Drawing on Appropriate Theory & Examples Essay

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Whether culture management can ever be truly effective and, if so, Which management strategies are most likely to succeed. Taylor describes culture as ‘the complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society,’ Taylor (1871/1958:1). Considering the early days of anthropology, culture was the understanding of what was distinctively human, what separates humans from other animals and hence what defines our similarities.
Growing interest within this field brought about an association of ultra with particular groups of people. This association caused anthropologists to talk about groups as it they were cultures and shifted the touch to anthropology from the general understanding of human kind as species, to the distinctive characteristics of particular groups, and thus to human differences.
A comparison of the definition of Taylor and a definition from American anthropologist Melville Horsepower helps illustrate this shift, ‘a construct describing the total body of belief, behavior, knowledge, sanctions, values, and goals that make up the way of life of a people. ‘ Horsepower (1948:625). The shift that refocused culture to the culture of groups, in anthropology, has been repeated within organizational culture studies, there has been a shift from culture as an organizational unity, to culture as a means of explaining differences between various subgroups of the organization.
Considering different perspectives on organizational culture, researchers Who take an ‘anthropological’ stance, organizations are cultures (Bate 1 994) describing something that an organization is (Smirch 1983) and thus, Scheme explains: ‘an organization comprises a pattern Of shared assumptions invented, covered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valued, and therefore is to be taught to new members of the group as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. (Scheme 1992, p. 247) In this paradigm, organizational culture is both defined and restricted by group parameters, tort example concepts or ideologies, and by normative criteria that provides the basis for allocating status, power, rewards, friendship, punishment, authority and respect. Culture determines what a group pays attention to and monitors in the external environment and how it responds to this environment. Thus, as Bate (1994) notes, for those who take an anthropological stance, organizational culture and organizational strategy are linked and interdependent.
Culture, therefore, is not a separable facet of an organization, it is not readily manipulated or changed, and it is not created or influenced by leaders. For the writers described by Bate (1394) as ‘scientific rationalists’, organizational culture is but one aspect Of the component parts Of an organization, a facet that an be measured, manipulated and changed as can organizational variables such as skills, style, systems, strategy and staff (Peters & Waterman 1982). In this paradigm, organizational culture is primarily a set values and beliefs articulated by leaders to guide the organization. Scientific rationalists’ strategies for change focus on ‘modular, design-and-build activity’ often related to structures, procedures and rewards (Bate 1994, p. 11). Discussion, within this paradigm, within organizational culture is usually from the perspective of managers and often emphasis the leader’s role in creating, influencing or transforming culture: ‘leaders help to shape the culture. The culture helps to shape its members culture, then, attain at the apex of the leaders responsibility hierarchy’ (Hampered-Turner 1990, up. , 9). After the consideration of organizational culture as unitary I will now discus the possibilities of pluralist sub-cultures within the one organization. Writes on this subject may adopt a fragmented or anarchist perspective and claim that ‘consensus fails to coalesce on an organization-wide or sub cultural basis, except in transient, issue-specific ways’ (Frost et al. 991, p. 8). A Unitarian perspective underpins various category descriptions of organizational culture.
A good example of this is Handy (1 993), who believes an organization will display either a role, task, power or person orientated culture Writers with a unitary perspective believe in a top-down leadership of change or maintenance of an organizational culture. The unitary viewpoint Of a single culture makes it possible for the manager to efficiently control or influence the direction of the organization. Those against the unitary perspective believe that an organization is made up f diverse sub-cultures and take a pluralist stance.
Their belief is that success is achieved through effective leadership and management of diversity and maintaining or change the culture of the organization is attained through programmer specifically designed for different segments of the organization. The anarchist perspective argues that in any case, all organizations are comprised of individuals who bring with them their own values and assumptions and thus there really can be no underlying cultural unity at any level except on a transient basis (Frost at al, 1991).
