Corporate Culture Of A Bulgarian Organization Cultural Studies Essay

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Corporate culture is the collecticve behaviour of people using common corporate vision, goals, shared values, beliefs, habits, working language, symbols and system.

It is the unwritten value-set that management communicates directly or indirectly to the employees and they all know and work under.

According to Edgar Schein, one of the most distinguished theorists of the organizational culture, organizational culture can be described as:

"A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems" [1] 

Corporate culture can also be defined as:

"A set of common understandings around which action is organized, . . . finding expression in language whose nuances are peculiar to the group." [2] 

Louis defines the corporate culture to be:

"A set of understandings or meanings shared by a group of people that are largely tacit among members and are clearly relevant and distinctive to the particular group which are also passed on to new members." [3] 

"A system of knowledge, of standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating and acting . . . that serve to relate human communities to their environmental settings." [4] 

Another definition of organizational culture stated by Trice and Beyer:

"Any social system arising from a network of shared ideologies consisting of two components: substance-the networks of meaning associated with ideologies, norms, and values; and forms-the practices whereby the meanings are expressed, affirmed, and communicated to members" [5] 

Every company has its own culture or value set. The corporate culture of an organization is usually created unconsciously and is based on the values of the top management or on the values of the founders of the company.

The corporate vision is a summed up formal vision statement that describes what the company intends to become in the future and the company has to set realistic and achievable goals in order to succeed. It is the overall goal that all business activities and processes should conduce toward achieving. Ideally the workforce should be committed to, and driven by the vision because it is the staff who makes it happen. When the current vision is achieved or nears achievement, a new corporate vision or an evolution of an existing one should be established.

The corporate goals are the specific aims that the organization commits to attain in order to achieve the corporate mission and organizational objectives. The corporate goals can be short term and long term goals. Short term goals can vary from the time determined for them - day, week, month, year and as short term goals, they can differ for every company. Results from short term are extremely relevant to the achievement of the company's long term goals or objectives.

The shared values as described by J.Kotter and J. Heskett are the important concerns and goals that are shaped by the most of the people in the group, that tend to share group behaviour and that often persist over time even with changes in group membership.

Classifications of Organizational Culture

There are several classifications of the organizational culture:

Open culture - in this type of culture the management has faith in the employees, between the management and the employees there is an open communication and the management is tolerant. This type of culture is referred to a liberal leadership.

Closed culture - is more conservative, it counts on the hierarchy, the regulations and on control. This type of culture is associated with a dictatorial leadership.

Strong cultures - exist where the employees respond to stimulus because of their alignment to the organizational values. In a strong corporate culture all managers share a set of relatively consistent values and methods of doing business and all new employees adopt these values very quickly. Organizations often after making a statement of their shared values known, encourage their mangers to follow the statement. The values of a strong culture tend not to change after a change of management is done. Strong cultures create an unusual level of motivation in employees - their shared values and behaviours make people feel good about working for the firm and make them feel loyal to the company.

Weak culture - it is found where there is little alignment with the company values. A weak culture is when employees in an organization don't agree on the same values and beliefs that are applied to the organization and people tend to their own beliefs and behaviour. In a weak culture control must be exercised by rules, extensive procedures, supervision and bureaucracy.

Corporate culture has been classified by other authors. A classification made by Charles Handy [6] divides organizational culture in four types:

Power Culture - it is a culture that concentrates power among few and the control radiates from the center like a spider web. The power is spread out from the top person or group.

Role Culture - there is a highly defined organizational structure and all the employees have determinated authorities.

Task Culture - in this type of culture there are teams that are formed and their task is to solve particular problem or problems.

Person Culture - in this type of culture all individuals believe that they are superior to the organization.

Another classification was made by Deal T.E. and Kennedy A.A. in their book Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life. They made a corporate culture model based on four types of culture and they have divided those four classifications of corporate culture based on the terms Feedback and Risk:

The tough - guy macho culture - with rapid feedback and high risk;

The work hard/ play hard culture - it has rapid feedback and low risk;

The bet your company culture - it has slow feedback and high risk;

The process culture - with slow feedback and low risk;

Hofstede's Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values identifies five dimensions of culture:

Small vs. large power distance - In cultures with small power distance, the employees accept easily consultative and democratic power relations. In cultures with large power distance, more dictatorial approaches are expected.

