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Organizational culture

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Organizational culture an analysis of its perspective, concepts, historical evolution, methods, and significance for understanding and managing organizations
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Ott, John Steven
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Bibliographical references at end of each chapter.
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Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Public Administration, Graduate School of Public Affairs.
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School of Public Affairs
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by John Steven Ott.

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Full Text
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE:
AN ANALYSIS OF ITS PERSPECTIVE, CONCEPTS,
HISTORICAL EVOLUTION, METHODS, AND SIGNIFICANCE
FOR UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING ORGANIZATIONS
by
John Steven Ott
B.S., Pennsylvania State University
S. M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of Public Affairs of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Public Administration
Graduate School of Public Affairs
1986


This thesis for the Doctor of Public Administration
degree by
John Steven Ott
has been approved for the
Graduate School
of Public Affairs
by
David H. Rosenbloom
Date
I i -y' 6


Ott, John Steven (D.P.A., Public Administration)
Organizational Culture: An Analysis of its Perspective,
Concepts, Historical Evolution, Methods, and
Significance for Understanding and Managing
Organizations
Thesis directed by Professor Jay M. Shafritz
The study's overall purpose is to make sense
out of organizational culture and the organizational
culture perspective (or school) of organization theory.
The study clarifies what organizational culture is,
what it consists of, and its functions; analyzes how
organizational culture forms, develops, and is perpe-
tuated; traces and analyzes the historical evolution of.
the organizational culture perspective, its concepts,
assumptions, and methods; assesses some methods for
identifying organizational culture for different
purposes; and analyzes some of its important practical
applications.
Organizational culture is a holistic concept
consisting of artifacts, symbols, perceptions, patterns
of behavior, values and beliefs (ideologies), and basic
underlying assumptions. It provides organization
members with socially constructed shared perceptions


IV
and expectations, defines and maintains organizational
boundaries, and functions as a control system prescri-
bing and prohibiting behaviors. Organizational culture
provides security, direction, meaning, reduced ambi-
guity, and the reason for personal commitment. It also
can cause overconforming behavior.
The organizational culture perspective has
historical roots in and has adapted concepts from all
major schools of organization theory and from many
social science disciplines. Only the blending of its
concepts and methods into a "perspective," a holistic
way of viewing organizations, is new.
The perspective is experiencing the problems of
immature paradigms. It is just learning to walk, but
is being asked to run. Consensus is needed on its basic
concepts and parameters. Then its methodological tools
and practical applications can be expanded, and it may
achieve its potential.
This study is an attempt to help the perspective
achieve its potential. It employs a seven step metho-
dology: an intentionally unfocused literature search;
preliminary information categorization; locate and
adapt a theoretical framework; create a typology; clas-


V
sify information in the typology; design field research
procedures, collect and code field data; and analyze
and synthesize field and literature data.
Within-site analyses were conducted in five
organizations: a state department of public health, a
college, a chapter of an international nonprofit
organization, a nonprofit organization that arranges
services for people with developmental disabilities,
and a certified public accounting firm.
The form and content of this abstract are approved,
recommend its publication.
Signed
I
Faculty/ member in /charge of thesis


CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION.................................... 1
Introduction to Organizational Culture.... 1
The Organizational Culture
Perspective.....................,...... 1
Assumptions of the Organizational
Culture Perspective....................... 4
Research Bias of the Organizational
Culture Perspective..................... 6
/
The Importance Of Organizational Culture
and the Organizational Culture
Perspective................................... 7
Radically Changing Organizations............ 7
Other Applications of the
Organizational Culture
Perspective...........**.................. 9
Inadequacy of other Perspectives........... 10
Summary: The Importance of the
Organizational Culture Perspective.... 11
The Need for an Integrative Study of
Organizational Culture..................... 11
The Organizational Culture
Perspective Has Its Problems............. 11
Two Examples of Its Problems:
Changing Organizational Culture
and Implications for Leadership.......... 12
Lack of Integrative Theories and
Research
14


