Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Organisational Culture

The visible aspects of a business are normally to do with the formal organisation. These are the things than can be seen and are helpful to employees. For example goals strategy, the business structure, systems and procedures, financial resources and management. The hidden aspects are normally under informal organisations. For example, values, attitudes and beliefs.

Another way to use this is through the Iceberg Metaphor (French & Bell,1990) as you can see below. Above the waterline represents the visible aspects, these are normally taught to employees through written explanations and in lessons e.g. manners and how to behave. Below the water line represents the hidden aspects of a business. These are linked to day to day learning and behavior, For example what we understand, our assumptions and our values. 
Tesco's visible aspects would be their uniforms, their expectation to arrive on time and let the managers if they are absent. Their hidden aspects would be how polite they are to customers and their democratic leadership style. Employees are allowed to make suggestions if they prove to be useful.

There is also another theory which is called the Onion Theory. The Tomer-onion-Wood-Colby model says that an organisation is like an onion and that the outer layer is the visible aspect and as these layers are pealed off, the deeper and more hidden aspects of the company get. (Natale et al 1997) says the model could be integrated to generate a more sophisticated model of the relationship between paradigms. The onion model suggests that every organisation has a unique worldview, perhaps sharing aspects with other members of a particular industry, society or economic system.

Charles Handy was born in 1932 in Ireland and is a well know philosopher who has specialized in organizational culture. According to Handy's model, there are four types of culture which the organisations follow:

There are some organizations where the power remains in the hands of only a few people and only they are authorized to take decisions. They are the ones who enjoy special privileges at the workplace, they are the most important people and are major decision makers. These individuals further delegate responsibilities to the other employees. In a business employees have no option but to strictly follow their superior's instructions, the employees do not have the liberty to express their views or share their ideas on an open forum and have to follow what there bosses say. The managers in such a type of culture sometimes can be partial to someone or the other leading to major unrest among others. (Kandula 2006) said that power culture is when a person or group of selected people created centralized system of administration and wield the entire authority within the corporation.

Task Culture
Organizations where teams are formed to achieve the targets or solve critical problems follow the task culture. In certain organisations individuals with common interests and specializing come together to form a team, there are generally four to five members in each team. In such a culture every team member has to contribute equally and accomplish tasks in the most innovative way. (Senior et al 2010) said that the task culture is said to flourish where creativity and innovation and needed particularly in organizations concerned with research and development, marketing, and advertising and new ventures.

Person Culture
There are certain organisations where the employees feel that they are more important than their organisation, such organisations follow a culture known as a person culture. In a person culture, individuals are more concerned about their own self rather than the organisation. The organisation in this culture will take a back seat and eventually suffer. Examples of person culture are barristers, chambers and doctors. Person cultures have minimal structures and can be likened to a cluster or a galaxy of individual stars. (Naoum 2001) example of person culture was that if a group of individuals decides that it is in their own interests to band together in order to do their own thing, share an office, a space or equipment or even a clerical and secretarial assistance, then the resulting organization would have a person culture.

Role Culture
Role culture is a culture where every employee is delegated roles and responsibilities according to his specialization, education qualification and interest to extract the best of the employer. In a culture employees decide what best they can do and willingly except the challenge. Everty individual is accountable for something or the other and has to take ownership of the work assigned to him or her. Power comes with responsibility in such a work culture. An example (White et al 1991) gave was within schools how a range of tasks which require routine and uniform handling, and the absence of routine procedures can be bothersome.

Culture itself applies significantly to the society which involves individuals that are usually different or groups of people that share something in common, for example similar or the same notions. Such a diversity of personalities among the people in the organisations may come across with the differentiation of beliefs, attitudes and even values or expectations.
The factors might have an impact on the business environment and the way people actually work (Mullins 2010). The awareness of who creates the work environment is important because corporations are in fact made from people. (Robbins et al 2009) said 'It is all about the employees perception of organisations characteristics such as its purposes, long term vision and its values.

I have come to the conclusion that a culture can have a major impact on an organisation and can show its pros  and cons, i have also seen that some organisations will have strong cultures and others have weak. A strong culture is when people tend to agree on the beliefs and values within the organisation. On the other hand weak culture can be when people disagree on the existing culture and instead form their own sub cultures. It is important to have a strong culture so you can survive and beat your competitive environment.


Kandula, S.R. (2006) Performance Management: Strategies, Interventions, Drivers: New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India Ltd.

Natale, M, S & Fenton, B, M (1997) Business Education and Training A Value-Laden Process. The Developing Professional: Maintaining Values in "Practical" Training. Volume Two. Pg 31

Naoum, S (2001) People and Organizational Managment in Construction: Strategy, Structure, Culture

Mullins, L, J. (2010) Management and Organisational Behaviour. Ninth Edition: Prentice-Hall: Financial Times

Robbins, S.P. & Judge, T, A. (2009) Organisational Behaviour: Global and Southern African Perspectives. Second Edition. Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa.

Senior, B & Swailes, S. (2010) Organizational Change:Fourth Edition. Prentice-Hall: Financial Times. Pg 143

White, R. Martin & M. Stimson M (1991) The Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate: Second Edition. Pg 300.

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