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Do You Think That The Concept Of Organisational Culture Is A Useful One In The Real World? If So, Why? If Not, Why Not?

3912 words - 16 pages

The concept of organisational culture has been discussed in great detail in management literature and despite considerable enthusiasm, has proved to be an elusive topic to define, yet alone apply. The interest in organisational culture arose principally in an attempt to understand its impact on organisational change and its utility as a concept must be judged in terms of the positive outcomes (if any) from managerial attempts to influence and modify and organisations culture.Culture - an allusive constructAnthropologists would recognise that humans are social animals and form communities to achieve common aims, through cooperation and mutual obligations. Hence, Miller & Weitz identify culture as "understandings about life experiences shared by members of a human social group" (1979:345).Ogbonna (in Billsberry ed., 1999:113) provides a definition of culture as "the interweaving of the individual into a community and the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes members of one known group from another". This is supported by Schein (1992, in Mabey et al., 1996:465) who views culture as "a patter of shared basic assumptions, invented, discovered or developed by a given group, as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration. Bate (1994, in Fulop & Linstead 1999) adds that culture is a collection of strategies for dealing with problems so that living becomes easier.These definitions emphases an interactive group consciousness as represented in 'cognitive schema' theory, where the "schemas, scripts and maps shared by the group are basically charts of the content of the group consciousness and the processes leading to the group consciousness" (Gustavsson, 1997). Schemas are constructed through experiences, starting as a simple network and developing into more complex social structures that might be observed in the "values, norms, beliefs and customs that an individual holds in common with members of a social unit or group" (Ogbonna, in Billsberry ed., 1999:113).Hence, a cultural unit provides the individual with an understanding of the behaviours, boundaries and expectations of participation and a cognitive reference for strategies defining interactions. As Fulop & Linstead (1999:91) summarise, "culture is a means of finding a way to resolve differences, of helping people work together, often through symbols which work effectively without our having to think about them". Schein (1992, in Mabey et al., 1996:465) observes that culture is "taught to new members of the group as the correct way to perceive, think and feel" when confronted with problems.Any regulated and moderated group of people will develop a culture through a process of socialisation and identification which may give the organisation an identity and personality of its own. In advanced societies, many cultural subsets have evolved and one important manifestation since the industrial revolution is the development of the...

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