Custom Search

Popular Posts

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Organisation Culture

What is organization culture? Describe how organizational culture change can take place ? illustrate from an organization where culture change had taken place.
Ans : Organization culture covers a wide range of behaviour : the methods of production, job skills and technical knowledge, attitude towards discipline and punishment, the customs and habits of managerial behaviour; the objectives of the concern, its way of doing business, the methods of payment, the values placed on different types of works, belief in democratic living and joint consultation, and the less conscious conventions and taboos.

Definitions of Culture :
According to Schein (1885) the term “culture” should be reserved for the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously, and that define in a basic “ taken-for-granted” fashion an organisation’s view of itself an its environment. The assumptions and beliefs are learned responses to a group’s problems of survival in its external environment and its problems of internal integration.

By looking at evolving social units within a larger host culture, we also can take advantage of learning theories and develop a dynamic concept of organizational culture. Culture is learned, evolves with new experiences, and can be changed if one understands the dynamics of the learning process. If one is concerned about managing or changing culture, one must look to what we know about the learning and unlearning of complex beliefs and assumptions that underlie the social behaviour.
To summarize, culture of an organization mean “a pattern of basic assumptions- invented, discovered , or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with 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.

Because such assumptions have worked repeatedly, they are likely to be taken for granted and to have dropped out of awareness. Note that the definition does not include overt behavior patterns. Behavioural regularities could be as such a reflection of the environment as of the culture and should, therefore, not be a prime basis for defining the culture. Or, to put it another way, when we observe behaviour regularities, we do not know whether we are dealing with a cultural artifact or not.
The importance of understanding organizational culture and its contribution towards making change relevant and meaningful, may lie in several issues. One needs to care very deeply, first as an individual, second as a member of whatever kind of team one plays on, and third as a world citizen struggling to make sense of the times one lives in.
First, there is a part of every job where the buck stops right there. And in that piece of your job you need the insights of grand strategy. All of us face these four great questions. They are inherent certainly to every management position, and increasingly to every other job in the decentralized, task oriented, knowledge-worker world that is emerging as the beginning of the new century. Without a clear, integrating and grand strategy your actions are bound to be fragmented at best, and at odds with each other at worst. In less competitive, more stable times maybe it did not matter as much, but today it has become a condition for survival, let alone success.

Second, in the complex, interdependent system that is the modern organization we all need to be aware of our organization’s grand strategy, so that we can play our role and help others play theirs. Even if we don’t make the ultimate decisions, we certainly play a part in getting them made for our immediate unit and increasingly, as various forms of participative management are more and more widely adopted, for the whole organizations.

Finally, in every age man wants to believe that there is something special about this particular time, that it is an important moment in the history, and that there is an opportunity to be part of some great event or movement which will leave its imprint on the history of the human race. Something important, something special has been going on in every age. May be that is true by definition—being man’s response to, or attempt at exploitation the change that never ceases in our world, in our ideas about it and in our capabilities for dealing with it. May be the real challenge is not so much to try to figure out how to make our time special, but to find what’s special about our time, so that we can contribute to it, gain the most from it and above all learn to manage it so that it does not manage us.
Key factors in cultural changes :

  • Understand the old culture : Managers cannot change their course until they know where they are.
  • Encourage change in employees: Reinforce people in changing the old culture and those with new ideas.
  • Follow outstanding units: Recognize outstanding units in the organization, and use them as a model for change.
  • Don’t impose cultural change : Let employees be involved in finding their own new approaches to change and an improved culture will emerge.
  • Lead with a vision: the vision provides a guiding principle
  • Large scale change takes time : It may take three to five years for significant, organization wide cultural change to take effect.
  • Live the new culture : Top management values, behaviors, and actions speak louder than words.

Since there is evidence that an organization’s culture is a key factor in its success, it is important for organization to have an appropriate culture for its context and type of operation. It is to be expected, therefore that managers should at times want to change the culture of the organization with the aim of producing a better performance. Culture change, in fact, becomes desirable for a number of reasons. If the company have grown very rapidly, the culture which was appropriate when it was smaller may no longer suit a larger organization. Takeovers, mergers or other forms of reorganization will also normally require adjustments to the culture, particularly where there are significant differences between the cultures of the organizations concerned. Technological changes in production add changes in the environment, such as increasing competition, will also have cultural implication. It is therefore supervising that ‘culture change’ has become a growth industry for management consultants.

