Organisational Culture Types and Characteristics

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In organisational behaviour, understanding the various types of organisational culture is essential. Organisational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and behaviours that shape the way people within an organization interact and work together. Leaders can effectively manage their teams and promote a positive work environment by identifying and understanding the different types of organisational culture,

Types of Organisational Culture

Types of organisational culture present in an organisation are as follows:

1) Authoritarian and Participative Culture

In the authoritarian culture, power is concentrated on the leader and obedience to orders and discipline is stressed. Any act of disobedience is punished severely to set an example to others. The basic assumption is that the leader knows what is good for the organisation and he or she always acts in its interests.

The participative culture is premised on the notion that people are more committed to decisions made through participation than to decisions imposed on them. Further, group problem-solving leads to better decisions, because several new points and information are shared during discussions. Participative cultures emerge where most organisational members are professionals or see themselves as equals.

2) Dominant and Sub-Culture

Many big companies have a dominant culture and several cells of sub-cultures which are attached to different functions, roles and levels. If the sub-cultures are accepted, a natural conclusion is that very few beliefs, attitudes or values are shared by all organisational members.

Dominant culture denotes the core values which are shared by the majority of the employees in the organisation. It is the macro-cultural perspective plays an important role in shaping an organization’s personality. Sub-cultures are found in divisions, departments, and geographical areas and reflect the common problems or experiences of employees who reside in these areas. A sub-culture could consist of the core values of the dominant culture and the values specific to the department or area it is associated with.

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3) Mechanistic and Organic Culture

The mechanistic organisational culture reflects the values associated with bureaucracy and feudalism. Organisational work is conceived as a system of narrow specialism and people think of their careers mainly within these specialisms. Authority is thought of as flowing down from the top of the organisation down to the lower levels and communication flows through prescribed channels.

There is a significant amount of loyalty within departments and a notable sense of animosity between departments, creating a strong ‘we’ versus ‘they’ perception. This kind of culture resists innovation and change. Contrast is the organic culture in which formal hierarchies of authority, departmental boundaries, formal rules and regulations, and prescribed channels of communication are frowned upon. There is a great deal of emphasis on task accomplishment, teamwork and free flow of communication both formal and informal. In difficult situations, people with expertise may hold more influence than the formal boss.

4) Strong, Weak, and Unhealthy Culture

A strong culture will significantly influence employee behaviour, manifesting in reduced turnover, lower absenteeism, increased cohesiveness and positive attitudes. This is so because there is a high agreement among members regarding what the organization represents. The result is the variation of internal atmospheres of high behavioural control,

A weak culture is characterised by the presence of several sub-cultures, the sharing of few values and behavioural norms by employees and the existence of few sacred traditions. In weak culture organisations there is little cohesion across the organisation – top executives do not repeatedly expose any business philosophy exhibit commitment to particular values or extol the use of particular operating practices. Some organizations have toxic cultures.

One unhealthy characteristic is the presence of a politicized internal environment, wherein influential managers can establish autonomous fiefdoms and actively resist necessary changes. In politically dominated cultures, many issues get resolved based on turf, vocal support or opposition by powerful executives, personal lobbying by a key executive and coalitions among individuals or departments with vested interests in a particular outcome. What is best for the organisation plays second fiddle to personal aggrandisement.

Characteristics of Organisational Culture

Characteristics of organisational culture are explained as follows :

1) Socially Shared

Out of necessity, culture must be based on creation and social interaction. It cannot exist by itself. It must be shared by members of society, thus acting to reinforce culture’s prescriptive nature.

2) Facilitates Communication

Culture serves a valuable purpose in enabling effective communication. Culture usually imposes common habits of thought and emotional responses within a community. Thus, within a group culture, it makes it easier for people to communicate. However, culture can also hinder effective communication across groups because of a lack of shared common cultural values.

3) Prescriptive

It specifies the different kinds of behaviour that are considered acceptable in society.

4) Enduring

Culture is inherently stable and enduring as it is shared and passed along from generation to generation, it is relatively stable and somewhat permanent. Old habits are difficult to change, and people tend to maintain their heritage despite a continuously changing world.

5) Dynamic

Culture is transmitted from one generation to the next, however, one should not assume that culture is static and immune to change. Far from being the case, culture is constantly changing and adapts itself to new situations and new sources of knowledge.

6) Subjective

In various cultures, people have different ideas regarding a shared object. What is appropriate in one culture may not necessarily be so in another. In this regard, culture possesses a dual nature, being simultaneously unique and arbitrary. As a result, the same phenomenon appearing in different cultures can be subject to vastly divergent interpretations.

7) Learned

Culture is not inherited genetically. It must be learned and acquired. Socialisation or enculturation occurs when a person assimilates and acquires the cultural norms and values of their upbringing. In contrast, acculturation occurs if a person learns the culture of a society other than the one in which they were raised.

8) Cumulative

Culture is based on hundreds or thousands of years of accumulated possibilities. Each generation adds its distinct elements to the cultural tapestry, enriching it before passing the heritage on to the next generation. Hence, culture naturally expands and diversifies over time because new ideas are incorporated and become a part of the culture.

Characteristics of Organisational Culture

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