Such fragmentation may be found even in rotationally structured firms for, in their study of twenty organizational cultures, Hefted et al, (1990, p. 31 1) found: ‘shared perceptions of daily practices to be that core of an organization’s culture employee values differed more according to the demographics criteria of nationality, age, and education than according to membership in the organization per SE. The anarchist perspective of organizational culture implies the impossibility of effecting culture change through concentrated efforts, but it also highlights the centrality of effective communication and management diversity if the loosely pulled organization is to remain functional and not break apart (Wick 1991). If individual values and assumptions are evident within the organization, managers must be aware of these to make certain individual behavior is driven by the organizational culture to ensure individuals do not act in a counter. Culture way.
An example of an individual acting in a counter-culture way was apparent within the video ‘Inside the Enron Scandal’. Due to the violation of an individual’s own moral framework, Enron were reported and brought down for their many scandals. This case illustrates that culture can be directly linked to this, The individual believed that the actions of the management within Enron were morally wrong. Another example within General Motors includes the story of the quality cat ‘Howe Make’ whose job to patrol the factory exhorting workers to produce higher quality.
General Motors’ employees reacted to this by producing their own ‘quantity cat’ that chased ‘Howe Maker-n’ off the factory floor. There is also a question of stability within an organizational culture. The fragmentation perspective, which takes on a postmodern view of organizational culture focuses on the inconsistency of an organizational culture. Joanne Martin (1983) writes: When two cultural members agree on a particular interpretation of, say, a ritual, this is likely to be temporary and issue-specific congruence.
It may not reflect agreement or disagreement on other issues, at other times. Subcultures, then, are recapitulated as fleeting, issue-specific coalitions that may or may not have similar configuration in the future. This is not simply a failure to achieve sub cultural consensus in a particular context; from the Fragmentation perspective this is the most consensus possible in any context. ‘ (Martin 198352-64). She is stating that coalitions can never stabilize into unified or sub-cultures cause its important issues are always changing.
Therefore this suggests influencing or even managing culture is a waste of management time. Although I have discussed the view that influencing culture is not possible or a waste of time, I take on the view that influencing culture can bring about benefits to the organization and therefore will discuss this further, will asses the reasons why management wish to or should influence the culture of the organization. Interpreting and understanding organizational culture is an important activity for managers and leaders because it affects strategic velveteen, productivity and learning at all levels.
Mullions (2005) notes culture can have ‘a significant affect on organizational process such as decision- making, design Of Structure, group behavior, work organization, motivation and job satisfaction, and management control’. (Mullions 2005, IPPP-897) Taking into consideration these processes, management would be more successful in influencing and controlling them if they were fully aware of the culture of the The processes mentioned by Mullions, motivation and job satisfaction can be directly linked to commitment within the organization.
The relative strength of an individual’s identification with, and involvement in, an organization,’ (Monday at al 1982). The key word within this definition is identification. If a member of an organization identifies with it, to some extent they must have the same values and beliefs, creating a strong bond and therefore commitment from the member towards to organization. So what are the benefits to a high level to performance and a strong cultural bond?
Commitment can he related directly to a high level of productivity, it also brings about increased job security and therefore an increase in motivation. An obvious improvement will he seen in staff turnover due to staff being more loyal and feel a sense of involvement. We also need to consider the change in demographics, the younger workforce have more bargaining power due to more people graduating from university. In order to keep these people at an organization, commitment must be built up. This could lead to a highly skilled workforce.
An example that helps illustrate the close relationship between culture and commitment is that of SAD in November 2005. Sad had experienced an 18- month decline in market share and profits and close competitors were catching hem up in the market place. So where did Sad go wrong? It starts with the overall strategy of the organization, which leads to the values. Sad were unsuccessful in adopting their strategy and values to the British viva of life, Which in fact led to a lack Of commitment from employees. This clash in culture was Sad’s main problem.
In order to fix the situation Sad could consider the following: reassess the values and beliefs, train and develop the staff, use appraisal systems, ensure they create a work life balance and empower their employees. Another reason why managers should influence culture is linked with the sociological contract, A psychological contract is a set of expectations that employees and the organization have of each other. Both sets of expectations must be met for both parties to be satisfied, if not this will cause conflict within the organization.
Using recruitment as a tool to influencing culture, as will speak more about later on, will ensure management hire employees with similar values and beliefs which will lead to a strong bond and a similar set of expectations. This will create an overall positive atmosphere within the organization and an increase in commitment. Ill now discus particular theories surrounding organizational culture. In order to identify the physical manifestations of an organizational culture, we can use the culture web created by Johnson and Schools (1999).
