Organisational Culture

Topics: Organizational culture, Management, Culture Pages: 11 (2874 words) Published: August 27, 2014
Few issues influence organisational outcomes more than culture. Shaping members behaviour, beliefs and values, the internal culture of an organisation is a powerful tool, one effective leaders capitalise on to achieve competitive advantage. This essay argues that leadership is a crucial element of strong internal culture, in turn supporting an inclusive and multicultural organisation. To discuss this proposition, the approach taken is both theoretical and observational, comprising three sections. First, ‘Observable culture, core values and a preparatory view of diversity management’. Second, ‘Multiculturalism, diversity management and the fundamental role of leadership’, and finally, ‘A critical reflection of multiculturalism and leadership within a known organisation’. Observable culture, core values and a preparatory view of diversity management. Schein (2010), defines organisational culture as incorporating three elements. One, the behaviour of employees within the workplace. Two, the manner in which members learn throughout the organisations evolution and three, the imported assumptions, beliefs and values of new members and leaders. Leadership has been described as a fundamental element of strong internal culture (Schein, 2010), therefore, the strength of the internal culture is a reflection of the organisations leadership (Schermerhorn et al., 2014). As an example of self-fulfilling prophesy (Schermerhorn et al., 2014), leadership governs whether internal culture is either an asset to an organisation, or a liability (Chatman & Cha, 2003). Strong organisational cultures are inclusive and cohesive, interconnecting employees with shared values and beliefs. Furthermore, a strong culture is one where managers actively communicate organisational objectives to members and the organisational strategy is closely aligned to those same objectives (Deal & Kennedy, as cited in Ross, 2000). Conversely, weak cultures displays disjointed values and beliefs. While members may affiliate with a boss, co-worker or sub-culture, overall loyalty to broader organisational goals is fragmented (Smircich, as cited in Ross, 2000). Weak cultures rarely support and achieve the organisations strategic objectives (Ross, 2000). Commonly, internal culture evolves due to the attitudes of the organisations founders or leaders (Schein, 2010), thereby highlighting the fundamental importance of leadership to the development of strong internal culture. Astute leaders recognise any dysfunctional elements of culture and implement change initiatives (Schein, 2010), in turn guiding the organisation towards increased performance and sustainable competitive advantage (Chatman & Cha, 2003). Achievement of strong internal culture and competitive advantage is gained when managers incorporate a three pronged approach. First, by establishing shared values and beliefs. Second, by ensuring operating procedures are aligned with established principles and finally, by demonstrating commitment towards the individuals and teams within the internal environment, for example, members, customers and stakeholders (Schermerhorn et al., 2014; Ross, 2000). While organisational culture can be explored on many different levels (Schein, 1984), most commonly, it is described on two levels, ‘observable’ culture and ‘core’ culture (Schermerhorn et al., 2014). Schein (1984) describes observable culture as ‘how’ the environment was created and ‘what’ behaviour is displayed amongst members. Observable culture is visible, what can physically be seen and heard within the environment, for example, the office layout, manner of dress and style of communication. It is through strong observable culture that the organisations values and beliefs are reinforced to existing members and learnt by new members (Schermerhorn et al., 2014). The observable culture is reflected in the customs of its members, including stories, heroes, symbols and rites and rituals (Schermerhorn et al.,...

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