Organizational Culture And How It Distinguishes Different Organisations

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Organizational culture refers to "a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations". It serves five basic functions of defining boundaries, giving a sense of identity to the members, encouraging commitment beyond oneself, enhancing social stability and enabling the implementation of a control mechanism.

We decided to interview a second year student of PGP, so as to get a view on MICA culture that they would have experienced personally while being on and off campus. Here is the gist of the same:

Q. What do you think is the one important aspect of MICA as a community that contributes to the 'culture' of MICA as an educational institute?

A. Freedom of thought and action - letting people do what they want to; MICA realizes that after all we are PG students and at this level it all depends on how much you are ready to grasp what you are offered.

Q. How do you think the environment contributes to maximize the self potential of the student in achieving what they intend to?

A. The facility and the much relaxed system giving enough time for introspection and ideation. MICA gives variety of courses and learning experiences - only you should be there to grasp it.

Q. What do you think is a major thing that is giving way to some kind of dissonance or distrust, if at all, in MICA?

A. I think, the problem basically lies in some people not being happy with the kind of courses offered - for example we wanted more courses that teach us the financial aspects of business.

Q. Do you think there is enough innovation or experimentation happening with the teaching methodology here?

A. It solely depends on the teachers. There is no standard way of teaching; as in it would be appreciated if every teacher followed some kind of case study based system, but everyone has a unique way of doing things - sometimes it works and sometimes not. At the end of the day, it comes down to the individual.

Q. You have been to various places representing MICA - as in during your summers. How do people react and look towards a MICAN?

A. When I joined MICA, I walked into it. Initially I got a culture shock but after sometime MICA was inside me. It remains so and reflects when you are outside and standing vis-à-vis students from other institutes. They perceive MICANs to be more confident, more colorful. We are able to get a 360 deg view of certain aspects of society because of the way things are taught here. It is hard to define MICA culture in absolute words, but it is small unique happy community within itself.

Functional Aspects of the Culture

Openness: MICA has a flat organizational structure in the sense that all the members of the organization get a fair opportunity to voice their concerns and work collectively to address and sort the issues. Students in MICA can easily approach the professors or the administration with their problems and their feedback has always been taken into consideration. The change in examination schedule for the second semester on student request serves to testify this. The administration not only agreed to rework on the schedule but also worked in tandem with the students to know what could best meet their needs and then design the schedule accordingly.

Further, the administration provides the students with feedback form after each semester to know their level of contentment with the faculty. And the next semester is then planned accordingly. This highlights how students' opinion is valued and encouraged in MICA.

Autonomy: Students have been conferred upon with a great deal of autonomy in MICA. This is clearly evinced by the existence of a number of student councils or committees through which students have been allowed to actively participate in various functions of the organization. There is MCSA that acts as a channel of communication between the students and the administration and Placement Cell that works for summer internship of the first year and the final placement of the second year students. Then there's Sankalp team, MICANVAS team, MLS, Cultural Committee and Litcom that play a significant role in organizing various cultural and literary fests in the organization.

Pro-activity and Confrontation: Members of MICA do not show complacence with the status quo. They take initiatives and constantly confront and conflict to make things better. There have been several occasions on which student representative bodies with the consensus of the batch have suggested changes to the administration. For instance, when students faced difficulty in finding time for self study due to long hours of classroom teaching, they brought the matter to the notice of the administration. The students could successfully convince that reduction in the hours of teaching would help sustain the interest and the concentration of the students in the class with the result was that the lecture timings were reduced. Further, changes are incorporated in the academic schedule to facilitate growth of the students. Like more case studies had been included in the curriculum and separate timings had been allocated in form of tutorials for it.

Experimentation: The faculty of MICA plan and implement various ways of enabling the students realize their full potential. The assignments given to the students in different subjects help them understand the concepts better and also appreciate their practical applications. Dissertation in rural areas in the second year, encouragement to the students to write journals and adequately training them for it give hands on experience to the students and make classroom teaching all the more prehensile.

Besides, there are certain courses such as business ethics that are now being considered important by the B-schools all over the world to make management students more socially conscious. MICA has in its curriculum such subjects which sensitize students to the various social and ethical issues thus instilling in them a greater sense of social responsibility.