This web incorporates the following elements: symbols, power Structures, organizational structures, control systems, rituals and routines, stories and the overall paradigm of the organization. The paradigm being in the centre Of the web, overlapping the other elements, implies that the physical aspects of culture can be influenced by leaders or managers, as the change in the Other elements Will certainly bring bout a change in the overall paradigm.
However believe that an organization’s culture runs deeper than this: ‘The slogans, evocative language, symbols, stories, myths, ceremonies, rituals, and patterns of tribal behavior that decorate the surface of organizational life merely give clues to the existence of an all-pervasive system of meaning’ (Morgan, 1986, p. 133). The cultural web shows only the physical manifestations of organizational culture. However Johnson (1999) argues The cultural web is a representation of the taken-for-granted assumptions of an organization’ Monsoons, 1999, IPPP).
Also this theory takes only into account the unitary perspective as a solitary culture throughout the organization, For a better understanding tooth organizations culture, further analysis must take place as to what drives the culture from the inside out, the unconscious assumptions. This analysis leads us onto Edgar Scheme and his work beginning in the early sass’s, Edgar Scheme was a social psychologist that developed vatu has become a significant theory of organizational culture (Scheme 1981, 1984, 1985, 1992).
Scheme identifies three distinct levels in organizational cultures; artifacts and behaviors, espoused values and assumptions. Scheme believes the deeper level Of basic assumptions and beliefs that are: learned responses to the group’s problems of survival in its external environment and its problems Of internal integration; are shared by members Of an organization; that operate unconsciously; and that define in a basic “taken- for-granted” fashion in an organization’s view Of itself and its environment.
In order for the management to successfully define the core assumptions of its members, Scheme identified seven issues that must be resolved. These can be laced into two categories: external adaptation, including goals, mission and strategy and control systems, and internal integration, including rewards and punishment, status and power and common language. At the next level of culture are values. Values underlie and to a large extent determine behavior, but they are not directly observable, as behaviors are.
Values may form some understanding on what is right or wrong to the member of the organization and therefore values can be referred to as ethical codes, Values are certainly more recognizable than assumptions consequently members re able to identify when someone tries to change their culture. The values encourage activities that produce surface-level artifacts. Artifacts are the observable level of culture, ‘the visible and audible remains of behavior grounded in cultural norms, values and assumptions’ (Gaillardia 1990).
They consist of behavior patterns and outward manifestations of culture: privileges provided to executives, dress codes, level Of technology utilized and the physical layout of workspaces. All may be visible indicators of culture, but difficult to interpret Artifacts and behavior also may tell us What a group is owning, but not why. Although the different levels of Chine’s theory may be difficult to define he has created a deep analysis for managers to work with. Managers must understand that new values will be built into basic assumptions after members have accepted them as worthy.
Their benefits must be notable by the members of the culture for this to happen, This will result in new values dropping to the level of unconscious assumptions. Chine’s model not only takes into consideration that culture is driven from inside out, but he suggests that it may be driven trot outside in. We can see that the arrows on his model point both ways. He is showing that the artifacts can be interpreted to transform the values an assumptions, showing the influence of management is possible.
A study on MUM by Greet Hefted in the sass’s brought about the theory that differences in the attitudes expressed by the managers of IBM could be categorized into four dimensions: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and masculinity. This was the result of Hefted making comparisons across the international affiliates of MUM. He conducted a series of interviews with some 1 16 CO IBM employees from 72 countries. When considering Power distance we are analyzing the willingness Of members of a nation to accept an unequal distribution of wealth, power and prestige.
Power distance may well be determined by the Structure Of the organization. For example within a flat organizational structure, power between the members Will be more equal. Uncertainty Avoidance focuses on the level Of tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity within the society i. E. The structuring of activities. If an organization has unstructured activities, this suggests a low uncertainty avoidance. An organization that is very control and rule-orientated expresses gig uncertainty avoidance.
