Pairing organisational culture models with corporate values

Corporate values and organisational culture drive success, but only if they work well together. How do you make sure your culture aligns with who you are?

Organisational culture is a core factor that sets the framework for how a business and its employees function as a cohesive whole. 

It is critical to develop a culture aligned with the business's core values, without jeopardising the flexibility organisational culture models offer. 

Corporate culture cannot be static as even the slightest change can have prolonged ripple effects.

Edgar Schein, a renowned organisational management expert from the MIT Sloan School of Management, says it is possible for an organisation to have different cultures and subcultures. It is common for some units to even own specific subcultures in large organisations.

Harvard Business Review identified four generally accepted attributes in organisational culture models based on a synthesis of seminal work by Edgar Schein, Shalom Schwartz, Geert Hofstede, and other leading scholars. It concludes that culture is a group phenomenon that is shared, pervasive, enduring, and implicit.

Organisational culture is not born in a single day. Schein says these cultures should be formed in due course of time. It is formed through adaptations to external and internal environments, as well as problem-solving methods. However, the way in which it is built can be designed.

There are several variables in designing cultures and values. First is the purpose and goals of the company, the approach in building the culture, suitable profile for the company, the company values, and benchmarks to relevant entities within a similar industry.

Edgar Schein and organisational culture models

According to Schein, you need to consider three levels when choosing an organisational culture model. 

The first is something easily accessible by individuals, in some clear characteristics, such as dress code, interior design, facilities, employee behaviour, as well as vision and mission of the company. These characteristics are collectively known as artefacts, and it has certain key factors in deciding the culture of the workplace.

A company that allows casual dress-up and office gossip could be less professional than a company that is very particular about deadlines and avoiding unnecessary disputes. A looser attitude may lead to higher creativity. 

The next level is the values of the employees as individuals. The thought process and attitude of employees can profoundly impact the culture of any particular organisation as these values will directly influence the culture of the workplace.

The third level is the assumed values of the employees, which are hidden but do affect the organisation's culture. They are certain beliefs and facts within the inner aspects of human nature. For instance, an organisation dominated by females might naturally reflect this. Although this is usually not something being openly discussed, such values do exist.

Types of organisational culture

Other scholars of the same field, Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn, developed the Organisational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) to assess organisational culture. According to Cameron and Quinn, there are four different models in organisational culture.

The Clan Culture

The Clan Culture introduces a sociable working environment where executives are seen as mentors. The organisation is held together, not only by commitment but also by tradition. This model requires significant involvement and encouragement of teamwork, participation, and consensus.

The Adhocracy Culture

The Adhocracy Culture makes an energetic and creative working environment where employees follow their innovator and risk-taker leaders. Bonding is formed through experiments, and innovation and prominence are emphasised. While it encourages individual ingenuity and freedom, its long-term goal is to grow and create new resources.

The Market Culture

The Market Culture is appropriate for results-based organisations where people are competitive. Reputation, success, and the desire to win keep everyone together, with market penetration and stock being the definition of success. Meanwhile, rival activities and goals are its long-term focus, with leaders acting as hard-driving producers.

The Hierarchy Culture

The Hierarchy Culture is a typical formalised and structured work environment that defines success in trustful delivery, smooth planning, and low costs. Procedures, in an attempt for efficiency, within its rules and policies keep the organisation together. Long-term goals involve stability, results, efficiency, and smooth execution of tasks.


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