Individualism vs. collectivism - in individualist cultures people develop their own affiliations, while in collectivist cultures, people act as a member of a group.

Masculinity vs. femininity - in the masculinity cultures people value ambition, competitiveness and the ambition of becoming wealthy, while in femininity cultures relationship and quality of life are most valued.

Weak vs. strong uncertainty avoidance - in cultures with strong uncertainty avoidance, determined rules are what people prefer. In this type of culture employees tend to retain their place in the current job. In cultures with weak uncertainty avoidance more flexible rules are preferred by the employees.

Long vs. short term orientation - In long term oriented cultures employees value the attitude that affects the future, while in short term oriented cultures the attitude that is valued is affected by the present or the past.

Of course those are not the only classifications of corporate culture made by theorists. There are a lot of them, but the basis is included in the above mentioned.

Levels of Corporate culture

The corporate culture can be analyzed at different levels. According to Edgar Schein there are three distinct levels in the corporate culture:

Artifacts - the visible organizational structures and processes (hard to decipher).

"Artifacts include the visible products of the group, such as the architecture of its physical environment; its language; its technology and products; its artistic creations; its style, as embodied in clothing, manners of address, emotional displays, and myths and stories told about the organization; its published lists of values; its observable rituals and ceremonies." [7] 

Artifacts are also the organizational processes, the structural elements of the company and basically the formal descriptions of how the organization works.

At this level of culture it very easy to observe but very difficult to decipher.

Espoused beliefs and values - strategic goals, philosophies (espoused justifications).

"All group learning ultimately reflects someone's original beliefs and values, their sense of what ought to be, as distinct from what is. When a group is first created or when it faces a new task, issue, or problem, the first solution proposed to deal with it reflects some individual's own assumptions about what is right or wrong, what will work or not work." [8] 

This level is based on the proclaimed culture of the organization's members. The espoused beliefs and values are company slogans, mission statements and other operational creeds. They are often expressed within the organization. These values can often be helpful in a way of bringing the group together, because they may serve as a source of identity and core mission. It is a common practice that those espoused beliefs are expressed in a company's website.

Underlying assumptions - unconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and feelings (ultimate source of values and action).

This is the deepest level and here the organization's unspoken assumptions are found. Schein asseverates that the underlying assumptions grow out of values, until they become taken for granted. He says that:

"When a solution to a problem works repeatedly, it comes to be taken for granted." [9] 

Schein also affirms that the basic assumptions have become so taken for granted, that it is hard to find within a member of a group little variations.

Those basic, underlying assumptions often exist even without the knowledge of the organization's members.

Schein describes the basic assumptions as a mean to "what to pay attention to, what things mean, how to react emotionally to what is going on and what actions to take in various kinds of situations". He also makes an example on how unconscious assumptions can lead to unwanted endings by illustrating a common Asian employee's behavior while working with American manager. The example shows the result form the contradiction between different cultural traditions.

Corporate Culture of a Bulgarian Organization

Different cultures have very different ways of managing people. Some cultures prefer the consultative nature of decision making. They engage a work group or include all the employees of the department to make a decision. This type of management is known as 'management by consensus'. A lot of western companies try to adopt Asian ways of consensus management. It is even said that women will be the better future managers since they build more easily consensus and common goals than traditional male managers.

Another trend, forced by the downsizing of the management's layers of the company, has introduced a new way of making decisions - employees have to use their own initiative, without consulting with their superiors first. The purpose of this trend is to leave the company only with a top level of managers and with front-level managers and employee that have direct contact with the customers and the public. This empowerment is a new form of management control by which managers would be able to control more easily the operations and they will ensure that the general business plan is followed strictly.

