Literature Review

Literature Review 3


Theorigin of Organization Culture

Thetopic of Organization Culture is quite diverse it is thereforerelevant to understand its origin before defining or classifying

Thediscourse on organizations is laced up with analogies of adistinctive biomorphic, sociomorphic and anthromorphic zest. In thefirst place, all organizations both profit and non-profit making haveobjectives and purpose for existence, and go through phases, arebeleaguered with challenging conditions, and subjected to implacablemedley processes (Allaire &amp Firsirotu, 2000). The anthropomorphicsymbol bestows corporations with moral fiber, personality and needsor with archetypal human cognitive processes. Nonetheless, in animportunate and prevalent analogy, firms are conjured up as“societies writ small” (Allaire &amp Firsirotu, 2000). A hugecohort of scholars in management employed the metaphor oforganizations as “little societies”, as social system outfittedwith social structures, norms and socialization processes. It iswithin the precepts of this expansive metaphor that the theory ofculture in organizations assumes its connotation (Leland, 2009).

Socialscientists have exemplified the concept of organizational culture asa perspective in organizational theory over the last five decades.Brown (1998) indicated that contemporary interest in organizationalculture shoots from four main sources human resource management,climate research, conviction perspectives that accentuate thestructural and rational nature of the organization and nationalcultures to be able to provide a ample elucidation of organizationalbehavior (Manetje, 2009).

Theorigin of organizational culture from the national cultureperspective is pegged on the research conducted by Kennedy and Deal(1982). Based on this outlook organizational culture is viewed as avital cog in the success of an organization, rather than otherelements such as politics, structure and strategy. Interest inorganization culture from the view of the HRM and performanceperspective stems from the notion that organizational culture isperceived to be providing a flexible, non-mechanistic and inventiveapproach to understanding the way that organizations function. Inthis light organizational culture is regarded as the best antidote toall the problems present in the environment where the its operates(Manetje, 2009).

Numerousconceptual frameworks of the notion of organizational culture focuson understanding the concept of organizational culture by employingclassifications and typologies that include:

Scheinused three distinct level to exemplify organizational culture, thatis artefacts, values and fundamentals underlining assumptions(Mihaela&amp Brătianu, 2012).Hosfede underscore that cultures vary based on five key dimensions,that is collectivism, confusions dynamism, power distance,uncertainity avoidance and femininity/masculinity (Waisfisz, 2012).O’Reilly et al.(1991) highlighted seven basic features that can beused to describe organizational culture, which are attention todetail, team orientation and stability, innovation, peopleorientation, risk taking and outcome orientation (O’Reillyetal.2013).

Thetypologies stated above of organizational culture offer a wideoutline of the variations that exist between scholars in theirdescription of this concept.

Whatis organization culture?

Inthis vein it is presumed that if firms are miniature societies, thenit follows that they ought to depict evidence of discrete culturalqualities. In the same way that personality depicts the uniquefeatures of human beings, individuality in organizations isillustrated in terms of differing cultures. This begs the question ofthis phenomenon that gives an organization a distinctive attribute–culture and its importance in the realm where that assorted,protean concept emerges under a range of pseudonyms and guises(Allaire &amp Firsirotu, 2000). In organization theory, culture isusually viewed as an indeterminate, immanent attribute of anysociety, as yet another contingency element with a ranging and littleunderstood incidence on operations of organizations.

Theimportance of Organization Culture

Organizationalculture encompasses premises that a given group shares and holds incommon. It entails structural stability and is embedded throughoutthe organizations policies, traditions, language and customs (Leland,2009). Organization culture can be observed by looking at what theworkforce wear, the time that they go to work and even how the officespace if distributed. The policies, principles and ideologiesfollowed by an organization are the key ingredients of its culture.It is the culture of the workplace that shapes the way that anindividual relates with different groups of individuals inside andoutside the company (Leland, 2009).

