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one of the major strengths of the culture metaphor rests in the fact that it directs attention to the symbolicâ€¦significance of even the most rational parts of organisational life [Gareth Morgan, 1986]
Discuss the issues raised in the quotation above, and comment on:
The effect of organisation culture on the design of organisation structure;
The effect of national culture on organisation culture;
The ways in which power exists in different organisation cultures.
The organisational culture can be thought the bedrock that builds a community and holds people together in an organisation. Every organisation has their own culture and some people insist that organisation is culture. Mullins (1985) mentioned that the organisation culture is the way as reflecting and sharing values of organisational suppositions which about the way work. In this way, organisation culture is a means of finding a way to resolve differences and helping people work together. Besides, culture also plays a significant role on the setting of organisation structure.
There is a long-standing topic about the relationship between organisation culture and structure.
Does organisation structure shape culture, or is it shaped by culture? There are many types of organisation culture and these different cultures give rise to different cultures because all organisations are affected by internal and external cultural factors. Bolman (2008) argues that "over time, an organisation develops distinctive beliefs, values, and customs. Managers who understand the significance of symbols and know how to evoke sprite and soul can shape more cohesive and effective organisations." The organisation culture is closely related to structure. Furthermore, the cultural patterns which have evolved over a long period of time are aligned with the change of organisation structure. This is a key characteristic of relationship between culture and structure. When an organisation's culture established based on culture, managers or employers can understand their member's expectations.
Generally, a culture represents of whole organisation's character but also serves important function in an organisation. In terms of the culture metaphor, it enables compress complicated issues into understandable images, influencing our attitudes and actions. The symbolic-interpretive theory is one of the theories of the culture metaphor. According to this theory, an organisation's culture is revealed and communicated through its symbol. This symbol shape the way people think and communicate about the organisation and the world. Although people may not be aware consciously of culture, it still has influence on their behaviour and action. Also, the symbols of organisation are transmitted to its members through socialisation processes. By the process of socialisation members of organisation can know the values and norms of the organisational culture. Linstead, Fulop and Lilley (2004) points out that sometimes acting symbolically is more a matter of acting publicly, a symbolic action can give off powerful images which can easily be associated with the other more content messages that are being given out. In this way, it could be seen that culture massive influence on an organisation's structure. Therefore, having sense and observe that the distinctiveness of organisation cultures in a different departments or organisations are crucial.
- The effect of national culture on organisation culture
A culture of organisation has consciously or unconsciously affected by national culture and this culture is not easily brought under any group or individual's control. The organisational culture is connected to wider cultural values which support them. It is this 'national culture' that is the foundation of organisation culture. On the other hand, the national culture can be described by the analysis of Geert Hofstede. He tried to find different cultural values between different countries and organisations. He says that "culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Culture differences are a nuisance at best and often disaster." His research shows how different people's behaviour in other culture and his theory can be used when it comes to analyzing a country's culture.
In today's increasingly globalized society, there are a number of conflicts which are generated by cultural differences. According to Mullins (1985), the cultural issues and need for understanding between different cultures in the international business area have become rising concern of organisational behaviour. For example, South Korea's has a low individualism in the Hofstede's research. This indicates that people in South Korea are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups. This is because of old custom and culture that has accumulated for a long period. Similarly, every country has own national culture and this can affect every organisation in the country. The figure 1 explains different cultural values from different countries. In this respect, same situation would be interpreted as a different signal according to a different country's national culture. These differences of cultural beliefs and values make it difficult to understand other culture. Therefore, the effort is needed to accept other cultural values and behaviours.
- The ways in which power exists in different organisation cultures
Normally, the behaviour of members in the organisation is largely affected by their culture. Mullins (1985) refers that "culture is the largest organisation control system that dictates how crazy or idiosyncratic people can be." Organisations have distinctive cultures which can influence people's attitudes. These cultures shape visible aspects of the organisation such as their structure and communication. Culture in different organisations evolves over time suit for each organisation's situations. Moreover, cultures can be modified suit an organisation's circumstance. This is the main reason why culture can have a power in a different organisation.
On the other hand, there are a number of ways how culture can exist in the organisation. According to Handy, culture can be divided four types and each has a different characteristic. Firstly, in the power culture, a dominant central holds power. A power culture is one in which member's of organisation activities strongly influence by a dominant central figure. The decision making also depends on central figure. Many entrepreneurial firms operate in this way. Secondly, typical characteristics of the role culture are the job description or the procedure. Procedures guide the way that people or departments interact with each other. Managers define what they expect in clear, detailed job descriptions. Also, role and job description are more important that individual. A role culture works well in a stable environment, where things are predictable. Thirdly, the task culture focuses on getting the task or project completed rather than the formal roles that people occupy. People will typically work in teams as a further way of combining diverse skills into a common purpose. This structure is similar to matrix structure thus it works well for high-technology business. Final one is the person culture. In this culture each individual is at the centre of the culture and the structure is there to serve the individual. However, this form is found in only a few organisations such as small professional or artistic organisations. Handy also points out that the member of this culture do thing to satisfy the needs of the members rather than an external market.
Consequently, there are many ways to exist culture in the organisation. In order to understand the culture of an organisation, it needs to bring together different aspects for the analysis of organisation culture.