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Organizational Culture: Terminology and Concepts

Organizational culture is one of the most important factors that influence the organization’s response to its environment. Organizational culture gives the guidelines on how people should behave while at their workplace. Strong cultures can greatly influence people’s thinking in an organization (Snell & Bateman, 2009). A company can benefit from a strong culture that facilitate the right thinking and encourages good organizational behavior. Conversely a strong culture that encourages improper conduct can to a great extent hinder an organization’s vision (Snell & Bateman, 2009). Strong cultures can also bring about behaviors that are harmful to an organization in cases of a merger where the merging companies have strong cultures. On the contrary, there are weak cultures characterized by people with different values, confusion about corporate goals with no clear guidelines on decision making. This kind of culture leads to poor organizational performance (Snell & Bateman, 2009).

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Organizational culture is a major issue in the organization’s management practice. Cultural dimensions are central to any organization’s success. Employee’s feelings, thinking, values and actions are guided by ideas, meanings and beliefs of a cultural nature (Alvesson, 2002). In most contemporary organizations, corporate culture receives a lot of attention and is seen as crucial. Awareness of a culture and the interest in it vary from one company to another. Managers credit their success to the company’s culture (Alvesson, 2002). Many organizations lose or prosper depending on the type of culture that they choose.

“Organization behavior is the study of the behavior and nature of people within organizations as well as the behavior and nature of organizations within their environments (Miner, 2007, p. XII)”. From the management view “it is the behavior of people as they work together; their attitudes, experiences, expectations, needs problems and changes in both individuals and groups as they interact at work (Harris & Hartman, 2001, p. 2). Managerial concerns sometimes focus on increasing productivity, forgetting that the employees need to be taken care of. Organizations design their work plans in away that work is done efficiently. Each person is more efficient at something and it is the work of the management to lead them to their best place of work. Employees need to be motivated so as to feel that they are part and parcel of the organization (Harris & Hartman, 2001). Managers should understand that there are many ways of doing things. Individual employees have different needs thus require unique attention (Harris & Hartman, 2001).

“Diversity is the variety that exists in race, gender, ethnic or cultural background, age, sexual orientation, religion and physical or mental capability (Streater, 1999, p. 1)”. The word diversity seeks to summarize the way people differ from one another. As years go by, the organization’s workforce continues to reflect the demographic changes that began many years ago. Some positions in many organizations that were considered to be strongholds for men are now being joined by women. These changes have come about because of many factors such as increase in career aspirations, changes in educational systems and creation of workplace schemes that support diversity. Some people view women as inferior and this attitude may result in significantly different treatment within the organization (Miller, 2008).

A diversified organization has widespread communication networks in such processes as socialization, decision making and conflict management. Therefore organizations which do not diversify their workforce are subjected to limited network access that exposes them to many disadvantages and limited knowledge (Miller, 2008).

Communication is all about the creation of meaningful systems in families and cultures. It is more of understanding market segments to enhance persuasion and increase sales in a business setting. Communication can help an organization to beat its challenges (Miller, 2008). Strategic communication functions direct, inspire, and coordinate; it arises from the management plans. “Effective communication is above all about conveying meaning (Rouse, 2002, p. 58)”. Awareness of the organization’s culture is important for effective communication as the framework of communication is culturally defined (Rouse, 2002). A thorough understanding of communication provides a competitive advantage in both individuals who can apply its strategies and organizations that organize themselves and apply business communications better than their competitors (Rouse, 2002).

According to Carolyn Corvi the vice president and general manager of airline production at Boeing, “one earthquake instigated cultural change in the organization (Corvi, n.d, p.3)”. It changed the nature of working in the organization which was characterized by office workers separated from mechanics and manufacturing employees. Working together increased production and encouraged a cultural shift for team work and regular communication among all employees. Corvi decided to move the employees into a vacant warehouse so that they can work together in a different way. The employees were assigned work that encouraged them to consult one another for effectiveness. Working together with mechanics and manufacturing employees helped them to solve problems immediately as they arose. Sharing of different employees’ ideas broke down the production barriers. As a result of this cultural change, the organization is now experiencing quality production within a shorter duration than it used to be (Corvi, n.d).

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Alvesson, M. (2002). Understanding Organizational Culture. New Barry Park, California: SAGE.

Corvi, C. (n.d). Case Study: The Boeing Company. 2010. Web.

Harris, O. & Hartman, S. (2001). Organizational Behavior (2nd ed). Binghamton, NY: Routledge.

Miller, K. (2008). Organizational communication: Approaches and Processes (5th ed). Florence, KY: Cengage Learning.

Miner, J. (2007). Organizational Behavior: From Theory to Practice. Armonk, NY: M.E Sharpe.

Rouse, S. & Rouse, M. (2002). Business Communications: A cultural and strategic Approach. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning EMEA.

Snell, S. & Bateman, T. (2009). Management: Leading Collaborating in a Competitive World (8th ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

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Streater, C. (1999). Diversity and Doing Business: A Look at Diversity Issues for the Real Estate Professional. Chicago, IL: Dearborn Trade Publishing.

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