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Organizational culture is a determinant of the performance of an organization. Hunt (2004) suggests that culture ought to be considered as "critical structure and strategy in the establishment of t he organizational foundations of high performance" (Hunt pp. 272). Many organizations have put this into use with much success. This paper will show that it is possible to manage organization culture. Special reference will be made to existing organization with special attention given to the New York Times Company. In this paper it will be shown how organization culture can be managed and real life cases of such will be mentioned. In the discussion the significance of managing culture will be incorporated.
An existing good culture ought to be supported and reinforced. Management team is core in the construction of culture which can steer an organization into a high level of performance. The top management executives are key to the implementation of a good culture in organization. David Thurm (2005) argues building a good organizational culture calls for boldness. He links the fear of failing as an obstacle to making these bold moves, "since failures are memorized in steel and concrete, companies are hesitant to make the bold moves that will yield true innovations"(Thurm pp. 122). Hunt (2004) agrees with him and gives a classic example of CEO Mike Walsh of Union Pacific. Under Walsh there were bold cultural changes with the most notable ones being the "empowerment of managers at all levels" (Hunt pp. 272). Hunt (2004) further suggests that the first step in the organizational culture management should be the recognition of an organization's subculture by the management. He defines subculture has the management philosophy (Hunt pp. 272).
Management philosophy relates the key collaboration issues with the key goal related strategic issues so that a generalized way of operation is realized. Management philosophy is significant because it helps to limit ambiguity in the management of an organization. Hunt (2004) gives the following as the significance of having a well developed organization philosophy: (a) all the members of the organization are able to understand the boundaries of their company. (b) It gives an official way of handling sensitive issues. (c) Helps to boost the morale of all into good performance as the employees are aware of the path to success (Hunt pp. 272).
A good management philosophy basically should be based on good corporate leadership. For the New York Times Company their core values are based on "good corporate citizenship" according to the company this meant, "a commitment to employees and the quality of the news and information" (Thurm pp. 122). Having a good management philosophy is quite significant because it helps the organization to remain focused on the core objective in whatever they are doing. For instance, in the case of New York Times Company the construction of the New York Times Building had to be in line with the company philosophy, "we wanted a building that would make a positive contribution to the city, create a superior work environment and reflect our journalism mission" (Thurm pp.122).
Another good example is that of Cisco Systems which has clearly identified the management philosophy which links the strategic issues of growth, customer service and profitability with aspects of culture. Hunt (2004) quotes the head of the Internet Business Solutions Group, Sue Bostrom emphasizing the relationship between the culture and strategy. She is quoted by Hunt (2004) as listing the following as the major aspects upon which her group depends on for the purpose of managing employment of employees for the purpose of generation of ideas and their quick implementation.
Strategies of Managing Organization Culture
Gagliardi (1990) argues that organization control can be controlled in three levels:
Direct orders organizational control
Indirect organizational control via programmes and procedures
Organizational control by the use of Ideological theories (Gagliardi pp.21)
Hunt (2004) lists two broad strategies used in the management of corporate culture. The first strategy involves the managers helping in the modification of observable culture, the shared values and the common assumptions made. The second strategy involves the application of organizational development techniques in the elements of culture.
Strategy One: Modification of Visible aspects of culture
Managers who use this strategy manage organizational changes by modifying the visible aspects of organizational culture in an organization. These aspects will include stories, language, rituals and saga. According to Gagliardi (1990) organizations over time create their own cultural which mighty be depicted by the above mentioned values (Gagliardi pp. 16). Managers can change the stories to favor organizational performance. An instance of this can be seen with the Disney new employees. Hunt (2004) writes that every new Disney employee learns the story of Walt Disney who is said to have emphasized the idea that everybody is a child at heart and can perform (Hunt pp. 173).
The senior managers are responsible for the creation of new rites and rituals which will favor the performance of an organization. Modification of old habits to bring in new might take quite a lot time but is worth in shaping an organizational culture into performing. Hunt (2004) believes that the top managers responsible for this modification should practically show how the modification works out. The managers should devise ways to ensure the other employees are able to fit into the new modifications without many problems (Hunt pp. 274).
Hunt (2004) does not advocate for the changes made in people's values without corresponding changes in the organizational operations. The organizational operations should be should be correspondingly changed to bring out the importance of employees' contributions. Hunt (2004) gives the example of Cisco Systems where the managers appreciate the fact keeping of a dynamic change oriented culture calls for a combination of decisions about technology, managerial actions and initiatives from employees (Hunt pp. 274).
