Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Components of a Measure to Describe Organizational Culture in Academic Pharmacy

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Components of a Measure to Describe Organizational Culture in Academic Pharmacy

Article excerpt


References to the concept of organizational culture have become increasingly commonplace in academic pharmacy. Yanchick challenged academic pharmacists to examine the current culture of their organization as they continue to integrate new opportunities into their organization's strategic plans. (1) This corroborates a strong body of research suggesting that strategic planning is almost doomed to fail without first taking an assessment of the organization's culture. (2) This assessment of culture goes beyond a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), and is a comprehensive, inclusive, and time-consuming process.

Academic pharmacy has described the need to promote a culture of scholarship, (3) assessment, (4) diversity and inclusion, (5) and one that promotes interconnectedness, camaraderie, and consistency across multi-campus institutions. (6) A Council of Deans-Council of Faculty (COD-COF) Task Force of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) identified organizational culture/climate as one of four critical and interrelated elements to promoting a healthy, vibrant, and stable workforce, along with role of the department chair, faculty recruitment/retention, and mentoring as the other three elements. (7) Their findings cite evidence that poor relationships with administrators and colleagues are the primary drivers behind academic turnover. They suggest that while faculty value engagement in challenging work, they must feel valued by their employing organization. Additionally, academic organizations must build a sense of community, with effective ones being driven by outcomes, rendering decisions based upon fact, and employ creative and supportive leaders. (8) Academia needs transformational leadership that is proactive to a quickly changing landscape while steering diverse organizations with myriad embedded rules, procedures, and ethos in working toward shared goals. (9)

Despite all this, organizations that have "healthy" cultures remain uncommon, and are often plagued with negative language used to describe organizational direction and quality improvement initiatives. (10) Willson found that unresolved conflicts about organizational culture create breakdowns of rules and ensuing pessimistic outlooks among its constituent faculty members, (11) while the climate of many academic organizations has been described as troublesome and pessimistic. (12)

The concept of organizational culture can be unwieldy to grasp and can mean different things to different stakeholders within and outside an organization. Schein defined organizational culture as "a set of basic tacit assumptions about how the world is, and ought to be, that a group of people share and that determines their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and to some degree their overt behavior." (13) While more in-depth than some, this definition makes the concept of organizational culture more difficult to understand and to measure. Tierney has among the more oft-cited and frequently conceptualized rendering of organizational culture, stating that it simply reflects "how things are done around here" as manifested through language, symbols, rituals, values, beliefs, and behavior. (14)

The measure of organizational culture is controversial. Most measurement tools adopt either a typological (ie, what type of organization is it?) or a dimensional approach, which describes a culture by its position on several continuous variables. (15) The instruments vary considerably in their having a theoretical underpinning. Many examine employee perceptions about their working environment, but only a few try to examine the values and beliefs that inform those views. Two of the latter are the Competing Values Framework and the Organizational Culture Inventory. (16,17) A review of many of these measurement approaches suggest strengths and limitations of each. (15)

Sporn noted that universities are complex and contain multiple variations of organizational culture, such as individual, disciplinary, and institutional levels. …

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