3Organizational Symbols and Culture Symbolic Frame Core AssumptionsOrganizational SymbolsGeert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences in Work-Related ValuesOrganizations as Cultures
4Core Assumptions of Symbolic Frame Most important – not what happens, but what it meansActivity and meaning are loosely coupledPeople create symbols to resolve confusion, find direction, anchor hope and beliefEvents and processes more important for what is expressed than what is producedCulture provides basic organizational glue
5Organizational Symbols Symbols reveal and communicate cultureMcDonald’s golden arches and legend of Ray KrocHarvard’s myth, mystique and ritualsVolvo France and Continental AirlinesMyths: deeply-rooted narratives that explain, express and build cohesionOften rooted in origin legends (“how it all began”)Values: what an organization stands for and cares about
6Organizational Symbols (II) Vision: image of future rooted in core ideologyHeroes and HeroinesIcons and living logos who embody and model core valuesStories and Fairy TalesGood stories convey information, morals, values and myths vividly, memorably, convincinglyRitualRepetitive, routinized activities that give structure and meaning to daily lifeMen’s hut and initiation ritualsCeremonyGrand, infrequent symbolic occasions
7Organizational Symbols III Metaphor, humor,play“As if” role of symbols: indirect approach to issues that are too hard to approach head-onMetaphor: image to compress ambiguity and complexity into understandable, persuasive messageHumor: way to illuminate and break framesPlay: permits relaxing rules to explore alternatives, encourages experimentation and flexibility
8Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences in Work-Related Values Culture: “collective programming of the mind that distinguishes one human group from another”Dimensions of national culture:Power distance: how much inequality between bosses and subordinates?Uncertainty avoidance: comfort with ambiguityIndividualism: how much value on the individual vs. group?Masculinity-femininity: how much pressure on males for career-success and workplace dominance?
9Organizations as Culture Organizations have cultures or are cultures?Definitions of culture:Schein: “pattern of shared basic assumptions that a groups has learned as it solved its problems…and that has worked well enough to be considered valid and taught to new members”“How we do things around here”Culture is both product and processEmbodies accumulated wisdomMust be continually renewed and recreated as newcomers learn old ways and eventually become teachersManager who understand culture better equipped to understand and influence organizations
10ConclusionIn contrast to traditional views emphasizing rationality and objectivity, the symbolic frame highlights the meta-rational and tribal aspects of contemporary organizations.Symbols help us make sense of ambiguous and confusing realitiesCulture as basic organizational glue, the “way we do things around here”Symbols embody and express organizational values, ideology