Many organizations create a culture that gives them a competitive advantage. They may focus on customer service, emphasize employee involvement, or incorporate technological innovation in their product development or service delivery. In this chapter we first explore the nature, levels, and functions of organizational culture. Next, we investigate how to create, maintain, and change a culture. The discussion then turns to business ethics in the workplace that influences how a business functions, such as individual and corporate ethics and includes an emphasis on ethical standards managers can use to decide on the proper way to behave toward organizational stakeholders. Social responsibility and the institutionalization of ethics within an organization are described before concluding the chapter with a look at the issue of diversity.
At the outset, we can say that organizational culture is not the easiest concept to define. It is a complex and deep aspect of organizations that can strongly affect organization members. Informally, culture might be thought of as an organization’s style, atmosphere, or personality. This style, atmosphere, or personality is most obvious when we contrast what it must be like to work in various organizations such as General Electric, Nordstrom’s, the U.S. Marine Corps, or the New York Yankees. Even from their mention in the popular press, we can imagine that these organizations provide very different work environments. Thus, culture provides uniqueness and social identity to organizations.