"Ethos of an organization can often make a significant contribution to a company's success" (Edwin L. Baker). Ways of doing things and attitude of individuals matter a lot, so culture of an organization and its management really matters. This essay is started with the human aspect of culture followed by the critical evaluation of the management of organizational culture in the light of literature. Managerial perspective, social science perspective and finally point of view of researchers who showed neutral response are discussed in this essay (Huczynski, A. and Buchanan, D., 1985). This is supported by real life examples of companies like Google, IBM, ICI paints and Palm-Toy Inc. This is followed by concluding comments on the basis of arguments given by realists (Ogbonna and Harris, 2006), according to them changes in culture are possible within some limitations.
Every human being has a unique identity that represents his/her personality. This distinctiveness is result of the culture in which the person is brought up. Culture is set of shared values, norms and beliefs shared by a set of people living in a same society (Schein, 2004). Every organization has its own unique "identity" or "Personality" by which it is recognized. Set artifacts, shared values and basic assumptions are learned by the members of an organization to attain collective goals and mission. These factors build up the personality of an organization (David W. Young, 2000). This exclusive identity is known as the "Organizational Culture". E.g. Google has a unique culture that is informal. They work in the form of clusters which promotes the team work. Employees of Google are hired on the basis of talent rather than experience. So the culture of Google has given the company a unique personality and this leads to the competitive advantage in the industry as it has increased the employees' commitment (Stephen P., Timothy A., 2007).
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Cultures are created or modified to solve the problems caused by the technology and competition. To keep organizations competitive in dynamic environment, change is required. But the important factor is to decide that can change be managed within existing culture or not?
According to the managerial view culture is something that an organization "has". Researchers argued that culture of an organization is taught to the new joiners. With this argument they believe that culture can be created or modified by the top management (Smircich, 1983). These researchers believe in the concept of "unitary" and are of the view that organizations possess single culture which is aligned with the goals of organization and this culture is communicated to the employees through "Symbolic Leadership" (Huczynski, A. and Buchanan, D. 1985). Change in culture can be planned and controlled whenever it's dysfunctional. E.g. IBM has gained much reputation and competitive advantage in the industry because of the strong culture managed by Gerstner. He said that "Culture is everything." He introduced dynamic sales culture which was very successful.
On the other hand taking a social science viewpoint, culture is something which an organization "is". It is learned by members of the organization with passage of time. Culture is the base and no organizational management can change it. They are of the view that culture cannot be managed in short term by following the formal procedures of implementing change. Organizations have subcultures as every person has its own set of values and traditions which can just be managed through "management control". So it is very difficult to change the culture and identity that is built over time. Companies like AT&T and General Motors faced many difficulties during reshaping of their cultures.
Then comes the neutral perspective where the researchers think of the solution and according to them culture ought to be modified to cope up with the competing environment, new technology and dynamic working environment. Organizational culture should act as dynamic forces in order to achieve best organizational goals (Edwin L. Baker, 1980). "Culture is not static." (Michael, S. 1984). According to him culture is needed to be managed in order to catch up with the pace of economic growth. To manage it three steps should be taken into account. Meaning and effect of culture should be understood by managers on the first hand then determine which aspects of culture are counterproductive and finally decide what actions ought to be taken in order to implement the change effectively. E.g. During my internship at ICI Paints, Pakistan, I came to know about their newly adopted culture of "open door policy". Every employee can communicate freely with other even with the CEO. This cultural policy is taught to every new employ by old employees. This policy has helped the company to communicate effectively.
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"Creativity doesn't come from hiring the right people, but from creating the right conditions" (Max McKeown, 2008). This is a very important factor because failure to manage the changes for new conditions can lead to dreadful situation instead of improving. E.g. "Case of Palm-Toy Inc.", discussed in the tutorial of organizational behavior, clearly shows the poor implementation of change. The process of molding the toys and then painting was changed in order to increase the productivity. This cultural change was implemented in the autocratic leadership style initially which was not accepted by the members of the organization and thus leads to the inefficient production. The leadership style was at fault during the implementation of change. But after the implementation of democratic style of leadership, employees become motivated and thus the outcomes were positive.
In a nutshell, managing cultural change is a difficult task because every process of implementation cannot be applied to all the situations. Some cultures are strong while others are weak. Some core values of the culture cannot be changes as they are the base of an organization but the culture should be dynamic. In this dynamic environment, a static company cannot survive for a long time because after the stage of cash cows in life cycle, company moves toward dying dogs and to avoid this situation change is essential. And in order to implement change "six levers" of culture should be employed i.e. strategy formulation, authority and control, motivation, management control, conflict management and customer management (David W. Young). This is my point of view about critically analyzing management of cultures and their interrelatedness with every aspect of organizational behavior.