History of Mobiltel

Mobiltel is the first and largest GSM mobile phone operator in Bulgaria. It was found in 1994 as a joint stock private company and is currently the market share leader in its operating sector.

In 1995 The company was accepted as a full-right signatory to the GSM Association and the M-Tel GSM Network of Mobiltel AD has been commercially launched.

In 1997

Mobiltel AD commercially concluded roaming contracts with 40 GSM operators from 30 countries. The GSM Network ensured coverage of the main Bulgarian cities Sofia, Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv and Pazardgik. Mobiltel's subscribers were 15 100.

In 1998 the number of Mobiltel's subscribers at the end of January reached 16 800. M-Tel Trading, a company of Mobiltel, was founded as an exclusive trade representative of the Bulgarian GSM operator. The company of Mobiltel - GPS Bulgaria, was founded for development and launch of Global Positioning System services, integrated with the GSM network, on the territory of Bulgaria. The company of Mobiltel - Teleport Bulgaria, was established with the aim to construct and exploit the first VSAT network in Bulgaria.

In 1999 Mobiltel registered 257.4% subscriber growth compared with the same period the last year. For the previous year the rated growth of Mobiltel's subscribers is 320%. The company's revenue rose 159%. According to Wall Street Journal's magazine Central European Economic Review, that is the seventh best result among the companies in Central Europe, and the second best result among the GSM operators in the region. Mobiltel's GSM network provided 60% coverage of the Bulgarian territory and 85% coverage of the population and reached 100 000 subscribers.

In January 2000 Mobiltel AD reached its 200 000th subscriber, in June the subscribers were 300 000 and in November they were 450 000.

In the year 2001 together with Capital Municipal Council and the Foundation „Future for Bulgaria ", Mobil Tel supports the opening of a new wing of the 50 th primary school " Vassil Levsky ". The company donates 50 thousand Leva. In April on the basis of the decision of the Sofia City Court some changes of the structure of the firm have been recorded. "Mobiltel" AD is restructured to a sole share society with two-stage system of governing and with sole shareholder " L.L. TelecommunicationHolding B.V.

In October 2001 the first millionth subscriber of Mobil Tel has been registered. Bulgaria celebrates one week along with " M- Tel ", a special team of the company organizes a lot of games with prizes during the two week tour in the country.

In June 2002 The Club of Trade Leaders - Madrid awarded to "Mobiltel" the Golden Trophy for Quality - the award is presented for the merits of the company in improving the quality of customer service. And in December, M-Tel was chosen as Company of the Year according to Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Trade.

In 2004 M-Tel launched Mobile Internet and WAP over GPRS and reached 100% signal coverage of the Sofia Subway. The company changed its ownership for € 1.2 billion. On September 21st, 2004, M-Tel has registered its 3rd millionth subscriber

In 2005 M-Tel supported The Hematology Center. Equipment for more than 200 000 levs will secure the treatment of patients, who have been subjected to the transplantation of marrow. And in July Mobiltel became part of Mobilkom Austria Group. The acquisition became the largest foreign investment in Austria's economic history.

In 2006 Superbrands Bulgaria appointed M-Tel as the best brand in Bulgaria.

In May 2007 Mobiltel became the first mobile operator in Eastern Europe with a certificate for accurate assessment of the services, used by the clients. The certificate is issued by BABT (British Approvals Board for Telecommunications) and secures the invoice correctness, as the probable error is only 0,002%. And in the same year Mobiltel became general sponsor of "The museums and galleries' night" in Plovdiv. The event comprised 40 exhibitions and museum expositions.

In 2008 an open contest for social projects started Mobiltel within the new program Grant M-Tel. The mobile operator starts a campaign to research projects for integration and socialization of disadvantaged people. Together with that M-Tel started activity program about short number 1788 supporting four social causes.

Later that year M-Tel becomes social responsible company of the year within the initiative of Pari Daily, The ministry of labour and social policy, Association Partnership for corporate social responsibility (APCSR), the program for development of OON and the Association of the industrial capital in Bulgaria. The mobile operator is been awarded among 200 competitors at the first in Bulgaria national contest for the most active company in the area of the corporate social responsibility.

