What Holds This Company Together? a Study of Corporate Culture at Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL)

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE

Like families, villages, schools, and clubs, businesses rest on patterns of social interaction and the pursuit of shared objectives. These are the essence of a corporate culture (Goffee & Jones, 1996).

The culture metaphor has been adopted by scholars from many disciplines as a means of understanding the complexities of an organization. As a result, a variety of definitions for culture have emerged, as well as a variety of ways to measure it. However, the work of scholars Glasser, Zamanou, and Hacker (1987) has been helpful in sorting out the complexities and providing a basic framework on which other studies are built. Their work resulted in a standardized questionnaire, the Organizational Culture Survey (OCS), which represents six central foci of culture common to various disciplinary fields and types of corporations. The OCS contains 36 items, and these items are grouped into six subscales representing the six foci of organizational culture: Teamwork, morale, information flow, involvement, supervision, and meetings.

Teamwork is defined as the coordination of effort, honesty, support, conflict resolution, teamwork, concern, and cooperation; it is a feeling of open group communication. Morale is defined as good working relationships, respect for workers, fair treatment, as well as a sense of family, trust, and organizational character. Information flow refers to being provided with sufficient information to do one's job well, sufficient communication to understand changes, and adequate contact with other work areas.

Involvement is the input of ideas and participation in decision making. If an employee experiences involvement, his/her thoughts and ideas count and the employee is encouraged by management to offer them. Supervision is defined as the amount, valence, and clarity of job-performance information as it is provided to employees by their supervisors. The meetings subscale refers to the productivity and democratic process of meetings.

Purpose

The purpose of the study was to identify a profile of culture that could be assessed and used to further develop the organization and help ensure a stable work force. This written report presents the results of a survey taken among 74 Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) employees. The basic question in regards to shared values and common objectives (the foci of corporate culture) was: What holds this company together? Related questions included: Do all BTL employees share the same sense of corporate culture, or do perceptions change along the lines of corporate rank, nationality, gender, and longevity with the company?

Rationale

According to Info-Line (1993), assumed similarity of perceptions within the organization is one of the greatest pitfalls in organizational operations and management. Shared values and goals among different types or categories of employees are a strength upon which the organization can grow and prosper. However, if values and goals are not shared, differences and friction have the potential to impede productivity and organizational growth. Consequently, it is important to know the areas in which employees are in agreement and the areas in which they are not.

Additionally, the study of Belizean organizations has been largely ignored. Management and organizational research in Belize is scarce, which makes it very difficult to draw valid conclusions about organizational life. Knowing where organizations share cultural values and goals with Western organizations (and other organizations of the world) is expected to aid business relations. The present investigation of organizational culture within a Belize organization is patterned after a similar study conducted in Nigeria (Onwumechili, 1996).

The study of an organizational culture must be viewed overall as well as by subgroup. As Info-Line (1993) has stated, assumed similarity among employees regarding company beliefs and values is dangerous for the company's operations. …

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