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Understanding Organizational Culture Part I Edgar H. Schein (2004)

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1 Understanding Organizational Culture Part I Edgar H. Schein (2004)


3 Misconceptions about Organizational Culture Culture = Sophistication Anthropological view: Culture = Rituals and Customs Org research view – A right kind of culture – Some cultures are better than others (surveys) – Stronger culture = Better performance

4 Abstract Nature of Culture Organizational culture describes phenomena that are often hidden and below the surface of observable behavior Culture is within us as individuals (learned behavior in family, peer groups, occupation), yet constantly evolving as we join and create new groups

5 Culture and Leadership Culture and leadership are two sides of the same coin in that leaders first create cultures when they create groups and organizations. What do you think he means?

6 Attributes of Culture Begins with leaders who impose their values and assumptions on a group If the group is successful, assumptions come to be taken for granted as the right way to do things Results in a culture that now defines what type of leadership is effective

7 Attributes of Culture If group runs into adaptive difficulties (the environment changes internally or externally), some of these taken-for-granted assumptions may no longer be valid Leadership now becomes the ability to step outside the culture and initiate change processes that are adaptive to the new reality

8 The bottom line for leaders is that if they do not become conscious of the cultures in which they are embedded, those cultures will manage them. Edgar H. Schein, 2004

9 Shared Attributes of Organizational Culture Observed behavioral regularities Group norms Espoused values Formal philosophy Rules of the game Climate Embedded skills Habits of thinking Shared meanings Root metaphors Formal rituals and celebrations

10 Characteristics of Culture Structural Stability – Stable, as well as shared – Culture survives when members of the org do not Depth – Deepest, often unconscious part of group life; less tangible and less visible

11 Characteristics of Culture Breadth – Pervasive; influences all aspects of the organization Patterning or Integration – Forms a gestalt or whole to create orderliness in the organization – Reduces ambiguity – Permits sensemaking

12 Culture Defined A pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.

13 Three Levels of Culture Artifacts Espoused Values Underlying Assumptions

14 Artifacts: visible organizational structures and processes, such as... Dress code Names and titles of people and how they are used Formality or informality in speaking Degree of emphasis on automation Perks such as parking, other benefits Traditions upheld Working hours

15 Espoused Values: established group values and beliefs such as... Slogans, mottos Mission statements or code of ethics Statements about commitment to excellence (or customer service, etc) Overt and professed beliefs about how employees and customers are treated

16 Basic Underlying Assumptions: beliefs and attitudes so taken for granted that they are not often articulated Most difficult to change because rarely re-examined Similar to what Argyris calls theories in use Represent a shared mental map Represent the most powerful aspect of organizational culture

17 How does a new group create a culture?

18 Each member of a new group will bring his or her own cultural learning from a prior group. As the new group develops its own shared history, it will develop modified or brand- new assumptions based on what is successful in its own experience. These new assumptions create the culture of the new group.

19 What do you see as the artifacts and espoused values at Enron from the movie? What appear to be basic underlying assumptions in operation? How would you go about finding out more about these underlying assumptions to ascertain if what you have surmised is correct?

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