In June 2009 Mobiltel receives the honorary head-of-state sign by the President of the Republic of Bulgaria the highest honorary sign of President is an award for the special merits of Mobiltel company in the sphere of social-responsible policy, for its charity works and for its contribution to the development of Bulgarian sport and culture.

Since today the company has always offered the newest high - tech solutions to private customers and enterprises. Their social politics has helped them become the most influential telecommunication company in Bulgaria.

The company's performance can be illustrated with Hewitt analysis.

Engagement and business results

Hewitt analyzes since 1994 the connection between employee engagement and market success. The results show unambiguous correlation in the cases of most of the financial indices.

Companies are analyzed by Hewitt based on the following aspects:

feedback from the employees

people management polices

view of the top management

Engagement at Mobiltel is 58% in 2008 which is 17% higher than 2007 (41%).

Engagement in 2009 is 65 % - 7% higher than 2008. This result puts the company in the Performance zone.

People at Mobiltel have greatest satisfaction with colleagues and line managers. They like their work activities and the work environment; also believe they have the necessary resources to be as productive as possible.

Mobiltel's Strengths

Support from line managers

Good relations with colleagues

Company reputation as an employer and on the market

Satisfaction with training and development

Employees enjoying their day-to-day work tasks

Benefits plan meets employees needs well

Mobiltel's Opportunities

People to feel they are being treated like valued members of the company

Employees to perceive their pay as fair and reflecting their contribution

Work processes to allow employees to be as productive as possible

The opinion of Mobiltel's employees is based on the following questions:

Question: Your satisfaction of working environment

Question: What is your assessment of Mobiltel's working conditions compared to other companies

Clearly established lines of communication in Mobiltel makes it easy for everyone to express their ideas and give feedback to their managers, wherever they work. And you're always kept up to speed with all of the latest company news too.

The Company's vision, goals and beliefs

The Company's Brand

The world today is increasingly based on connectivity, communication is more important than ever, and technology continues to offer new ways to share experiences and seek to remove restrictions on communication. As a leading mobile operator in Bulgaria, Mobiltel is happy to be a protagonist of this scene and to be the connection to the world of millions of people. This is a responsibility that gives the company the power to change things together in a direction that makes life easier and more pleasant. The ability to enforce the belief that the organization is truly useful, made people believe in the company and that is why together the name M-Tel was affirmed to be the largest community in Bulgaria. The values that guide the organization proved to be shared by millions of people. Innovation, trust and sense of community are not just concepts, but a reality that has the power to unite. The confidence, with which Mobiltel defends these values, makes the management believe in the future and always look ahead. Because each of the company's achievements becomes part of every person's life, part of their own success. That is why M-Tel will continue to be a community to which people in Bulgaria most wish to belong.

Innovativeness

With all the technical innovations we make life easier, more dynamic and modern. The belief that the company can be useful in any moment inspires them in the introduction and implementation of new technologies. Courage, with which the organization acts, and the quick management reactions, makes the company a part of the world. The responsibility that the job is well done and the result of having made millions of people happy is what makes the company feels satisfied.

Trust

Trust creates the opportunity to communicate freely and creates a new world. The company is happy because the faith of so many people made it a part of their success. Mutual trust is what provides the necessary insurance to be always genuine and open. Trust is the force that turns the respect and care for every single person in real action. Because it is the customers can always rely on the company.

Community

Community is a place of shared ideas and values. The privilege to be part of it provides tranquility, confidence and at the same time creates a sense freedom and prerequisites for more opportunities. Communication is what each community is based on and therefore the company's relationship with people is their main value. The huge responsibility to unite the largest community in Bulgaria makes them listen to each voice. And what truly makes the company happy is knowing that customers find their place in the organization's community.