Themain function of organizational culture is to delineate the approachof doing things in order to offer meaning to organizational life.Making meaning is a central role of organization culture, since theworkforce need to learn andbenefit from the experiences andlessons of previous members (Manetje, 2009). As a consequence theemployees are able to benefit from the errors and trials relating toknowledge previous members had managed to accumulate. As mentionedabove organizational culture is a crucial determinant oforganizational behavior which determines the success of businessoperations. This is possible through classification of primeobjectives, the manner and way that the workforce should address andrelate to each other, and how to conduct personal relationship(Manetje, 2009). Many theorists concur that organizational cultureperforms a crucial role in the success of the firm and this ispossible through:


Reductionof uncertainty


Controland coordination and


Hosfede,Schein and O’Reilly concur that organizational culture conveys asense of identity to the employees in a firm, serves as a controlmachinery that shapes the behavior and attitudes of the workforce,creates peculiarity of a firm from the rest in the industry andboosts social system stability as a social adhesive that helps tobind the organization by offering apt standards of what the workforceshould do or even say (Manetje, 2009).

Organizationsas a culture

Diverseconcepts of culture, emanating from sociology and anthropology havebeen used to organizational studies from 1980s. These two disciplinesrepresent two main frameworks, and have immensely contributed to thevarious theories and models of organizational culture. Sociologyadopts the functionalist outlook and describes culture as somethingthat an organization possesses (Leland, 2009). On the other hand,anthropology assumes the interpretive outlook and views culture as ametaphor for organization. In this light organizations are describedas being cultures. In spite of the separate outlook and descriptionof organizational culture, there appears to be a move towards acommon ground.

Organizationas Sociocultural systems

Ina perception similar to that of earlier anthropological model ofculture, organizations are visualized explicitly as socioculturalsystems (Allaire &amp Firsirotu, 2000). Their conceptual elementspattern of values, beliefs and shared knowledge and meanings areinterconnected with social structure elements. The socioculturaltheory is centered on the evolutionary processes, structures andfunctioning of the sociocultural systems. The formal and symbolicelements of an organization are presumed to be mutually supportiveand attuned all the time, and very little consideration is given tothe potential discord between the cultural aspects of theorganizations, or to the analysis of their distinctive ideationalsphere (Allaire &amp Firsirotu, 2000). The following part willexemplify theories of sociocultural systems conceived by researchersin the field of management and relate them to particular schools

Modelsof organization culture

Functionalistsschool views on culture

Functionalistsdescribes culture as a pattern of basic assumptions, developed,invented and discovered by a particular group, as it searches forways to muddle through problems inherent in its external environment,and internal integration, that has functioned well enough to beregarded valid and therefore is to be taught to new employees as thecorrect way to feel, think and perceive in regards to underlyingproblems (Mihaela&amp Brătianu, 2012).

Thereare numerous schools or authors listed as ‘functionalists’ andwho propose different prescriptions to attain a more harmonious fitbetween an organization and its member’s needs. Nonetheless, allschools of thought under the umbrella of functionalism share the viewthat organizations are sociocultural systems that should reflecttheir members’ needs in their processes and structures. Oneproponents of functionalist school of thought is Edgar Schein. Scheinhas extensively studied organizational culture and has created amodel that is referred to as the Schein model of organizationculture.


Basedon the precepts of Schein model, organizations do not adopt a culturein a single day, rather it is molded in the due course of time as theworkforce go through different changes, adapt to the prevailingexternal environment and solve problems (Mihaela&amp Brătianu, 2012). In this way they acquire useful informationfrom past experiences and begin practicing it each day and in theprocess form the culture of the workplace. The Schein theory oforganizational culture has three fundamental levels of culturalmanifestations: – artifacts, values and Assumed Values / beliefs- areseparate levels but influence one another

Levelsin an Organization Culture according to Schein


Thisis the feature of the organization that can be viewed easily. Feltand heard by individuals. It encompasses aspects such as the dresscodes of the workforce, facilities available in the organization,mission and vision, office furniture, and behavior of employees.These characteristic are important because they decide the culture ofthe workplace (Mihaela&amp Brătianu, 2012).Depending on the nature of the policies adopted by the top mnagementand the attitude of the workforce, an organization can have a weakculture or a professional culture.


Accordingto Schein the next level that constitutes culture is the values ofthe workforce in an organization. Schein states that the values ofthe employees working in a given firm perform a crucial role indetermining the organization culture. The attitude and thoughtprocess of the workforce has a strong effect on the culture of anygiven organization. What the workforce thinks matters immensely foran organization (Mihaela&amp Brătianu, 2012).The frame of mind of the people associated with any particular firminfluences the culture of the workplace.


