What is organisational culture?
One of the things that organisational culture is infamous for is its ability to be elusive whereby no distinct definition has emerged. However, there is a general agreement that it does exist and that it plays a critical role in shaping the behaviour within an organisation. As Scholl (2003) states, there is no denying that each organisation has its own unique social structure which drives individual behaviour in any organisation. Organisational culture is said to be influenced strongly by employees’ strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, values, real-life experiences, education and upbringing. Executive leaders in an organisation depict the organisations culture through their actions and different leadership styles and management approaches. Thus it can be said that all employees contribute to the organisations culture and can have a powerful effect on an organisations well-being and success. Driskill (2004) defines culture as “strong values, norms, and beliefs that guide action” and explores further when saying “…culture is a powerful determinant of the definition of situation and of rituals and procedures: Who speaks to whom? Who listens to whom, when and why? Corporate culture contributes many of the interpretive standards that affect writers’ choices of content, persuasive approach, and word choice.”
As Price (2011) states, an organisation is both a formal and informal entity. The formal aspect is whereby the official structure and public image is visible in the organisations charts, records and reports. Parallel to this is the reality of action and power that is described as the informal aspect of an organisation. It too is seen as an elusive concept, making reference to the complex network of social and psychological relationships amongst individuals within a particular organisation; whereby gossip, affairs, cliques, friendships, politics and enmities play a strong influence.
Scholl (2003) explores two ways in which culture can be defined: through outcomes and through process. The outcome of a culture will be depicted in the way in which individuals of an organisation perform tasks, treat customers, treat fellow employees, find solutions to problems and resolve conflict -thus it looks on the level of individual behaviour. Whereby process defines culture as a set of mechanisms that determines how individuals and groups in an organisation interact with one another as well as how they interact with the external public outside of the organisation. Scholl (2003) again states that “both of these approaches are relevant to understanding culture. It is important to know on what types of behaviour culture has greatest impact (outcomes) and how culture works to control the behaviour of organizational members.”
To create a collective identity, organisational culture affects employees in a way that links their self-image to their work group (André, 2008: Trice & Beyer, 1993). Employees share emotions experienced through...