Cultural Approach To Organizations

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Chapter 20

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Cultural Approach To Organizations

  1. 1. Cultural Approach to Organizations Of Clifford Geertz and Micahel Pacanowsky
  2. 2. Organizations as Cultures <ul><li>Culture as system of shared meaning </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reject notions of high culture and low culture </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cultures have subcultures and counter-cultures </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Culture made manifest through performance – the actions which constitute and reveal people’s culture ( symbolic expression) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Culture includes task and non task-related performance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Performances seen as texts, available to be read </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reading performances requires seeing an organization as its members experience it – ethnographic method. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Ethnography <ul><li>Involves “thick description” based on extensive observation </li></ul><ul><li>Posture of “radical naiveté” – sees the organization as “strange”. </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses on the non-obvious but significant, including language, metaphors, stories, nonverbal rites and rituals. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Metaphor <ul><li>The ethnographer pays attention to metaphors that organizational participants themselves use to describe the organization and its practices and </li></ul><ul><li>Also constructs metaphors of his/her own </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Story <ul><li>Ethnographers watch for the stories that participants tell – stories/anecdotes often encapsulate memorable performances and values </li></ul><ul><li>Three kinds of story include: corporate (ideology of management), personal (told by employees about themselves), collegial (told about others in the organization). Collegial stories are often negative or positive and revealing about how employees think the organization “really works.” </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes the results of this research can be reported in fictional form. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Ritual : the way it has always been <ul><li>Some rituals are texts that articulate multiple aspects of cultural life – but they should be interpreted according to the meanings that they have for the participants </li></ul>
  7. 7. Practical and ethical issues <ul><li>Should managers change culture? </li></ul><ul><li>Can culture be changed? </li></ul><ul><li>Should ethnographers work for management? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Critique <ul><li>Do corporations really have cultures that are identifiably isolated from the culture in the wider society? </li></ul><ul><li>Should ethnographers remain neutral in the face of all cultural practices? Or should they expose repression, wrong-doing, etc.? </li></ul>

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