HRMM001 People in Organisations DL

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1.1    Introduction: 3

1.2    Elements of Culture. 3

  1. Artifacts: 3
  2. Basic Assumptions: 4

III.    Values: 4

1.3    Common Characteristics of Organizational Culture. 4

  1. Risk taking and Innovation: 4
  2. Direction: 4
  3. Control: 4
  4. Management Support: 4
  5. Reward System: 5
  6. Stability. 5
  7. Integration: 5

1.4    Identification of Uniform Culture: 5

1.5    Strong Culture versus Weak Culture: 5

1.6    Maintaining Culture Alive: 6


2.1    Functional Components of Culture: 6

2.2    Dysfunctional Components of Culture. 7

2.3    The liability aspect of culture: 7


References: 13


According to House & Aditya (2007) organizational culture refers to a fundamental system of shared beliefs, values and assumptions viewed to be the right way of acting and thinking about the opportunities and problems that an organization is facing.  It is the profound extent of basic beliefs and assumptions which are: acquired responses to group’s survival problems within its external settings as well as issues pertaining internal integration.

Organization culture is the social bond which assists holds an organization together through the provision of suitable standards on what employees ought to do or say. Bennis (2009) argues that a strong organization culture is an arrangement of informal tenet, which outlines how employees have to conduct themselves most times. According to Armstrong (2008) organizational culture is a system of essential assumptions which a particular group has developed, discovered and invented as they learn to muddle through its challenges of internal integration and external adaption (M. Cherif Bassiouni, 1998).

Strong Culture versus Weak Culture:

It is increasingly becoming common to distinguish weak and strong cultures. The idea being that strong cultures have significant effect on the behavior of employee and are quite directly linked to decreased turnover. A characteristic of a strong culture is when core values of the organization are both widely shared and intensely held (Bennis, 2009).  Organizational culture becomes stronger when more employees accept organization’s core values and demonstrate considerable commitment to such values. Whereas each and every organization has a culture, some seem to have deeply rooted, stronger cultures compared to others. Originally, a strong culture was viewed as a coherent set of practices, assumptions, values and beliefs that most members of the organization embrace (Schein, 1985). It was emphasized on a number of issues such as (1) the level of consistency of practices, assumptions, values and beliefs across members of the organization; and (2) the pervasiveness of consistent practices, assumptions, values and beliefs. A number of initial proponents of organization culture appeared to make assumptions that pervasive, strong culture was advantageous to organizations based on the argument that it fostered sameness, solidarity, identity, commitment and motivation, which consequently enhanced coordination and internal integration (Huntington, 2007).

Elements of Culture

Several definitions of culture offer dominance to the cognitive elements, for example values, beliefs and assumptions. Some definitions widen the concept to entail artifacts and behaviors. Schein (1985) is one of the foremost academicians in the field and identifies the below as the elements of culture, as illustrated in figure 1.  Organizational culture can be profiled into three levels depending on their visibility as well as how strongly they are held in the organization. Behavior and Artifacts are the first level (Powell, 1997). Behavior and Artifacts remain the highly visible elements of organizational culture. They comprise the physical setting of the workplace as well as the employee’s observable behaviors. The other level is Values, which are not as visible as behavior however can be seen since they manipulate observable behavior of employees.  But coming at the center of organizational culture could be taken as the level of Basic Assumptions. The basic assumptions actually cannot be seen, however they are quite ensconce in the workers that they can be expressed so naturally since that is the way in which the organization thinks (Minow, 1991).



Figure 1: Elements of culture

(Source: Schein, Edgar H, 1985)


Summary of Elements of Culture


This is the first feature of organizational culture and it entails observable signs and symbols of the group. It comprises visible components of an organization, for instance processes and structures. Artifacts are highly visible elements of organizational culture. They also entail the physical setting of the workplace as well as the employee’s observable behaviors (Bennis, 2009).

Basic Assumptions:

These are the beliefs which members of a group take for granted. They are critical sources of action and values that comprise; feelings, thoughts, beliefs taken for granted, perceptions and unconscious. As already mentioned, Basic Assumptions cannot be seen, but they are quite entrenched in the people in organization that they can be expressed so naturally since that is the way in which the organization thinks (Minow, 1991).


