The impact of culture on operations and working practices of an organisation has been a major concern which turns to separate successful organisations from the rest and this report intends to discuss its effect on an organisation. The term'' Organisational Culture'' has become really common with managers and management theorists alike since the publication of ''In search of Excellence'' (Peters and Waterman, 1982).
Theoretically, the term'' Culture'' can trace its roots within social anthropology and became the first to be used by society or a group of individuals to explain their qualities of life in a holistic manner from one generation to the other.
For sometime now, the nature of organisation's culture has been viewed as having a tremendous impact on the success of an organisation. Kotter and Heskett (1992), for instance realises how the performance of an organisational can be influenced by the culture of the organisation. Denison (1990), established that some types of culture could improve the performance of an organisation, while Van der Post et al. (1998) also found important relationship between organisational performance and culture. According to Schwartz and Davis (1981); Scholz (1987); Choe (1993); Rashid and Anantharaman (1997), in the implementation of the key strategies in an organisation, organisational strategy is found to be linked with organisational culture.
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From the findings, it can be said that organisational culture forms an important component in the field of organisational behaviour, particularly in aiming to better understand the context of organisations and the people in it. It can be said that the aims and objectives of an organisation could be seriously affected by the culture of that organisation. That said, the implementation or execution of successful organisational policies and plans also need the dedication and commitment of the people in the organisation.
.According to Tylor (1971), ethnographically, culture is that big thing which involves law, morals, knowledge, belief, customs, and any other qualities and symbols that a man needs in order to be considered a member of the community. According to Van der Post et al. (1998), culture is to an organisation what personality is to the individual. Even though it is hidden, it is the ultimate force or weapon that gives meaning and direction to the organisation. Also, employee behaviours are ultimately shaped by this system of values and beliefs of that organisation.
Organisational culture gives a people-centred, theoretical perspectives on the way change in management is seen to provide some detailed into the 'intangible'' nature of organisations and how they behave, compared to the traditional management view of organisation(rational argument, formal structure, procedures and rules).This difficulty comes from the generations and also the application of fresh techniques and tools within the organisational culture context which makes the ''people management'', the management of change and the realisation of strategic objectives, easier to accomplish''(Brown,1992,p.3).
In studying organisational culture, Kotter and Heskett (1992) established that organisational culture has an important impact on a firm's long term economic performance. They found that organisational with cultures that shows all the main managerial constituencies (customers, employees and stockholders) and all levels of leadership, perform better than organisation that do not show or have all these characteristics by a long margin. They also established that organisational culture is really becoming a major factor in determining the failure or success of organisation in the next decade or generation. According to Sadri and Lees (2001), an organisation could profit from a more positive organisational culture thereby giving the competitive advantages over their rivals in the industry. However, organisational performance could be affected by a negative culture as it could prevent firms from using the exact tactical or strategic changes. This type of culture could affect future changes in an organisation.
FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANISATION'S CULTURE.
In analysing the nature of organisational culture in an organisation, it is really necessary to understand the factors which influence it. Schein (1991), mentioned some grouping of factors as follows-
1. THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
The environment in which the organisation generally operates its business plays a role in determing the culture of the organisation. Community in generally will influence ideas about status, work money and various kinds of jobs. The authors of anthropology and sociology emphasized the differences in attitudes of culture between regions and also between various forms of social strata. These kinds of differences will influence respect for managers, commitment and behaviours towards customers and services.
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According Kotter and Heskett (1992) and Schein (1983), leadership have some sort of influence on the culture of an organisation. Where there is prove of a link between and culture and leadership, it is a new organisation. According to Pettigrew (1979), in new organisations, the culture of the organisation is influenced by the founder or entrepreneur to suit his own ambition, the link between followers and their entrepreneurs and the general procedures through which commitment and purpose are formed and maintained. If the owner of the organisation finds himself in the mix of employees and colleagues who do not side with his ideas of how thinks are to be done, the process of culture development will involve negotiation, conflict, compromise and sometime the removal of members from the organisation or group.
3. MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AND THE FORMAL SOCIALISATION PROCESS
The way in which an organisation is managed is most likely to really influence either negatively or positively the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour of their employees. Before talking about management practices, let's know the difference between leadership and management. Kotter (1990) concluded a lot of writers' definitions of leadership by saying that it is part of the future plan of the organisation through the development of vision and strategies for the future. It is then the responsibility of the leader to communicate his visions and ambitions through words and deeds to the internal and external audiences while encouraging its employees to deliver them. Management, on the other hand, is generally described as being about the detailed budgeting, planning controlling, organising and staffing of an organisation as well as ad hoc problem solving.
4. THE INFORMAL SOCIALISATION PROCESS
As most definitions of organisational culture highlight the important element of sharing within an organisation, it is necessary to know how member act or behave within the group context from the group dynamic needs (Schein, 1969, 1991; Schutz, 1969; McGrath, 1984).
The first is to feel like been part of a group by enhancing a viable role and being remembered or recognised by these members of the group. This involves a compromise of maintaining a distinct and different identity but as the same time, part of the whole group as a member.
Secondly, there is also the desire to feel powerful, influence and control and at the same time accepting the importance of others to do the same thing. Even though this can result in conflict, it can also help to formulate the duties of members within the organisation.
Lastly, to feel the fundamental protection and togetherness that comes with been part of a group, you want to be accepted first by the group.
Through working with each other, the members of the group learn gradually through interaction the behaviours of each other and how to tolerate them. This establishes procedures of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Also, it becomes a way of spreading anti-culture or of revealing inconsistencies in the main culture of the organisation.
ORGANISATIONAL CULTURAL PRACTICES
The fundamental core of culture in every organisational is established by symbols which are the objects, gestures or words seen by other members who are also part of the organisation' culture and are also the overt element of culture. Behaviour and values which are the desire to chose other states over other and is also the deepest level of culture. Organisation's rituals and routines also form part of their culture because they are the collective activities that are socially accepted as important and essential. Organisation's style of communication and language also forms part of their culture of the organisation.
This report is about the organisational culture of Tunstead International Farm Camp (R&J Place, UK), a soft fruit growing and processing company based in Tunstead, Norwich, UK. Special emphasize will be placed on the culture of the organisation in terms of the physical symbols, behaviour and values, and rituals and routines of the organisation.
RITUALS AND ROUTINES
There are so many departments in the organisation so the first thing one does is to check the notice board in the evening to find out where he will be working the following day and time (this could be in the morning, afternoon or evening).Students' identities are known by their ID numbers which are always given to them as soon as they get to the farm or organisation.
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Once you get to know where you are working the next day and time, you go for breakfast which is serve very early in the morning by the organisation as part of the weekly accommodation fees. You then get to your various groups which is normally headed by a supervisor to let the group know their work for the day. Work is usually seven days depending on which group and department you are (picking group, packing group, processing group or freezer group).
On weekends, starting from Friday, they organise disco and concerts in the farm for all the students and play all sort of music to suit all the students from Africa and Europe. And on Saturdays, they will arrange sporting events between groups, hostels, or even countries just to take away some of the stress from the students. Sometimes, the manager in the farm will organise trips for the students. I quite remember the regular places we used to visit were the oxford university and London. However, some of the students feel left out since most of the time their group might be working when all these activities are taken place in the farm.
PHYSICAL ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE
Place, UK, is a farming organisation which requires large hectares of land for its operations and for this reason are located at the outskirt of town (Tunstead, Norwich) where they have access to the land. In the entrance to the building, there is a big gate with no security at day but some at night. Inside the premises, you will see the offices, the freezing department, finance office, students' office and hostel, packing department, processing department and some playing grounds (football, table and long tennis, and snooker).There is however, a strong and bold signs on the entrance to direct visitors to all the departments mentioned above. Because most of the workers there are seasonal agricultural students' workers from all across Europe and Africa, the organisation is structured in such a way to suit the lifestyle and needs of students.