Dysfunctional Aspects of the Culture

Unpunctuality: In several instances students of MICA could not adhere to the deadlines or to the schedules. A deadline is set well in advance, the student can plan his time accordingly and submit all his assignments on time. It is a vital part of learning in management studies which is to complete work on time. But until now the deadlines of every single assignment given as part of the curriculum throughout the two terms have been postponed not just once but sometimes twice, thrice. This kind of attitude is going to be carried into the industry by us MICAns and will result in serious consequences.

It is not quite uncommon to find students entering the class after the lecture had started. This has happened even in those cases where the professor specifically mentioned not to do it.

Inadequate weightage to certain important subjects: There are certain subjects that are highly valued and often looked for by the industry. Proper conceptual understanding of some subjects such as Management Accounting, Managerial Economics and Quantitative Techniques demands some more time. Allotting too less a time to an important subject would mean that the professor does not get enough time to cover all the concepts, let alone allotting time to students for class discussion. And sometimes, in a bid to encourage learning from class discussion, all the time is lost in class discussions and enough time is not spent by the professor to teach us the concepts.

After the time per class got reduced from 90 minutes to 60 minutes, the management should have realised that number of classes should have been increased to give justice to the subject. We had just 10 cost and management accounting classes of 60 minutes each whereas the last year's PGP1 batch had 13 or 14 classes of 90 minutes each. Not to mention none of the other colleges teaching management share our system. We are the only college offering so few classes. The point to be noted is that this will have a severe impact on our learning and hence our future prospects such as job opportunities and higher education.

Lack of sincerity in group assignments: Often in case of group assignments some students tend to lax and not earnestly contribute to the work. Either they totally abstain from the group work or produce an unenthusiastic or desultory work. This bears an impact on the group morale as well.

Certain trainings promised not offered: Eg: In the induction, we were promised instructions in MS Excel which wasn't delivered.

Respect for the faculty: There is a certain code of conduct that is expected of a student in the classroom. There have been occasions when students have violated them. For instance, using cell phones in the classroom and not obeying to adhere to the rules even when pointed out by the faculty. These kind of habits will result in professors refusing to come back to teach following batches, and other esteemed professors not willing to teach in our college.

Improper scheduling of the assignments and other exercises: In the 3 months we have in a term, we aren't engaged in assignments equally across the time period. Often we find ourselves overburdened before the end term exams, and very free in the first month.

Lack of direct communication between the student Academic Review Committee and the administration: The existing 6 member student academic review committee has only one task which is to collect information on the subjects available and the ones not being offered. They then have to present the case to the CRs. The CRs, then will approach the MCSA with the concern. The MCSA then presents it to the Administration. A system like this will surely delay the desired results so that students finally do not gain. There should be a direct communication between the academic review committee and the administration which includes the director. There should be a meeting every month to discuss the dysfunctional aspects of the curriculum with the director/ faculty.

Academic Rigour: The academic rigour in MICA's curriculum is too low compared to other management schools. The direct consequence of this is when MICAns join industry , they fail to compete with their peers from other schools. Academic rigour is very important in management schools and should be inculcated. Students can be engaged with more work related to courses like case studies, assignments in order to have learnt enough to compete with their peers in the industry.

Action Plan to amend dysfunctional aspects

To ingrain a greater sense of timeliness some more strict norms may be adopted for those who enter the class late. For example, the classroom door may be closed.

A mechanism is to be instituted for periodic apposite assessment of the industry demand to as to design the academic courses that best suits the needs of the industry. The subjects that are more in demand may be allotted more weightage in terms of time given for classroom teaching and also the credits assigned for the course.

The problem of free riding in group assignments may be better handled if certain grades are awarded for individual's performance as a group member. In case of written assignments the students may be asked to mention the parts they have worked on and then depending upon the quality produced by the individual members in the group they can be graded. This will not only ensure that all members of the group put in their sincere efforts but also that they work in tandem to produce work of better quality.

The existing rules have to be properly enforced. For example, when a deadline is fixed by the faculty, there should be no scope for extension of the deadlines. The problem of frequent postponement of deadline partly occurs due to heavy workload towards the end of the term. So, proper scheduling of the assignments may help better handle the problem.

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