Organizational culture

Essay by magicyang226 May 2006

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The term "culture" refers broadly to a relatively stable set of beliefs, values and behaviors commonly held by a society. Although it is derived from social anthropology as a framework for understanding "primitive" societies (Kotter and Heskett, 1992), the concept of culture has recently been widely used in the context of organizations.

Organization's culture--the particular set of values, beliefs, customs and systems that are unique to that organization. Though Peters and Waterman's (1982) view that organizational culture is the prime determinant of organizational performance has been highly influential, other writers stress different, but no less important, aspects of culture. Keuning (1998: 46) argues that the two most important functions of culture are: 'to provide relatively fixed patterns for handling and solving problems... [and to] ... reduce uncertainty for members of the organization when confronted with new situations.' as Wilson (1992) noted that culture has come to be seen as the great 'cure-all' for the majority of organizational ills.

Academics had drawn attention to organizational culture's importance much earlier; as Albrow (1997) have shown; there was already a substantial academic literature on organizational culture well before the work of Peters and Waterman (see Eldridge and Crombie, 1974; Turner, 1971). Blake and Mouton (1969), for example, were arguing that there was a link between culture and excellence in the late 1960s. Turner (1986) traced the 'culture craze' of the 1980s to the decline of standards in manufacturing quality in the USA, and the challenge to its economic supremacy by Japan. He commented that the concept of culture holds out a new way of understanding organizations, and has been offered by many writers as an explanation for the spectacular success of Japanese companies in the 1970s and 1980s. Bowles (1989) observed that there is an absence of a cohesive culture in advance...