The Management of International Enterprises: A Socio-Political View

By Monir H. Tayeb | Go to book overview

9
Organisational Culture

INTRODUCTION

Organisational culture is a concept which, like its two constituent parts, is difficult to define. Schein (1985), a writer who has contributed most significantly to the study of organisational culture, proposed his own definition after a brief critical assessment of other writers. He argued that organisational culture should be viewed as a property of an independently defined stable social unit. Organisational culture refers to basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organisation. These operate unconsciously, and define in a basic ‘taken-for-granted’ fashion an organisation's view of itself and its environment. These assumptions and views are based on shared experiences and have worked for a sufficiently long time to be taken for granted and be dropped out of awareness. Organisational culture, in this sense, is a learned product of group experience and is therefore to be found only where there is a definable group with a significant history.

In the same vein, Denison (1990) sees organisational culture as a code, a logic, and a system of structured behaviours and meanings that have stood the test of time and serve as a collective guide to future adaptation and survival.

Similarly, Tunstall (1983) describes corporate culture as a general constellation of beliefs, mores, customs, value systems, behavioural norms and ways of doing business that are unique to each corporation, that set a pattern for corporate activities and actions, and that describe the implicit emergent patterns of behaviour and emotions characterising life in the organisation. There have also been studies which have explored and discussed the surface levels of culture (for example rites, stories, legends and so forth) and examined their relationship to deeper levels of values and beliefs (see for instance Martin et al., 1983; Sathe, 1983; Trice and Beyer, 1984).

The origins of corporate culture could be traced, among other things, to the founder or founders of the organisation—their value systems, attitudes, beliefs, philosophy, and likes and dislikes. For instance, the founders might value hard work, honesty and punctuality, and believe in caring for employees and being responsive to their customers’ needs. They bring these values and beliefs with them to the organisations they set up. Many internationally known multinationals such as Toyota and

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