation is necessary. (Brown, A. 1995)
A person-oriented culture is when a group of people come together as it is more beneficial to ‘organise on a collective rather than an individual’. (Brown, A. 1995. p. 70) As Struwig, et al (2002) mentioned, within the person culture the organisation exists to assist the individual rather than the individual assists the organisation. Person-oriented cultures generally consist of professional people such as doctors or barristers as it’s more suitable economically to share offices and equipment and therefore individuals will generally allocate their own work. (Brown, A. 1995, Struwig, et al. 2002) 4. Building, Maintaining or Changing:
As it can be seen, an organisations culture is vital to any company’s future success; therefore there is significant importance for understanding how culture is created, sustained or modified. (McAleese, et al. 2004) The creation of an organisation’s culture is generally formed by the founders of the organisation. (Robbins et al. 2001) As culture is built on previous ways things are done and their success, a new organisation has the ability to define its culture free from these previous behaviour and traditions and as a result the founders will build the organisations from their visions on what it should be.
(Robbins et al. 2001) Organisational culture is communicated through a number of ways such as stories, ‘symbolism, feelings, and the meaning behind language, behaviours, physical settings and artefacts. ‘ ((Martins, et al. 2003 p. 65) Stories for example are important to defining a culture as the organisation accumulates a history, this history becomes incorporated into these stories relating to events and leadership behaviour and therefore defining guidelines for how employees should behave. (Frank. E.
1987) Artefacts on the other hand are more physical aspects of culture such as traditions, rituals, slogans and myths. (Parker, R ; Bradley, L 2000) As McKleese, et al. (2004) stated that it is important for organisations to formulate an overall culture strategy and as mentioned by Dwan, (2004) it is the first step in cultural change. The managers ‘must create, define and build a shared understanding of the company’s mission, vision and values’ (McAleese, et al. 2004. p. 162) to ensure employees know what is expected of them.
Thompson ; Strickland (1984) (sited in Struwig, et al. 2002) specified various components that are incorporated in strategy formulation, defining the business, formulating a mission statement, planning such as identifying objectives and goals and finally formulating strategies and policy guidelines. Struwig (2004) went on to investigate the relationships between the different culture types and the different strategy formulation variables. It was found that there was a significant relationship between all of the four variables and culture when there is a power culture present.
In relation to a role culture, more significance was identified between culture and the planning variable of identifying objectives and goals. The task culture was similar with that of the power culture and all variables were required in strategy formulation. Regarding the person culture however there was very little relationship found ‘between the culture of the firm and the strategy formulation process. ‘ (Struwig, et al. 2002. p. 28) As it can be seen it is therefore important for managers to understand the type of culture that exists within the organisation when formulating an overall culture strategy.
There are a number of ways that organisations can act to ensure they maintain their well built culture. (Robbins et al. 2001) Individuals will bring their own personal needs, skills and aspirations with them to the workplace’ (McAleese, et al. 2004. p. 156) and as these may be independent or conflict with those of the organisation, the selection process is important as it ensures new employees values and behaviour are consistent with those of the organisation.
This process works both ways as applicants also need to determine whether there is conflict between the prospective organisations culture and one’s beliefs and values and hence have the opportunity to withdraw their application. (Sathe, V. 1983. ) Aspects that were identified to help new employees learn the culture of their new organisation is informally through interaction with existing employees and ‘formally through induction training programs. ‘ (Wilson, A. 2001. p. 356) Senior management play a vital roll in the management and manipulation of an organisations culture. (McAleese, et al.
2004) Senior management’s behaviour acts to establish norms that filter through to employees and as such employees often focus on the observed values and behaviours of their leaders. Therefore it is important to understand the impact adjustments to senior management can cause to the culture of an organisation. (McAleese, et al. 2004) Different managers may bring different values that may not be consistent with existing values and therefore ‘communication processes should be regularly examined to ensure that changes have a positive rather than a negative knock-on effect. ‘(McAleese, et al. 2004. p.
