What is organizational culture ? Full Meaning and Definition

Definition of Organizational Culture:

What is organizational culture ? Organizational culture refers to a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations. This system of shared meaning is, on closer examination, a set of key characteristics that the organization values. There are seven primary characteristics.

  1. Innovation and risk taking
  2. Attention to detail
  3. Outcome orientation
  4. People Orientation
  5. Team Orientation
  6. Aggressiveness
  7. Stability

Innovation and risk taking is the degree to which employees are encouraged to be innovative and take risks.

Attention is the degree to which employees are expected to exhibit precision, analysis, and attention to detail.

Outcome oriented is the degree to which management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on the techniques and processes used to achieve those outcomes.

 People oriented are the degree to which management decisions take into consideration the effect of outcomes on people within the organization.

 Team oriented is the degree to which work activities are organized around teams rather than individuals.

Aggressiveness is the degree to which people are aggressive and competitive rather than easy going.

Stability is the degree to which organizational activities emphasize maintaining the status quo in contrast to growth.

Culture is a Descriptive Term:

Organizational culture is concerned with how employees perceive the characteristics of an organization’s culture. It’s a descriptive term.

Organizational culture has sought to measure how employees see their organization.

Does it encourage teamwork?

Or Does it reward innovation?

Does it stifle initiative?

Job satisfaction seeks to measure affective responses to the work environment. It’s concerned with how employees feel about the organization’s expectations, reward practices.

Some Term of Culture in Organizations:

  • Do Organizations Have Uniform Culture?
  • Strong Versus Weak Cultures
  • Culture Versus Formalization

Do Organizations Have Uniform Culture?

Organizational culture represents a common perception held by the organization’s members. We should expect, therefore, that individuals with different backgrounds or at different levels in the organization will tend to describe the organization’s culture in similar terms.

Acknowledgement that organizational culture has common properties does not mean, however, that there cannot be subcultures within any given culture. Most large organizations have a dominant culture and numerous sets of subcultures. A dominant culture expresses the core values that are shared by a majority of the organization’s members. When we talk about an organization’s culture, we are referring to its dominant culture. Subculture tends to develop in large organizations to reflect common problems, situations, or experiences that member’s face.

Strong versus Weak Cultures

The argument here is that strong cultures have a greater impact on employee behavior and are more directly related to reduce turnover. In strong culture, the organization’s core values are both intensely held and widely shared. The more members who accept the core values and the greater their commitment to those values is, the stronger culture is. A strong culture will have a great influence on the behavior of its members because the high degree of sharedness and intensity creates an internal climate of high behavioral control.

Culture versus Formalization

A strong organizational culture increases behavioral consistency. In this sense, we should recognize that a strong culture can act as a substitute for formalization.

High formalization in an organization creates predictability, orderliness, and consistency. A strong culture achieves the same end without the need for written documentation. Therefore, we should view formalization and culture as two different roads to a common destination. The stronger an organization’s culture, the less management need be concerned with developing formal rules and regulations to guide employee behavior.

What Do Culture DO?

Now we will discuss the functions of culture and assess whether culture can be a liability for an organization.

Functions of Culture:

Culture performs number of functions within an organization. (i) First, it has a boundary defining role; that is, it creates distinctions between one organization, and others. (ii) Second, it conveys a sense of identity for organization members. (iii) Third, culture facilitates the generation of commitment to something larger than one’s individual self-interest. (iv)Fourth, it enhances the stability of the social system.

Culture is the social glue that helps hold the organization together by providing appropriate standards for what employees should say and do. Culture serves as a sense making and control mechanism that guides and shapes the attitudes and behavior of employees.