Although cultural changes require boldness in their implementation, there is need for managers to be sensitive when implementing cultural changes. The New York Times Company website lists core values of the company with the second one being, "fair treatment of employees based on respect, accountability and standards of excellence" (New York Times para. 1). When making modifications of organizational changes it will be important that the changes do not show disrespect to the employees. It is of paramount importance that the all the employees are brought on board in the modification of organization culture basically to avoid contradicting values and depicting a disrespectful picture to the employees.
Hunt (2004) warns that it will not be wise for managers to attempt revitalizing an organization through the dictation of major changes at the cost of ignoring the shared values. Hunt (2004) warns that this may just bring superficial changes but a deep analysis, according to Hunt (2004), will show that department will be unwilling to change. In implementing major cultural modifications, the managers need to carry out a deep research especially when the changes are to affect employees who are spread across a wide geographical scale with different cultural backgrounds and national values.
In the implementing major modifications on organizational changes, managers should not fail find out how those changes will affect important values of the employees in the organization. These changes should not contradict important national values which might not necessarily have been derived from the organization. What this calls for is interaction and involvement of all the employees in making cultural changes. This helps in effective management of organization culture because what should have been modified will be due to a census of all the participants and thus its implementation and management will be relatively be easy to carry out.
Strategy Two: Application of Organizational Development Techniques
The second strategy is by the application of organizational development techniques. These are important because they help in continuously developing organizational culture. Hunt (2004) defines organizational development as "a comprehensive approach to planned change that is designed to improve the overall effectiveness of organizations" (Hunt pp. 275). He adds a formal definition as the application of the knowledge gained from behavioral science in the long term efforts to improve the performance of an organization through increasing its potential of dealing with internal and external challenges (Hunt pp. 275).
Organizational development can be applied in organizations of various sizes and types. It is important that managers learn these techniques as they help in the improvement of organization performance. In most cases organization development tools are used with the assistance of external consultants. This is because they are quite comprehensive and have got scientific foundation which requires expert input. Organizational development helps in external adaptation and internal integration (Hunt pp. 275).
Organizational development is significant because it introduces change in a manner that the participants get fully involved and become confident in the execution of the change in ensuring organization al effectiveness is achieved. Hunt (2004) associates the success of an organizational development with its assumption, values and action research foundations (Hunt pp. 275).
The Underlying Assumptions of Organization Development
The foundations of achieving a cultural change in an organization are rooted in the underlying assumptions about groups, organizations and individuals. Starting at the level of an individual, organizational development is based on rules and principles which uphold respect for people and their abilities. At this level, it is assumed that individuals are accountable for their own actions and that they ca n make positive contribution towards the organization. It is also assumed that a supportive and challenging environment is good for supporting the growth needs of individuals (Hunt pp. 275).
At the group level, the organizational development methods are based on the principles that people and organizations need groups for groups. Individuals needs get satisfied through groups and as a result these groups can also help in the satisfaction of organizational objectives. Effective groups are realized when individuals collaborate with an aim of meeting organizational and individual needs. At the organizational level, organizational development is based on principles that take into account the complexity of organizations especially in its interdependent parts. The principles dictates that it be taken into consideration when changes are introduced into some parts of organization for they ca n easily affect other parts of the same organization. The principles hold that it is possible for organizations to structure jobs and governance in a manner that the organization and individual needs are met (Hunt pp. 276).
Shared Values and principles Underlying Organizational Development
Organizational development presents an approach of implementing a change in organizations by addressing two goals: the process goals and the outcome goals. The outcome goals are mainly concern with the issues external adaptation and include the achievement of improvement in the performance of tasks through external adaptations capabilities. This is mainly accomplished through group and individual efforts. The process goals are focused on internal integration. Process goals include the improvement of areas such as interaction, decision making and communication among the organization members (Hunt pp. 276).
In order to accomplish the above goals Hunt (2004) suggests that organizational development ought to assist organizations as whole to achieve the following:
Creation of an open problem solving atmosphere throughput the organization
The supplementation of formal authority with competence and knowledge
Making decisions at relevant point as far as information is concern
Maximizing of collaboration and building of trust among individuals
Creation of a sense of ownership among all the employees
Making it possible for the exercise of self control and self direction at the workplace.