Theother level is referred to as the assumed values of the workforce andeven though it is not measurable, it makes an immense difference tothe culture of the organization. There are certain attitudes andspecifics that remain hidden but that influence the culture of theorganization such as the inner elements of the human nature that haveprofound effects on how an organizations runs its affairs (Mihaela&amp Brătianu, 2012). For example in firms where female employeesdominate the members of the other gender, management may not believein late sitting, due the reason that many female employees are notvery comfortable with such a kind of culture. On the other hand,Schein states that the male workforce is more belligerent and wouldhave problems with such a kind of culture. Schein states thatorganizations adhere to particular practices that are not discussedoften but that is understood on their own. (Mihaela&amp Brătianu, 2012).

OrganizationalCultural Profile

O’Reillyetal,has developed the organizational cultural profile that is based onidea that cultures can be distinguished by values that are underlinedwithin organizations. Their model makes distinction based on sevenself-reporting tools:-respect for people, team orientation,innovation, aggressiveness, stability, attention for detail andresult orientation (Mihaela &ampBrătianu, 2012).

Themodel is apt for measuring how organizational cultures impacts theperformance of a firm, and appraises the most suitable individual fora given organization, so that an organization can be exemplified ashaving a good culture. Workforce vale is assessed based onorganizational values to predict workforce intentions to stay andforecast employee turnover (O’Reillyetal.2013).Theorganization culture profile is important is assessing the commitmentof a given employee to the organization.

HofstedeCultural Theory

Hofstedecultural dimensions theory is another model that has been developedto describe different indicators of organizational cultures. In hisstudy meant to find aspects of culture that might influenceorganizational behavior in 50 different countries, Hofstedeestablished that culture is a subject to national political systems,profession, sub cultural groups and family (Waisfisz, 2012). Hisstudy covered More than 160, 000 International Business MachinesCorporation (IBM) employees in three distinct geographical regions ofthe globe. Hofstede states that cultural differences reflectdifferences in social action and thinking. In this light he statesthat for an organization to reap value from cultural difference thereis need for a change of mental program (Waisfisz, 2012). He contendsthat if even some groups such as the Basques and Jews have managed tomaintain their cultural identity for many centuries, their valuesdepict adaptation to the dominant cultural environment. Hosfedecontend that there are regional and national cultural grouping thatinfluences the behavior of firms. He identified six key dimensions –Power Distance, Long/Short Term Orientation, Masculinity/Femininity,Uncertainty Avoidance , Individualism/Collectivism, andIndulgence/Restraint of national cultures, that influence thebehavior and culture of an organization (Waisfisz, 2012).

TheComplementarity theory

TheComplementaritytheory isamong the oldest theory but very powerful in conceptualizing aspectsof organization culture. The theory was introduced by Edgeworth(1881), an economic theorist. According to the Complementaritytheory, increasing one factor increases the benefits of increasingits complementary factors. The theory focuses on mutually reinforcingfactors that influence the culture of an organization, which in turninfluences the performance of the organization. The main argument inthe theory is that resource allocation should focus on complementaryfactors together rather than allocating all the resources in onefactor alone. For example, (Zhu, 2004) finds that investinginfrastructural development of information technology solutions ande-commerce capabilities brings more value to the organization morethan investing in IT or E-commerce alone.

Milgromand Roberts (1990) are among the first authors to apply the conceptput forward by Edgeworth in the Complementaritytheoryto understand organizational productivity. They contend that firmsare in a position to enhance productivity if they engage incomplementary activities where they benefit from doing more of oneactivity while also doing more on another activity that complementsthe first one. The global business world has witnessed theresurgence of the Complementaritytheoryin the 21stcentury especially in the field of information systems. More and moreand more authors currently agree that IT functions in theorganization are complementary to other features of the organizationand most of its core functions. This study, therefore, supports theEdgeworth’s assertions that complementary business processes arelikely to derive more value for the organization if they receivedconcurrent resource allocation and support that if the organizationalconcentrated in fulfilling either of them. Thus, organizationalculture and dynamic IT capability are complementary in effecting firmperformance. For a business to achieve optimal performance from ITsolutions, organizations need to merge their IT capabilities with aninternal culture that accommodates new technologies whenever they areadopted. The absence of such an accommodating culture lackscomplementarity hence, denying the organizations the value it wouldhave obtained if both factors existed through organizational support