M-Tel brings together the largest community in Bulgaria

Trust has the power to unite. Millions of people chose to rely on the company and thus gave the opportunity to the company to help them communicate, share feelings, experience the wonderful moments, to overcome difficulties. All those people have recognized themselves in the organizations brand and thereby M-Tel became the largest community in Bulgaria. The company unites people who are able to experience the dynamics of time, people who have the power to take life into their own hands and to determine their own future. The customers trust was won because the company has been honest and open in communicating, friendly and responsive to every action they takes. Thanks to the confidence that all their customers pass a vote of, the company continue to develop and provide the most direct way of communicating to any person who relies on them.

Quality of service

Market principles in the telecommunications business today requires from the company high quality service, professionalism and respect for every client. In this aspect and to assist all departments in the company, working directly with clients, general standards for quality of service have been implemented in order to provide excellent quality of service. Achieving and maintaining this excellent quality in long-terms is the main goal of the general standards that are based on the existing experience within the company and the world's best practices.

 

Each employee in the company works with clients on a daily basis, whether they are users of Mobiltel's services, colleagues, partners or suppliers. Therefore the company believes that the developed standards will be beneficial for both sides. Guarantee for the success of the new concept is that all personnel works together to enhance the customers' satisfaction.

Artifacts

When you enter Mobiltel you get into a building with open office architecture, you see the company's dress code and manners, a very dynamic environment, and a high rate of interaction among employees, seemingly reflecting enthusiasm, intensity, energy, and impatience.

The furniture in the lobbies and offices is functional, and the company was mostly headquartered in an old industrial building that had been converted for their use.

The company canteen is spread out into a big open area where people are sitting at large tables, eating and speaking and obviously are intensely involved in their work

even at lunch.

The company is organized in terms of functional directions - Technical, Finance, Marketing and Sales. Nevertheless there is a search in functional units for a structure that would "work better."

There are several levels in the company's hierarchy and the hierarchy is to be taken very seriously. It is the same with the communication structure .There are many committees for decision making and a lot of meetings organized on a daily basis.

The company has an electronic mail network that functions in a group of Telecom Austrian members, which is a new trend that allows all the employees to be linked by e-mail and enables them to cooperate over the Internet even without leaving their current office. Of course there are engineers and managers that travel frequently and are involved in Group's meetings, which are held every couple of months.

All the employees of the group are judged by what they contribute to the company instead of the time they spend on every project.

In the organization there is a mixture of different cultures - Bulgarian, Austrian, Slovenian, Croatian, Macedonian and Serbian.

Espoused beliefs and values

The clear and mutual goals make the Group successful player. The group slogan is 'Think globally, act locally'.

Corporate goals in Mobiltel are clearly defined. It is the Top management that set goals, creates company's vision and deals with long term issues. They are cascaded from Top management to Divisions, from Divisions to Departments, from Departments to Sectors and from Sectors to Employees.

The payment of all employees on those levels depends more or less on the achievement of the corporate goals. At the same time there are individual goals for each employee and their bonus depends on the fulfilment of these goals.

Employees in the company are responsible for thinking what they are doing, but they need to listen to what their superior says.

The company's philosophy is to create friendly atmosphere among its employees by developing teams in every division that are formed to perform certain task or a goal. It is a common practise that different kinds of events are conducted every month: such as team meetings, team buildings etc. Such events tend to unite different people (even from different countries), help employees get to know each other better and create a core that is productive, efficient and friendly oriented. Common used method is brainstorming which helps employees by enhancing their abilities to reach solutions to different problems; it affects the quality and quantity of ideas created by a team.

Underlying assumptions

All employees in the organization interact with each other and know that they are more efficient when working in a group. It is a taken for granted belief that they will be rewarded for the company's prosperity. Also it is common unconscious perception that each employee should stick to the established rules and practises.

As a result of the strong corporate culture, the underlying assumptions help employees make decisions more easily and naturally.

Mobiltel can be classified as a Strong, Open Culture Company where the employees agree with the organizational values and have an open relationship with the management. It can be also classified as a mixture of a Power and Task culture since the power is concentrated among few, but there are teams who occupy with particular problems.

Mobiltel is one of the largest companies in Bulgaria and it is a perfect example of a company with strong corporate culture, clearly defined goals and vision.

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