Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Organizational Culture in Bank Mergers & Acquisitions

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Organizational Culture in Bank Mergers & Acquisitions

Article excerpt

Culture Defined

For anthropologists and other social and behavioral scientists, culture is the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another. In other words, it is the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. These patterns, traits, and products are considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population. Taylor in 1871 (as cited in Taylor 1958) defined culture as: "Culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society".

Organization Culture

Like society and other groups, organizations also have a way of functioning, constellation of beliefs, values, habits, norms of behavior and nature of interrelationships that are unique and form the culture. Organization culture is defined as, "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one organization from another" (Hofstede 1997:180). Schein (1983:14) defines organization culture as, "the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration-a pattern of assumptions that is considered fit enough to be considered valid, and therefore, to be taught to the new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems". Kotter (1992:6) says, "When people talk of 'the corporate culture,' they usually mean values and practices that are shared across all groups in a firm, at-least within senior management".

Schein (1985) suggests that culture can be analyzed at different levels. The term 'level' refers to the degree to which cultural phenomenon is visible to the people outside the organization. These levels range from the very observable and felt manifestations of culture to the deeply embedded and unconscious basic assumptions. The latter form the essence of culture. The three levels as suggested by Schein are artifacts, espoused values and basic assumptions. Artifacts include the visible products of the group such as architecture of the physical environment, language, technology and products, artistic creations, and the style as embodied in clothing, manner of address, emotional displays, myths and stories told about the organization, published lists of values, observable rituals and ceremonies and so on. The level of culture is easy to observe but difficult to decipher. All of a group's learning is a reflection of its leader's or founder's values. The proposal or solution as provided by the individual will achieve the status of a value only after the group, to whom the solution is proposed, takes action and its members together observed the outcome of that action. If the outcome is favorable and is perceived by the group as successful, the process of cognitive transformation starts. First, the perceived value is transformed into a shared value or belief, and if action based on it continues to be successful it finally gets transformed into a shared assumption. These shared assumptions are normally taken for granted, are non-discussible and are supported by articulated sets of beliefs, norms and operational rules of behavior. These beliefs, values remain conscious and are articulated because they serve the normative function of guiding the behavior of members of the group and training new members on how to behave. Basic assumptions, on the other hand, are those that are never confronted or debated and hence are very difficult to change. Re-examination of basic assumptions temporarily destabilizes the cognitive and interpersonal world of the members of the organization leading to high levels of anxiety. This is what partially explains stress amongst employees during times of organizational change. …

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