Hunt (2004) gives a very succinct summary of what organizational development is aimed at,
"to improve the contribution of individual members in achieving the organizational goals, and it seeks to do so in ways that respect the organization's members as mature adults who need and deserve high quality experiences in their working livers" (Hunt pp. 276).
Action Research Foundation of Organization Development
According to Hunt (2004) action research in sense or organizational development is defined as "the process of systematically collecting data on an organization," (Hunt pp. 276) after which it is fed back for action planning. The results are evaluated by the collection and the reflection of more data after executing the planned action. Gagliardi (1990) describes in a very clear way how a research action can be carried out (Gagliardi pp. 26). Basically this approach relies on data for the purpose of solving problem and organization development.
Organizational development makes use of research action in the identification of methods which can foster effectiveness in organizations. Action research is basically used when a performance gap is identified. In carrying out an action research, the following steps are followed: data gathering, data feedback, data analysis and action planning. The process is continuously repeated to the point of achieving no performance gap after an assessment is conducted (Hunt pp. 278).
Organization Development Interventions
These initiatives of an external consultant aimed at assisting an organization to come up with an internal problem solving system. These initiatives are used in a less formal way by managers to help in the improvement of their operations. Organizational interventions can take the following forms:
Ann organization becomes effective if it is able to achieve its major performance objective with it employees enjoying a high quality work life. The interventions which are designed for system-wide application are of the following types (Hunt pp. 278).
This begins with the collection of data through the use of questionnaires. This can take a sample of the study field or the whole field depending on the scale of the field in question. The data is used to come up with an action plan discussed above (Hunt pp. 278).
These are designed for quick decisions on how an organization can be improved to better a worsening situation. These meetings can take the form of a one day meetings whereby an organizational development facilitator engages a sample of organizational members. These meetings come up with various suggestions which are refined later by the top management for immediate implementation (Hunt pp. 279).
This is the changing of the structure of the organization or some major parts of the system with an aim of improving the organizational performance. Structural redesigning is good to avoid being out dated in this time of increasing information technology. Structural redesigning helps an organization to keep abreast with today's highly dynamic environment. This also helps an organization to be situational relevant by meeting the situational demands (Gagliardi pp.30).
This is designed for problem solving. A representative section of organizational members are pulled together and engaged in small group problem solving sessions. These sessions are carried out periodically. These groups are only supplementary to the formal structure and exist temporarily (Hunt pp. 280).
Group and Intergroup Interventions
The interventions carried out at this level are directed at improving the effectiveness of groups. The interventions used to achieve this are: team building, process consultation and intergroup team building.
This is carried out in the form of a group leader, for instance, a manager, engaging the group members in the learning how a group can effectively operate. Team building involves the collection of data and working on the data to get a feedback which is used by the group members to improve its effectiveness (Hunt pp. 280).
This is designed to improve the group functioning and involves structured activities which are aimed at. Compared with team building, process consultation can be said to be more specific because of its focus on the key processes. This process is aimed at improving group abilities in such areas as cohesiveness, decision making, communication and maintenance activities (Hunt pp. 280).
Intergroup Team Building
This is a unique form of team building which is aimed at helping groups improve interrelationships. Organizational development facilitators engage in showing the groups how they perceive each other. This helps in culturing of collaborative efforts in problem solving.
Individual interventions are aimed at improving individual effectiveness in the organization. The intervention at this level is twofold and directed at improving personal issues and also to improve on career related skills. The description given by Gagliardi (1990) is an example of an opportunity given to managers to influence the other employees (Gagliardi pp.26). These interventions are inclusive of the following: role negotiation, job redesign and career planning (Hunt pp. 280).
This is a means used to clarify what is expected of employees and what they expect of each other in a working relationship. This helps to determine the sub culture of an organization and helps individual know the importance of other employees (Hunt pp. 280).
Job Redesign and Career Planning
Job redesign is the creation of congruence between career opportunities available in an organization and individual goals. Career planning is the creation of opportunities for individuals to work with the managers. This gives managers an opportunity to pass on a desired organizational culture to the other employees (Hunt pp. 280).
The application of organizational development assumptions, values and techniques makes it very possible to manage organizational culture. External adaptation and internal integration are significant in the management of organizational culture. Properly utilized with the assistance of external consultants, organizational development is quite effective in managing organizational cultures.