Minow (1991), notes that values are the reasons for instance; philosophies, goals and strategies that an organization outlines how its operations are executed. Values are not as visible as behavior and as noted above can be seen since they influence observable behavior of employees.Common Characteristics of Organizational Culture

Schein (1985) indicate that organizational culture has become more vital today than it used to be in the past. Increased alliances, acquisitions, mergers, globalization, competition and different workforce establishments have generated more need for: Integration and coordination across organizational departments so as to enhance speed, quality, and efficiency of delivering, manufacturing and designing services and products.

In the same way possessing strong personality boost character to an individual, organizational culture offers an organization its special identity. It assists establish cohesion among the workers since they share core elements of organizational culture and absorb in them team work spirit.

Figure 2 common characteristics of organizational culture


Reward system
Risk taking and


Team Orientation
Management support


Figure 2: Characteristics of Organizational Culture

(Source: Schein, Edgar H, 1985)

Risk taking and Innovation:

According to Schein (1985), this is the extent of independence, freedom and responsibility that people have and workers are encouraged to be risk seeking, innovative and aggressive. One could either be a pioneer or a follower in an organization.  Pioneering has its risk components; however in some instances it could also create a breakthrough outcome or result for the organization. Hence, risk taking and innovation remains one of the main common characteristics of organizational culture outlining the extent at which the organization allows for innovation.

Team Orientation:

Today, it is a well known fact that synergistic teams assist companies obtain better results as opposed to individual efforts. All companies make their efforts to establish teams, which can effective work together and possess complimentary skills (Schein, 1985). Through team orientation companies goals can be realized because people work as a team.


Sherriton and James (1997) states that control implies the number of regulations and rules and the extent of direct administration that is employed to control and supervise human behaviour. The management of organization establish the number of rules and regulations to be followed within the organization, some of these rules help in avoid organizational misbehaviour and as other help in maintain a peaceful co-existence among employee and help reduce organizational conflict.

Management Support:

The level at which managers offer support, assistance and clear communication to their subordinates. This still remain one of the highly debatable issues in organizational culture. What extent should the management focus on the employees? Some companies are well known for their employee oriented characteristic, since they emphasize on establishing better work environments for their employees. While the rest remain feudal in their operations, as they treat their employees more or less like work-machines (Huntington, 2007).

Reward System:

According to Bennis & Nanus (2007) this is the level upon which allocation of rewards is dependent on the criteria of   employee performance in contrast to favouritism and seniority among others. Some companies focus more on the results and less on the processes. In actual sense it is the organization model of each company that determines whether attention should be more on the results or processes. This determines the reward system of the organization. 


Satisfaction in job seeks to assess valuable responses to work setting e.g., how workers feel about the reward practices and expectation of the organization. Whereas certain organizations believe that innovation and constant change are fundamental for their growth, some pay more attention in making their operations and themselves stable (Bolman & Deal, 2011).The organizational leadership of these companies are focusing at ensuring the stability of the organization as oppose to indiscriminate growth.



Bennis (2009) argues that this is the extent at which departments in an organization are designed to function in a coordinated system to enhance speed, quality, and efficiency of delivering, manufacturing and designing services and products. Some companies like Microsoft are famous for their integration strategies that has seen them dominate market, work with speed and deliver quality products.

Dominant and Subcultures in Organizations:

Bennis (2009) point out that culture of an organization depicts a common view held by members of the organization. At any particular culture, there is possibility of subcultures. A number of big corporations have various categories of subcultures as well as dominant culture. A culture that is dominant in an organization conveys the fundamental values, which most members of the organization share (Huntington, 2007). The distinct personality of an organization is obtained through macro view of its culture. Subcultures seem to establish in big corporations to reflect common experiences, situations and problems which members of the organization encounter. Armstrong (2008), notes that such subcultures tend to be defined by geographical separation and department designation. If corporations did not have dominant culture and only constituted by different subcultures, then the worth of organizational culture by the virtue of being an independent variable could be lessened significantly (Minow, 1991).

1.5 Keeping Culture in Organizations

The moment a culture has been established, there are organizational practices that work to sustain it through offering employees a pact of similar experiences. For instance, a number of HR practices help rein.............

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