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Organization Culture

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1. How would you define organization culture? Describe its various manifestations. Using this framework describe the culture of your current class room. Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that helps individuals understand which behaviors are and are not appropriate within an organization. It also includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. Cultures can be a source of competitive advantage for organizations. Strong organizational cultures can be an organizing as well as a controlling mechanism for organizations. Made up of its members’ shared values, beliefs, symbols, and behaviors, culture guides individual decisions and actions at the unconscious level. As a result, it can have a potent effect on a company’s well being and success. Professors Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn have identified four basic types of organizational culture: Collaborate, Create, Control, and Compete. Each one carries different attitudes, behaviors, and work patterns that must be recognized to enhance effort and performance. Organizational culture manifests itself at three fundamental levels;

a) basic underlying assumptions, b) values and c) observable artifacts. At the deepest level, below our awareness, lie basic assumptions. These assumptions are taken for granted and reflect beliefs about human nature and reality. At the second level, values exist. Values are shared principles, standards, and goals. Finally, at the surface, we have artifacts, or visible, tangible aspects of organizational culture. When one enters an organization the first thing s/he observes is its artifacts: its physical environment, employee interactions, company policies, reward systems, and other observable characteristics. Observing the physical environment, how people dress, where they relax, and how they talk to others is definitely a good start to understanding the company’s culture. However, simply looking at these tangible aspects is unlikely to give a full picture of the organization, since an important chunk of what makes up culture exists below one’s degree of awareness.

The values and, deeper, the assumptions that shape the organization’s culture can be uncovered by observing how employees interact and the choices they make, as well as by inquiring about their beliefs and perceptions regarding what is right and appropriate behavior. We are a group of people of various background age and interest. All of us have a good understanding and we gel well as a team. The class visually looks attentive, collection of decent and obedient people. But it varies with the instructor. In some of the classes the students are attentive, others not. Some are busy fiddling with their gadgets, gazing and chatting. The main problem is that we have created ourselves to be less creative, less questioning and lacking originality. The class is less interactive and seems to lack enthusiasm for learning, not in all cases. The reason might be the way we have approached our studies. I feel that we have less time for our studies and are more job-oriented, that is why people arrive late in class and have a laid back approach. But we all want to learn the subject and pass our exams albeit with less effort.

Few of our members work hard enough whereas others don’t. Our class in characterized by helping each other out. There are always few exceptions though. But overall the idea is to learn the skills, knowledge, be wise and successful in our career. The most important values in my classroom are respect and cooperation. Majority of the members are dedicated, enjoy working together and feel like a group. There is trust and respect for each other, but are competing at the same time. Discipline is an issue sometimes. The most important part of this class and what makes it special is the way it handles internal politics and the way all the members stand shoulder to shoulder at times of crisis, i.e submission of assignment. 2. How would you respond to a statement “Understanding of organization culture is not important as far as managers are concern.”? The statement “Understanding of organization culture is not important as far as managers are concern” seems to be far from truth.

If you consider the organizational culture issue to be of little importance to your organization, you may want to rethink your views. To be successful in any setting it is important to understand the culture – this understanding allows us to navigate successfully through our day and be productive. Culture is important then because it defines the boundaries of behavior and performance, which allow us to produce rather than discuss “how” to do everything – it becomes a short hand way to get things done. Organizational culture is an effective control mechanism dictating employee behavior. Culture is a more powerful way of controlling and managing employee behaviors than organizational rules and regulations.

Hence, culture is indeed something that managers should pay attention to as it may be related to increased performance. First and foremost, this is because culture affects the performance of organizations as Culture is a more powerful way of controlling and managing employee behaviors than organizational rules and regulations. It is particularly important for managers to pay attention to culture when reacting to or planning major organizational change. Culture is particularly important when an organization is undergoing significant transformation or when introducing major reforms which require different or new cultural or value traits from those exhibited in the past.

Knowing that culture is important in shaping organizational practice and performance in organizations is one thing. But a subsequent issue is the extent to which managers can actually shape or influence culture. On the one hand, examples can be identified where interventions can influence culture. But on the other hand, some academics warn of the danger of attempting to influence the more superficial aspects of culture such as symbols and ceremonies, while ignoring the more pervasive and deep seated aspects of culture such as values and beliefs.

These more deep seated aspects of culture are much more difficult to influence; Creating a climate for change, leaders as champions, employee engagement and empowerment, team orientation, tracking cultural change and training, rewards and recognition. Fundamentally the key to effective culture management is leadership. Leadership must be committed to managing culture in terms of developing and sustaining organizational performance, while managers throughout the organization are responsible for its effective development.

3. How are you contributing to the making of this culture? Also explain how your OM facilitator contributing to collective organizational culture of your present class? Being a part of this class I have definitely contributed to the making of this culture. I started being more interactive from the beginning. I had the desire to learn and extract more out of the instructor. I believe instructors are like lemon, more you squeeze more juice you get. But I was surprised when I heard voices of me being quite questioning, saying that the course was slowing down. This made me change my approach. I started questioning and interacting less in the classroom and interact more in leisure hours. Hence I have also become like the class as it looks. But I want to be punctual, attentive and not disturbing, complete my assignment in time as this will help me. But visually I complement the class culture.

It would be interesting to observe the class culture during the OM class. It is my feeling that the students “seem to be attentive” because of the pace of the class. They have less time to study and focus on the class matter. This makes them less questioning and also creates an environment of being unable to fiddle with the gadgets. Once again their job priority has let them down, aligning to asking for help in each and every case.

Those who do pay attention and have time to study don’t need any help. Another point about OM is that it is very easy to relate to our own organization making it more interesting. Hence we feel “related”. Above all the instructor has a unique style of making all involved and engaged one way or the other, even drawing an MG Curve! This I feel has more to do with the whole culture and contributing to it. Last but not the least it has shown that the class culture can be molded by the instructor himself and can orient the class as s/he wants.


1) Principles of Management, v. 1.0 by Mason Carpenter, Talya Bauer, and Berrin Erdogan 2) Dessler, Gary: Organization Theory; Integrating Structure and Behaviour, Second Edition, Prentice Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 3) CPMR Discussion Paper, Understanding and Managing Organisational Culture, Orla O’Donnell Richard Boyle 4) The Management of Organizational Culture, Lesley Willcoxson & Bruce Millett 5) Organizational Culture, Edgar H. Schein, Sloan School of Management, MIT 6) Organizational Culture by William H. Mobley, Lena Wang and Kate Fang 7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_culture

Submitted To: Mr. Madan Lal Pradhan
Submitted By: Umesh Agrawal, Roll No: 27, EMBA Fall 2012
Ace Institute of Management, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu

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