Organizational cultures exist, but they can be defined in three different paradigms: integration, differentiation, and ambiguity.
Organizational culture is a force that both enables and controls organizational members.
Organizational cultures are resistant to change, incrementally adaptive, and continually in flux. Culture has inertia, and dramatic change in organizational culture will cause disorientation, confusion, and turmoil.
Irrelevant Not relevant at organizational level, perhaps at subunit level Central—leader has power to manipulate culture Role of Leader Individual within organization, specific issues Subunits within the organization Entire organization Unit of analysis Constant change, contradiction, and creativity Diversity and disagreement, contrast Consistency and consensus Characteristics Ambiguity That which is different across the organization That which is shared and unique Emphasis Fragmentation (Ambiguity) Differentiation Integration Dimension
Continuous and centered on individual adjustment to changing issues, very hard to identify Localized and incremental, motivated by external environment, not traumatic Organization-wide, revolutionary change (e.g. unfreezing, change, refreezing), traumatic Change process Impossible for managers to manipulate, useful for individuals to navigate through changing situations Hard to manipulate at the organizational level Culture as a managerial tool—the key to control, commitment, and coordination Instrumentality of culture Web, jungle Islands of clarity in a sea of ambiguity Umbrella, clearing in the jungle Metaphor Embraced, the only shared value in the organization Medium-level; avoided by the creation of subcultures that avoid differences across subunits Non-existent (except during short transition period of cultural change) Ambiguity Fragmentation (Ambiguity) Differentiation Integration Dimension
Transitory and manipulative Multifaceted and contested Unitary Org. identity* Open (individual focused) Open (environment focused) Closed Type of system* Complexity Configurational and complementary Universalistic, perhaps contingent over time Organizational Design* Garbage-can Boundedly-rational; coalitions Rational Decision-making* Fragmentation (Ambiguity) Differentiation Integration Dimension
Culture within an organization is a strong and active force that shapes its members’ mentality. It rationalizes patterns of behavior, enables certain part of an organization, and legalizes certain institutions.
Organizational culture is a force that governs the cognitive and affective aspects of membership. Members of an organization internalize the organization’s value system, and act on their cognitive and affective affiliation with the organization.
Using culture as a control mechanism represents the ultimate managerial dream—the ability to get employees to cooperate because they want to.
Kunda’s (1992) ethnography of a high-tech corporation with a strong engineering culture supports the notion of integration most strongly.
Kunda’s (1992) analysis of the effects of managerial attempts to control workers through cultural norms shows evidence that culture is a complicated control mechanism.
Xiao and Tsui’s (2007) demonstrated that in organizations that foster a high-commitment culture, structural holes in an employee’s career network tend to be detrimental to the employee’s career development.
With regards to cultural change, Cardinal, Sitkin, and Long (2004) show that the same organization goes through different phases, in which different types of control mechanisms are utilized.
Many organizational scholars explore the functions of culture, assuming that culture has to serve some purposes. An alternative view is that culture simply exists; it naturally emerges as individuals interact in a social context.
Given the subjective nature of culture, any scholarly attempt to classify or understand an organization’s culture is tainted by the researchers own cultural interpretation.