The term ‘culture’ is one with many definitions. Mead and Andrews (2010) confirm this by stating that the definitions of culture are “many and varied.” These many definitions range from rules, to values, feelings and norms (Mead and Andrews, 2010).
Culture and its various meanings
Mead and Andrews (2010) distinguish the various definitions of organizational culture into three namely; organizational culture as a constructed product, as a set of organic norms and as a continual process of negotiation.
Organizational culture as a constructed product views culture as a set of rules, structures and systems that the management of a business can set up to try to ensure that their staffs conduct business in a certain way that would foster business goals and targets. For example, at Procter and Gamble, to ensure a culture of honesty, transparency and fairness when dealing with suppliers, management has set up a supplier handling process that involves three functions, purchasing, production and finance departments. The structure is designed to ensure that contracts are double checked every step of the way to discourage fraud and to eliminate the chances of favoritism when dealing with suppliers. This way, Procter and Gamble has managed to ensure that honesty and transparency are eschewed by its employees, no matter where they come from. This structure also ensures that suppliers can hardly complain about not being well attended to. In the case of a dispute, it is easy to find out what went wrong and correct the problem on time and in a win- win manner.
As a set of organic norms, culture refers to the mindset of the ‘way things are done around here’ as opposed to any laid down set of rules. In this situation, management will probably have a hard time trying to set up new laws to contradict the status quo. They have to find a way to ensure that changes are made to the mindset and thinking pattern of staffs rather than by enacting new rules.
Organizational culture when defined as a continual process of negotiation is a lot like a mixture of the previous two definitions, in that it recognizes the fact that cultural change is a gradual process. There are certain aspects of organizational culture that can be changed immediately and by the use of rules, such as rules that define disciplinary actions in a bid to prevent violence. However, there are other norms and practices that are inculcated gradually into staff. Norms such as respect for your fellow man have to be impressed on staff gradually, by way of examples, discussions and business guidelines. When referring to settling disputes and negotiations, some rules can be set for how negotiations are conducted, for example, management can state specific roles that must be in attendance during negotiations to ensure negotiations go as smooth as possible and to avoid disputes. On the other hand, management can also implicitly encourage its staffs to air their views in a respectful manner...