Academic journal article
By Hofstede, Geert; Neuijen, Bram; Ohayv, Denise Daval; Sanders, Geert
Administrative Science Quarterly , Vol. 35, No. 2
Measuring Organizational Cultures: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study across Twenty Cases This paper presents the results of a study on organizational cultures in twenty units from ten different organizations in Denmark and the Netherlands. Data came from in-depth interviews of selected informants and a questionnaire survey of a stratified random sample of organizational members. Data on task, structure, and control characteristics of each unit were collected separately. Quantitative measures of the cultures of the twenty units, aggregated at the unit level, showed that a large part of the differences among these twenty units could be explained by six factors, related to established concepts from organizational sociology, that measured the organizational cultures on six independent dimensions. The organizational culture differences found resided mainly at the level of practices as perceived by members. Scores of the units on the six dimensions were partly explainable from organizational idiosyncrasies but were also significantly correlated with a variety of task, structural, and control-system characteristics of the units.
The "Organizational Culture" Construct
The term "organizational cultures" entered the U.S. academic literature, as far as we know, with an article in Administrative Science Quarterly by Pettigrew in 1979 ("On Studying Organizational Cultures") and is thus a relatively recent addition. In the U.S. management literature, the same term, in the singular, had been casually used by Blake and Mouton (1964) to denote what others then called "climate." More customary became "corporate culture," a term that had already figured in an article by Silverzweig and Allen in 1976 but which gained popularity after a book carrying this title, by Deal and Kennedy, appeared in 1982 and especially after the success of its companion volume, from the same McKinsey-Harvard Business School team, Peters and Waterman's In Search of Excellence, which appeared in the same year. Since then, an extensive literature has developed on the topic, which has also spread to the European language areas accessible to us.
"Culture" has become a fad, among managers, among consultants, and among academics, with somewhat different concerns. Fads pass, and this one is no exception. Nevertheless, we believe it has left its traces on organization theory. Organizational/corporate culture has acquired a status similar to structure, strategy, and control. Weick (1985) has even argued that "culture" and "strategy" are partly overlapping constructs. There is no consensus about its definition, but most authors will probably agree on the following characteristics of the organizational/corporate culture construct: it is (1) holistic, (2) historically determined, (3) related to anthropological concepts, (4) socially constructed, (5) soft, and (6) difficult to change. All of these characteristics of organizations have been separately recognized in the literature in the previous decades; what was new about organizational culture was their integration into one construct.
The literature on organizational cultures consists of a remarkable collection of pep talks, war stories, and some insightful in-depth case studies. There is, we believe, a dearth of ordinary research as taught by standard behavioral research methodology textbooks. Such textbooks (e.g., Selltiz et al., 1965; Blalock and Blalock, 1971) tell the student to start with a qualitative orientation and to follow up with a quantitative verification. The research project described below has attempted to do just that. We were guided by three main research questions:
First, can organizational cultures be "measured" quantitatively, on the basis of answers of organizational members to written questions, or can they only be described qualitatively? In operational terms, the issue is whether membership in one organization rather than another explains a significant share of the variance in members' answers to questions dealing with culture-related matters. …