It has to be said, however that changing culture, if it can be done at all, is a difficult and long-term process. This is not surprising when it is considered that in most organization the existing culture is extremely well embedded. It has usually been set by the original founders and in many cases developed and reinforced over long periods of years. Even relatively new organization will often have absorbed their culture from forerunners or from organizations with which they feel an affinity or they feel to be similar. Universities founded in the last half of the twentieth century, for example, have absorbed much of their cultures from their medieval forebears. The way we relate to students and the commitment to research and scholarship and many of our practices all derive frome this source. It is quite surprising that how long some of these practices have survived, even though of doubtful relevance to modern life.

Despite the difficulties, many companies have made quite significant changes in culture; how is this done? Cumming and Huse (1989) provide some practical advice by suggesting series of stages that must be considered and appropriately managed :

Clear Strategic Vision: it is important to start a culture change with a clear view of the direction and purpose of the proposed change. Why is it necessary to change and where is it hoped to end up ? very often this will be enshrined in a company ‘mission statement’. This is a statement of company’s goals and how it intends to achieve them. It is important that this should be a clear and precise statement of organizational goals , not just a set of ‘motherhood’ statement, from the point of view of culture, is that it will embody the value which the company leadership espouses, an thus provides purpose and direction for the cultural change.
Top management commitment: It is important that top management are committed to change, and are seen to be committed. Culture change can only be managed from top down. This is because only top management have the power to make changes in the values and deeper structure of the organization.

Symbolic leadership : senior managers must behave in ways which are consistent with the new culture. More than this, it is necessary to do so with enthusiasm, so that the new culture is communicated through their actions. Hence the need for real internalized commitment at the top.
Supporting Organizational Changes : It is essential to make changes in the organizational structure, reporting procedures and management styles to bring them into line with the new culture. It is for example, impossible to move towards a culture embodying participation and empowerment if the organizational systems still require detailed reporting in a strictly hierarchical line system of management. New organizational procedures can also be used to make people aware of the changes that are taking place and encourage the new behaviors which are required.

Change Organizational Membership : Bringing new members into the organization, who already subscribe to the required organizational values and practice is a considerable help to the process of change. By the same token, helping those who do not wish to accept change to leave will also speed the process. (An activity which Cumming and Huse rather sinisterly refer to as termination of deviants). One organization known to make change from being a Govt funded research organization to become a commercial consultancy. This entailed a change of culture resembling a university department to a reasonably aggressive sales-oriented culture. While new mission statement were issued and considerable restructuring took place, one of the main factors in the culture change was a deliberate policy of hiring new personnel with commercial experience an values, coupled with redundancy programmes which enabled those who dislike the new philosophy to leave.

Changing organizational membership, in this context, does not only mean hiring and firing. It is possible to change, by a number of means, the attitudes and beliefs of individuals who remain within the organization. The most obvious of these is through training and development, but other techniques includes formal communication programmes, use of role models who display the required new behaviours (often these are provided by new members hired by as part of the change programme), counseling programmes and participating with organizational members in developing new culture. Attention to the reinforcement patterns is also important, to ensure that only the required behaviours are being reinforced, and the old patterns which it is wished to change are extinguished.

Hofstede has suggested that successful culture change needs the joint action of two parties- a power holder and an expert. These terms are derived from a German study and are translations of Machtpromotor and Fachpromotor. In practice the Machpromotor would normally be the chief Executive or a group of senior managers; the Fachpromotor would be an outside expert. The expert’s role is to provide diagnosis of the existing culture. An outside expert is needed for this, as it is virtually impossible for a member of the organization to have a clear and unbiased view of its culture. Based on this diagnosis, the power holder can then make the required culture changes part of the organisation’s strategy.
By way of summery an in concluding this section it is worth noting Hoftstede’s view of culture change :

“Although culture is a ‘soft’ characteristic, changing it calls for ‘hard’ measures. Structural changes may mean closing departments, opening other departments, merging or splitting activities, or moving people and /or groups geographically. The general rule is that when people are moved as individuals, they will adopt the culture of their new environment, when people are moved as groups, they will bring their culture along. People in groups have developed as part of their culture, ways of interacting which are quite stable and difficult to change. Changing them means that all interpersonal relationships have to be renegotiated. However, if new tasks or a new environment force a renegotiation there is a good chance that undesirable aspects of all culture will be cleaned up.”


Blog Widget by LinkWithin