Posted: October 17th, 2013
Primarily, culture implies practicing codes, beliefs, and values that describe a given community. The customs of a community, the members’ self-image and the aspects that make it unique from other communities are its culture. Ultimately, culture is extremely subjective and illustrates the understandings and meanings that society attributes to situations, and solutions used to counter common problems. The aspect of common culture suggests possible challenges pertaining to the management of organizations (Alvesson, 2002). Indeed, organizations should be taken to represent elemental constituents of the society. People in an organization come from the surrounding community or may hail from another, and they bring with them distinct and unique cultures. In this regard, organizations should be considered individual communities with their own values in rules. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary for organizations to develop their own cultures for them to establish the quality of being ‘apart’ from and ‘apart’ of society (2002). Hence, this paper works to analyze how culture and relevant considerations determine how organizations are managed.
Culture in an organization has a connection with strategic management. Dr. Russell Ackoff in his review on systems thinking maintains that current society is undergoing imminent cultural change. Ackoff in his study makes it clear that change in this regard implies a challenge or a problem. Solving problems requires using a different way of thinking than that which created the problem or challenge. In areas depicting failure, managing an organization requires learning from the failures and mistakes. There is a need to identify the problem or challenge in question and establish why it is relevant, says the former CEO of Procter and Gamble, A G Lafley. The issue in this case is the change in culture, and the challenges or problems this poses to an organization.
Change in culture from an organizational context implies changing the corporate images, values, and ethos that facilitate action. It is imminent that this new aspect of organization life has to be implemented into the process of management. A number of central aspects surround understanding culture change. These include an evaluative element that involves social standards and expectations. These are the beliefs and values considered central to the binding of organization groups (Kotter, 2003). Secondly, culture includes material artifacts or elements. These behaviors, events, symbols, and signs embody culture. The last aspect is social interaction. This implies communication webs that define a community. Particularly important is a shared language signifying and expressing the organization’s culture. Organizations need to recognize culture as a crucial factor that accounts for failure or success.
Change is common in any organization regardless of age, industry, and size. We live in a world where change is fast and imminent. As such, organizations have to embrace change, as well. Organizations that incorporate change in their operations function well while those that ignore change often struggle to survive. The concept of change has indeed become common in most organizations today. However, how organizations manage change varies greatly depending on the people and change involved. Kurt Lewin in this case developed a change model that explains how change can be managed properly.
Primarily, this model requires recognizing three major stages of change to facilitate implementation of the change required. The model first involves cultivating change motivation (unfreeze). Lewin requires movement through the process of change through the promotion of effective communications and enabling the people to apply new methods of working (change). The process concludes when the organization achieves stability (refreeze). This is necessary for the creation of confidence and knowledge for embarking on another inevitable change. If real change rather than short –lived or cosmetic is to take place in an organization, it has to occur at the cultural level. Corporate culture has a variety of strong attractions as change levers.
First, there is a need to explicitly create culture. One has to be aware of conditions necessary to change their culture. An organization’s ability to become culturally innovative depends on the credibility of top management, and managers have to take the initiative of building strong values. Ultimately, culture helps resolve bureaucracy through formal procedures that inculcate integrity. The period of the 70th century has overseen the growth in organizations as they respond to a changing environment through crises adaptable cultures. Foundation concepts in organizational learning maintain that managers need to cultivate harmonious relationships by merging common goals with individuals.
Epstein (2010) states that while managers accept that organizational culture is essential for overall success and stability, some do not appreciate their role in shaping it. It is a common belief that culture is predetermined. However, this assumption is incorrect. It is critical that managers across all levels recognize their roles in developing good working environments to facilitate employee satisfaction (Kotter, 2003). Employee dissatisfaction is one cause of turnover and poses negative environment and cost to the organization. Satisfying employees indeed is not easy to achieve. However, it can be tackled through taking into consideration conduct and local norms applying to the management and employees.
In this regard, it is vital to understand that each culture needs being approached with an appropriate analysis of its norms. It is not possible to prevent completely unethical behaviors at all levels of the organization. However, recent research was able to establish that senior staffs have a tendency of having positive perceptions of organizational ethics compared to their junior counterparts. This can be attributed to regular ethical lapses junior staffs are subjected to such as sexual harassment, bullying, and fudging reports. Therefore, managers looking to cultivate employee satisfaction should work to ensure ethical lapses in the organization are controlled or entirely eradicated.
Additionally, managers may as well find complexity theory concepts helpful in organization formats (Epstein, 2010). For example, in accordance with the butterfly effect, minor differences can end up being large differences in the condition of a system. This concept hence requires authoritative control and management of factors such as culture change and ethical lapses. Another useful concept, fractals, is complementary of the concept of self-organization. This concept requires managers to refrain from being obsessive on control. Rather, they are required to allow the systems of the organization to regulate themselves. Many managers are yet to implement this approach.
Ultimately, culture plays a significant role in influencing management thinking. Culture in an organization has become among the constituents of successful management. Apparently, organizational culture appeals strongly to management concerns by making an organization look like a society of interests. Most importantly, culture is a tool that penetrates an organization’s essence. It is almost similar to the way personality describes an individual. Its core values and mission have become important assets for modern organizations. However, there is the question regarding whether it is possible to manage organizational culture. Indeed, organizational culture can be managed, and this is facilitated by having an informed understanding on its constituents.
Change is imminent especially from an organizational perspective. Change in organizational culture is necessary for the survival of any organization. Change in this regard implies changing the corporate images, values, and ethos that facilitate action. It is imminent that this new aspect of organization life has to be implemented into the process of management.
From the foregoing, it is imperative any organization seeking to succeed in its respective course to embrace culture management. First, there is a need to explicitly create culture. The organization needs to be aware of conditions necessary to change culture. Another recommendation towards achieving this requires developing a credo or code of conduct that stipulates values designed to guide the organization. Additionally, there is a need to establish an ethics committee in the organization with a mission of creating necessary infrastructures that promote organizational values. The ethical aspect of an organization needs to exhibit integrity. With organizational learning, such an integral part of development, education forums should be established and have to educate on ethical and cultural issues of the organization.
Another recommendation rests with the implementation of the seven-complexity theory concepts. The concepts of this theory should be implemented in organizational culture as well as strategic management. Areas of application include an understanding on how firms or organizations cope with demanding conditions such as culture change and how they adapt to their environments. Furthermore, organizations should be considered complex adaptive systems because they exhibit self-organization principles such as co-evolution, interdependence, and self-similarity.
Alvesson, M. (2002). Understanding organizational culture. London: SAGE.
Epstein, M. J., Rejc, B. A., & Yuthas, K. (2010). Implementing sustainability: The role of leadership and organizational culture. Strategic Finance, 41-47.
Kotter, J. P., & Heskett, J. L. (2003). Corporate culture and performance. New York: Free Press.
Schein, E. H. (2006). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sergiovanni, T. J., & Corbally, J. E. (2004). Leadership and organizational culture: New perspectives on administrative theory and practice. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
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