163) According to McAleese et al. (2004) middle managers can also impact the transmission of culture, in such ways as decision making and the degree of risk taking, the amount of freedom employees have, work structure, ‘what actions will pay off in terms of pay rises, promotions and other rewards’ (Robbins et al. 2001. p. 570) and presentation of self. (McAleese, et al. 2004, Robbins, et al. 2001. Sathe, V. 1983) Communication is an essential component in the success of any organisation and such ‘the impact of internal communication as a process and its relationship to culture is therefore crucial.
‘ (McAleese, et al. 2004. p. 164) This requires continuous two-way communication between management and employees, therefore utilising downward, upward and lateral information flow to relay company procedures and ensure everyone has input into the decision-making process. (McKleese, et al. 2004) Sathe mentioned that a strong culture can positively support the communication channels as it can reduce ‘the dangers of miscommunication’. (Sathe, V. 1983. p. 10) Shared values and beliefs can reduce the need to communicate certain items but also provide ‘guidelines and cues to help the receiver interpret messages.
‘ (Sathe, V. 1983. p. 10) It evident that there is continuingly changing environment that organisations are constantly competing in and as a result culture has to adapt and change continually in tandem with these changing environments. (McAleese, et al. 2004) In particular, Australia is increasingly becoming a multicultural society and therefore organisations are required to manage a more diverse workforce whether it is within the organisation or in the interaction with customers. (Hartel. C. E. J. 2004) Therefore an organisations culture will direct an ‘employee’s level of diversity openness’ (Hartel.
C. E. J. 2004. p. 191) by stories and signals that emphasis how dissimilarity will be viewed. In many cases, ‘diverse people are expected to assimilate to the existing culture. ‘ (Hartel. C. E. J. 2004. p. 192) Hartel (2004) suggested a number of ways that organisations could undertake in order for their culture to be precieved as diversity open. These include mission statements that suggest the organisation values diversity and managers and employees performance appraisals reward those who uphold these values.
Other aspects of this ever changing environment are that creativity and innovation have a vital role to play ensuring organisational success. (Martins, E. C & Terblanche, F. 2003) It can be seen that the type of culture in an organisation can directly ‘influence the degree to which creativity and innovation are stimulated in an organisation. ‘ (Martins, et al. 2003 p. 64) As stated by Russell (1989. p. 11), culture will not directly solve problems requiring innovative solutions, but culture will ‘support innovation by creating an organisational climate which institutionalises innovation as an important activity’.
There are a number of determinants within the research of organisational culture that were identified to support creativity and innovation. (Martins, et al. 2003, Russell, R. D. 1989) Such as an innovation strategy that promotes development by allowing freedom within the working environment to participate in decision making and problem solving and ‘goals that emphasis quality rather than effectiveness’. (Martins, et al. 2003 p. 69) Operating systems and ‘a relatively informal, decentralised structure’ (Russell, R. D.
1989) which features autonomy, flexibility and teamwork can positively influence creativity and innovation. (Martins, et al. 2003) Behavioural norms that were identified by Martins, et al (2003) that promotes creativity and innovation are encouraging employees to experiment and take risks, ensure the culture emphasis’ a orientation of continuous learning and rewards success, yet celebrates failure by learning from the mistakes and encourage a ‘culture that supports open and transparent communication. ‘ (Martins, et al.
2003 p. 72) All of these aspects will support managers in effectively managing an organisational culture that facilitates innovation and creativity. 5. Recommendations: Organisations can have varying types and strengths of culture that can have direct influence on the effectiveness, competitive advantage and hence success of the firm as a whole. Therefore it is vital for managers to understand what type of culture is more conducive to extracting the best performance from there employees based on their type of industry.
As shown there are a number of ways that organisations can help effectively manage organisational culture, such as strategy formulation, communication, selection process, definitions of mission statements, behaviour of senior managers, just to name a few. Therefore it’s important for organisation to understand these attributes in order to effectively manage organisational commitment. 6.
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