ORGANISATION BEHAVIOUR &VALUES
Place, UK, is arguably the most diverse of Britain premier soft fruit supplier (raspberry, strawberry, apple, blackberry, plumb, etc).Having built a reputation as one of UK's leading growers and processors of high quality soft fruit for major supermarket as marks and spender, Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose, the quality of their products and services won't be compromised by anything. For this reason and many others, they take the behaviour and values of the organisation very serious. As soon as you get to the farm, you are given an order book which spells out all what the organisation stands for and what is expected of every individual in the organisation. Going against these could result in dismissal from the farm.
Being a fruit growing and processing organisation, hygiene is on top of their list. The premise is kept tidy all the time and no one is suppose to ease themselves around the place. The various groups' supervisors inspect that no one is wearing a ring; all clothes are clean even though it is a farm work and no talking while picking the fruits into the baskets. Most of the students (workers) are of different races (black and white) so issues of racism and discrimination are taken seriously. Things like theft and fight like any other organisation are also frown upon.
The organisation prides itself in quality, traceability and provenance to its customers and workers and therefore expects its workers to behave themselves even outside the premises to depict what they stand for.
THEMES IN THE ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE LITERATURE
There are four themes in the organisational culture literature, namely-
Firstly, most writers see culture as a learned entity. At a common level, culture can be defined as ''the way we do things around here'' or 'the way we think about things around here (Williams et al., 1994).Generally, cultures can best be described as the way we think or act. According to Schein (1984), culture is the pattern of life that a basic group of individuals have discovered, invented or established to deal with its problems of both internal and external integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore to be passed on to the next generation as the right way to think, perceive and feel in terms of those issues or problems. The major factor in that culture is that it is passed on to new members as the right way to act, thus perpetuating organisational survival and growth.
Secondly, from literature, culture can be seen as a belief system. According to Davis (1984), organisational culture gives a contract to the past rigidity of management models. To him, culture is that pattern of shared values and beliefs which gives individuals of an organisation a sense of meaning, and gives them the rules for behaviour in their organisation. An examination of organisational culture starts by differentiating between fundamental guiding belief and daily beliefs. Guiding beliefs provide the pattern for the real ''nitty-gritty'' belief of everyday life i.e. guiding belief provides direction to daily beliefs. As basic precepts, it is also an aspect of the culture of an organisation and can be explained as the rules and feelings about everyday behaviour. However, these beliefs are situational and dynamic and are normal change to suit the context for which it's applied for.
Thirdly, culture can be seen as a strategy. In a wide analysis, Bate (1995), disagrees fundamentally with the distinction between strategy and culture. To him, there is no validity between the two when separated since they are the same. He clearly states that he was: 'not suggesting that culture is like strategy (vice versa), now am I saying that culture and strategy are closely relatedâ€¦What I am saying is that one is the otherâ€¦.culture is a strategic phenomenon''. There are two folds of such a cultural belief;
1. Culture activity of any kind is a strategic formulation (the development of strategy is cultural development)
2. Culture change is also strategic change
From the above statement, any attempt to support or try to separate ''cultural change ''programme is basically flawed since within the informal and formal strategic planning processes, cultural change is already taking place
Lastly, the perspective which involves a lot of the items or elements of the previous kinds is to see culture as mental programming. Hofstede (1980) was a big supporter of this and defined culture as the 'collective programming of the mind, which separates the individuals of one category of people from one another''. This kind of definition emphasizes that culture;
-is not a characteristics of individuals but rather collective (shared values)
-is mental ''software'' therefore intangible and invisible as such
-is amazing only to the point that it distinguishes between groups of people
From all the above models, it is imperative to ascertain the influence that culture has on the everyday operations and workings of the organisation, thus its relationship both internal and external with customers, how it organises itself and also how it treats its staff members.
From the discussion, it can be concluded that culture plays an important aspect in an organisation. The way the cultural policies are implemented differentiates it from their competitors. So for an organisation to succeed, it must have its identity (culture).