Admittedly, culture is an inalienable part of every organization as it influences a majority of aspects of organizational life, such as decision-making process, rewards distribution, treatment of colleagues, internal environment, etc.
An array of definitions has been given to culture, Hofstede (2001, p.9) defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind, distinguishing members of one category from people from another”. Ng’ang’a and Nyongesa (2012, p. 211) define organizational culture as a “set of important assumptions-often unstated-that members of an organization share in common”. The organization culture is based on beliefs and values where beliefs are people’s perception of reality backed up by experience while values are assumptions pertaining to the ideals that are worth perusing (Ng’ang’ a & Nyongesa 2012).
It is only when the beliefs and ideals coincide and shared, may they result in the creation of truly corporate culture (Ng’ang’a & Nyongesa 2012). Organizational culture may also be viewed as assumptions and experiences accumulated by a group in the course of solving problems and addressing internal integration issues (Ng’ang’a & Nyongesa 2012). Based on the definitions, organizational culture is generally perceived as a cognitive phenomenon.
Every organization has its routines, rituals, and systems, which all contribute to the organizational culture. To understand the system better, an organizational and cultural web was proposed comprising the seven key elements (Johnson & Scholes 1999). The seven elements which are interlinked with the organizational culture are symbols, control systems, power structures, routine, rituals, power structures, and stories. All these elements are deep-rooted within the organization being a guide to employees when deciding what is appropriate and what is not (Sun 2008). Similarly, the organizational culture may be used for the purposes of management control; managers may use the chosen rites, symbols or stories to control and manage the workers’ behaviour (Sun 2008).
An organizational structure shows and defines how the employees work together within the company to support their mission. The organizational culture is directly interlinked with the organizational structure. If the organization has a classic hierarchy structure, the employees will follow specific rituals where the low-rank employees report to seniors. In a cross-functional or a matrix structure, the employees may feel more relaxed, and therefore, the organizational culture will be different.
Culture is a fundamental aspect in organizational life, and it is imperative that those differences be considered in an era of globalization (Hofstede, Hofstede, Minkov 2010). Four dimensions demonstrating the impact of different cultures on the organizational life have been proposed: avoidance of uncertainty, individualism, power distance, and masculinity/femininity (Hofstede, Hofstede, Minkov 2010). Some organizational cultures may be process-oriented while others are results-targeted, hence the difference in the work procedures. Some organizational cultures may be focused on job performance, whereas others take responsibility for the well-being of company members and ensure their development (Hofstede 2010).
Similarly, some organizational structures have a high degree of formality and tight control; the rules stemming from formality have an impact on the organizational culture. Other organizational structures exercise a more relaxed approach in terms of behaviour and dress code resulting in a vastly different organizational culture. Undoubtedly, the organizational culture in the company dominated by women is vastly different than in the one with more male dominance.
The culture of any organization is a complex thing and depends on a myriad of factors, such as history, the size of the company, its location, degree of formality, leadership type and others.
Hofstede, G, Hosfstede, GJ & Minkov, M 2010, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, McGraw-Hill, New York.
Hofstede, G 2001, Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.
Johnson, G & Scholes, K 1999, Exploring Corporate Strategy, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.
Ng’ang’a, MJ & Nyongesa, WJ 2012, ‘The Impact of Organisational Culture on Performance of Educational Institutions’, International Journal of Business & Social Science, vol. 3, no. 8, pp. 211-217.
Sun, S 2008, ‘Organizational Culture and Its Themes’, International Journal of Business and Management, vol. 3, no. 12, pp. 137-141.