Individualism focuses on the degree the society reinforces individual or collective, achievement and interpersonal relationships. In the U. S cultures individualism is seen as a source of well being. Masculinity focuses on the degree the society reinforces, or does not reinforce, the traditional masculine work role model to male achievement, control, and power. There is more emphasis on work goals and earnings in highly masculine cultures; where as physical environment and relationships are more dominant in less masculine cultures, As with all theories, Hypotheses dimensions are subject to criticisms.
Many writers believe that a survey to measure culture was inappropriate as it was carried out on group date, ‘The very special nature of the IBM study has confused or enraged many who have learned from statistical textbooks that factor analysis has been done On individual data. They Would find it inconceivable Or Wrong to do it on group level data. ‘ (Sёundergrad, 1934). We also need to consider is the study of one company a good representation about entire national cultures? Is the data for this analysis now out of date and obsolete? The external environment and the way it impacts on companies change as time passes by.
And one last point to consider, Will all companies fit within just four dimensions? After thoroughly analyzing the different theorists on the topic of culture we can see that all their theories, too certain extent, allow an analysis of the conscious and viewable aspects of the culture, for example the physical analysis. Do not believe the cultural web gives an in-depth analysis on the underlying assumptions; however Johnson (1999) does bear these in mind and states that it is possible to identity the assumptions after a cultural web analysis takes place.
It is Scheme who takes a step further and suggests for a fuller understanding, of he organizations culture, all three levels, this theory, should be complete. Have already discussed the theories of analyzing which culture an organization has; now will discus a theory of how best to influence and manage culture, Jennifer Chatham and Sandra Enough Chaw believe that powerfully effective cultures display three criteria: a high level of agreement, a high level of intensity, and an emphasis on innovation.
They refer to three tools that leaders can use to help develop, manage and change their company’s cultures to meet these three criteria: recruit & select people for cultural fit, manage culture through colonization & training and manage culture through the reward system. Chatham and Chaw understood one can promote powerful culture by emphasizing person/culture fit in addition to person/job fit. Townies (1989) suggests ‘the growing trend in the use Of systematic selection and appraisal schemes not only seek to improve competitive strength and efficiency but also, and more importantly, seek to control employees. An example Of a company Who have taken this on board are Hays Recruitment. When interviewed by them for my placement year went through a series of personality tests. These tests would eve Hays an understanding of my values and beliefs, the results then could be compared with the culture adopted by Hays to ensure was likely to fit in and accept the overall culture which would have to adopt in my placement year. Training employees about the values, expected behaviors and social knowledge will help create a bond between members so that employees will hold each other accountable for upholding the values.
Also a sense of belonging can be very motivating. Working for a fruit packing company, found myself as an outsider. The existing staff had formed their own bond and was unwilling to allow anyone else within it. This drove me away from the company. In this situation management would be needed to influence the attitudes and values, possible through training, of the staff to prevent further high levels of turnover. Linking the informal cultural reward system to the formal company reward system Will ensure a clear, consistent and comprehensive message of company values.
Seating arrangement in accordance with levels of sales in staff meetings is a good example Of this (Chatham and Chaw, 2002, up. 2-3). If there is a belief that culture can be managed, new forms Of managerial influences and control within organizations Will develop (Peters and Waterman 1982). If culture can influence behavior via values and norms, then management of these values and norms is possible to ensure other organizational performance outcomes are achieved. As have already discussed, this control can be achieved through recruitment and selection as well as other managerial tools.
However an understanding of Chine’s work suggests norms and values are grounded in deeply rooted basic assumptions and therefore managing culture will be strictly limited. The influence exerted by the manager, on organizational culture, depends on any factors, Consideration must be given to the history of the organization, technology, goals and objectives, the size, location, management and staffing and the overall environment, Trust demonstrated by open plan offices and individual appraisal may not co-exist smoothly with each other.
This ambiguity was well represented in the Channel 4 documentary ‘The Gilded Cage’. An influence or change in culture is evident in many case studies, for example British Airways, however as Smith and Peterson (1988, p 121) point out ‘major changes in culture have been successfully accomplished but they are rare’. Managers deed to assess the interests of both employers and employees in order to achieve a balance; in turn this may lead to more commitment, which leaves the manager in a better position to influence. Managers have placed too much emphasis on culture as an entity.

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