Comparisonof Hofstede cultural theory, O’Reillyetal,Organizational Cultural Profile and Schein model

Thenotion of organizational culture has been very important in theanalysis of organization of behavior for the last three decades. Inspite of the difference in relation to some of the elements ofdefinition and evaluation, scholars appear to agree that culture maybe a vital element in deciding how well an employee fits in aspecific organizational context (Sarros,Gray &amp Densten, 2003).Based on the functionalist approach as projected by EdgarSchein, an individual’s culture fit is principally drawn from aninteractional psychology view in which aspects of both the employeeand situation combine to influence a focal personal reaction to aparticular condition (Mihaela&amp Brătianu, 2012).This is a view that is disputed by structural functionalism who statethat individuals behave in particular ways depending on the structureand general operations of the organization. This means that if anemployee joins an organization that has maintained a culture ofdishonesty they are likely going to adjust their behavior to fitinto the system. In this regards aspects of an employee, such asexpectations and values, interact with facets of prevailingenvironment, such as norms and incentives, to influence theindividual behavioral and attitudinal reaction.

EdgarSchein and O’Reilly concur that job choice, organizational climateand work adjustment rest on the ability of an individual to evaluaterelevant aspects of culture (Mihaela&ampBrătianu, 2012). Nonetheless Hosfede indicate that this measurement is significantand in some situations a controversial issue, in the sense that it isat the epicenter of a person-situation debate. This means that theextent to which context or personality variables can exemplifybehavior and attitudes variables is limited. Nonetheless, thetheorists concur that organizations are socio-cultural systems thattake on varied forms, as they adapt to prevailing conditions in theenvironment in which they operate (Sarros,Gray &amp Densten, 2003). In this light, culture is regarded as animportant factor that can influence the operations, and performanceof an organization, by shaping structures and processes depending onthe environmental factors.

Comparisonof Hosfede’s cultural theory, Schein’s theory, and theComplementarity theory

Thetheories agree on one aspect: the organization has the power toinfluence its internal culture so that it can fit its long-termobjectives. Edgeworth, Schein &amp, O’Reilly, and Hofstedealsoagree that employees come into the organization with divergent viewsof what constitutes a concordant working environment. Thus, theorganization has the primary role to design a cultural spectrum thataligns employees to the long-term and short-term objectives of thefirm. Hofstede asserts that the external environment in which anemployee originates make them to come into the organization with adifferent view from that of others in the organization. Edgar Schein&amp, O’Reilly, also imply the ease of an employee to adjust tointernal culture of the organization depends on the time they take toconceptualize and understand the cultural set up. Edgeworth alsoagrees that unless the firm identifies complimentary activities thatdefine the internal culture, they may never achieve the optimal valueof investing in different functional systems such as IT andE-commerce.

Thetheories differ in the approach to designing organizational culture.While Hofstede and Edgar Schein &amp, O’Reilly give a generalizedview of how organizational culture can be streamlined to suit itsobjectives, Edgeworth is more specific. Edgeworth’s specificitylies in the identifying, financing and supporting complementaryprocesses as a culture that enhances value on every investment thatan organizational makes on an internal function.


Allaire,Y. and Firsirotu,E., M., 2000. Theoriesof Organizational Culture.University of Quebec, Montreal.

Leland,M.S., 2009. Understaning Organizational Culture: UnderstandingTheoritical and Practical Applications.PublicAdministration and Public Policy Vol.1

Manetje.O.M. (2009). OrganisationalCulture.Available at :[Accessed on 26/4/2015]

Mihaela,G.V.and Brătianu, C., 2012. Organizational Culture Modeling.Management &amp Marketing .Challengesfor the Knowledge Society, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 257-276

O’Reilly,C.A., Chatman,J. and Caldwel,F.D., 2013.People and OrganizationalCulture: A Profile Comparison Approach to AssessingPerson-Organization Fit. TheAcademy of ManagementJournal, Vol.34 (3), 487-516.Available at: &lt[Accessed 24 April 2015].

Sarros,C.J., Gray,J. and Densten,L.,2003. TheNext Generation of the Organizational Culture Profile. MonashUniversity Faculty of Business and Economics.

Waisfisz,B2012. Anorganizational cultural perspective.[Online] Available at: &lt[Accessed 24 April 2015].