Organizational culture and its implications for performance are frequent objects of professional analysis. There is an emerging consensus that organizational culture profoundly influences organizational behaviors and decisions. Shared values, assumptions and beliefs that shape organizational culture create a foundation for creating and sustaining a competitive advantage. Google is the bright example of how culture leads organizations to business excellence. Cultures are never static; their dynamics reflect and respond to the changes in business environments. Google must be able to adjust its culture to the changeable demands of the global business environments.
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Whether or not organizations can achieve business excellence largely depends upon their organizational culture. The latter is defined as “a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that show employees what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior” (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). Not all cultures are equally effective. Not all organizations can create and sustain a culture of excellence. Cultural typologies help to delineate the most desired characteristics of organizational cultures. Based on the OCP typology, organizational culture at Google is people-oriented, outcome-oriented, and team-oriented.
These characteristics create a complex cultural picture that facilitates achieving strategic and tactical goals at Google. Organizational culture at Google is outcome-oriented in the sense that it emphasizes results and achievement as essential organizational values (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). Google’s culture is people-oriented, since it promotes and protects fairness and respect for individual rights (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). Google focuses on the importance of treating its people with dignity and respect. Eventually, organizational culture at Google is team-oriented, as it emphasizes collaboration and support among employees (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011).
It would be fair to assume that leadership is the most important factor of organizational culture at Google. More often than not, organizational culture and leadership are closely intertwined (Ogbonna & Harris, 2000). Organizational culture and leadership create a complex reciprocal relationship, in which founders (Sergey Brin and Larry Page) shape the main cultural features of the organization, whereas the organization and its culture exert solid influences on the founders and shape their acts and decisions (Ogbonna & Harris, 2000).
Brin and Page exemplify transactional leaders who re-shape organizational culture to meet their vision and expectations (Ogbonna & Harris, 2000). However, they also need skills and knowledge to enable flexibility and adjustments and constantly improve their culture (Ogbonna & Harris, 2000).
It goes without saying that organizational culture greatly affects performance at Google. The relationship between organizational culture and performance has been well documented. Changes in organizational culture alter cultural climate measures and, consequentially, individual performance (Hansen & Wernerfelt, 1989). For example, achievement orientation produces direct positive effects on performance (Xenikou & Simosi, 2006).
Organizational environments that promote achievement and focus on high standards of performance are generally conducive to productivity and improved performance (Xenikou & Simosi, 2006). Organizational culture at Google encourages employees to spend most of their time at work, instead of being somewhere else (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). Organizational culture at Google encourages and welcomes innovativeness and risk taking (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). Thus, it comes as no surprise that Google employees are extremely productive, and the company constantly surprises its consumers with new, unusual products.
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Google makes everything possible to protect and retain its unique organizational culture. Hiring serves the main instrument of cultural protection at Google. Google realizes that the smartest people are also the biggest egos (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). This is the main reason why hiring at Google is extremely competitive. Hiring at Google is not even close to hiring in other organizations: it resembles a complex process of applying to a college (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011).
Google may ask applicants to write an essay about the future job (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). The company may ask eight different people to interview one and the same applicant (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). What methods of hiring Google chooses does not really matter, as long as it reflects the company’s unlimited creative potential.
Google follows the mantra of goodness with respect to users, customers, and everyone else (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). Bauer and Erdogan (2011) claim that, as long as this mantra continues to shape organizational culture at Google, the company will be able to retain its cultural individuality. However, globalization and rapid integration of markets place new demands on businesses. Failure to adjust organizational culture to the changeable conditions of business performance can become a serious impediment to cultural success at Google. Ogbonna and Harris (2000) are correct: leaders need knowledge and skills to pursue flexibility and adjustment to improve their culture. Therefore, Google must be particularly attentive to changes and developments in global business environments.
Organizational culture greatly influences performance in organizations. The relationship between organizational culture and organizational performance has been well documented. Google exemplifies a triumph of creativity and exemplary organizational performance. Its culture is team-, people-, and outcome-oriented. Google relies on the principles of trust, flexibility, dignity, and respect for individual rights. Hiring serves the main instrument of retaining Google’s cultural individuality. However, Google must be particularly attentive to changes in the global business environments and regularly adjust its culture to meet new demands of business and organizational performance.
Bauer, T. & Erdogan, B. (2011). Organizational behavior. Creative Commons: Online Edition.
Hansen, G.S. & Wernerfelt, B. (1989). Determinants of firm performance: The relative importance of economic and organizational factors. Strategic Management Journal, 10(5), 399-411.
Ogbonna, E. & Harris, L.C. (2000). Leadership style, organizational culture and performance: Empirical evidence from UK companies. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 11(4), 766-788.
Xenikou, A. & Simosi, M. (2006). Organizational culture and transformational leadership as predictors of business unit performance. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(6), 566-579.