vii
CONTENTS (Page 2)
Summary of the Need and
Opportunities...........*............. 15
Reasons for the Dearth of
Integrative Literature.................... 16
Summary: The Need for an
Integrative Study....................... 19
Purposes and Organization of This Study... 20
Methodologies Used to Accomplish the
Study's Purposes.......................... 22
Literature Search......................... 22
Organizing Information from the
Literature.............................. 25
Finding and Selecting a Theoretical
Framework............................. 25
Adapting a Theoretical Framework.......... 27
Classifying Information in a
Typology................................ 27
Field Research............................ 28
Criteria for Selecting Organizations
for Inclusion............................. 29
(
Nature of the Research Relationships.... 29
Field Data Collection..................... 32
Use of Published Accounts................. 33
Analyzing and Synthesizing Data........... 34
Three Cases and Analyses Depicting
Different Aspects of Organizational
Culture..................................... 34


Vlll
CONTENTS {Page 3)
Purposes of the Cases.................... 3 4
Case 1: An Organizational Culture
that Became a Liability When the
Businss Environment Around AT&T
Changed Substantially.................... 35
Case 2: A New Leader's Inability to
Change the Organizational Culture
at the Mountain State Chapter.............. 37
Case 3: Incompatibility of Two
Organizational Cultures in the
Plains State Health Department............. 44
Chapter Summary.............................. 49
Footnotes................................ 50
Chapter References........................... 52
CHAPTER 2
THE ESSENCE AND FUNCTIONS OF
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE....................... 58
Introduction: The Importance of
Language................................... 58
Symbols: Creators and Communicators of
Meaning.................................. 61
The Meaning of Symbols..................... 61
Examples of Symbols from the Three
Cases.................................... 61
Summary: The Importance of Symbols
and Symbolism............................ 64
Artifacts: Products of and
Communicators of Organizational
Culture.........................
65


IX
CONTENTS (Page 4)
Artifacts as Symbols and Signs............ 65.
Artifacts and Organizational Culture.... 68
Language: An Artifact, Communicator
of Culture, and Shaper of Thought
Patterns................................. 70
Jargon: The Shorthand of Language......... 74
Metaphors: Potent Communicators of
Symbolic Meaning......................... 74
Myths: Extended Metaphors................ 77
Stories: Historically Accurate
Anecdotes With Plots, Heroes, and
Happy Endings............................ 79
Heroes: Central Protagonists in
Organizational Stories................... 81
Organizational Scripts: The
Skeletal Frames of Organizational
Stories.................................. 82
Sagas and.Legends: Historical
Collections of Organizational
Stories.................................... 84
Ceremonies and Celebrations:
Placing Cultural Values on
Display................................. 85
Summary and Conclusions about
Organizational Artifacts................. 87
Patterns of Behavior: Routinized
Organizational Activities.................. 88
Rites and Rituals: Organizational
Habits that Provide Security
Meaning, and Identity for Members........ 89


X
CONTENTS (Page 5)
Behavioral Norms: Prescriptions and
Proscriptions for Organizational
Behavior.......................... 91
Summary and Conclusions: Patterns
of Behavior.............................. 93
Beliefs and Values: The Reasons Why
People Behave as They Do................. 93
Beliefs and Values as Justifications
of Behavior............................ 9 4
Beliefs and Values as Cognitive and
Affective Patterns..................... 95
Ethical and Moral Codes: Systems of
Beliefs and Values....................... 97
Ideologies: Dominant Sets of Belief
and Value Systems...................... 9 8
Summary and Conclusions About
Beliefs and Values....................... 99
Basic Underlying Assumptions: Beliefs
and Values Which Are So Taken for
Granted That They Tend to Have
Dropped Out of Awareness.................. 100
Basic Assumptions: Forgotten
Perceptions, Beliefs, and Values........ 100
Organizational Culture Defined as
Basic Assumptions..................... 101
The Contents of Basic Assumptions......... 103
Basic Assumptions Help Organizations
Cope With Problems...................... 105
The Difference Between Espoused
Values and Values-in-Use
106


xi
CONTENTS (Page 6)
Organizational Scripts: A Similar
Perspective from a Different Source... 107
Two Other Concepts Related to
Organizational Culture: Subculture
and Organizational Climate................ 108
Subcultures: Pockets of Deviation
from the Dominant Culture................109
Characteristics of Subcultures.............Ill
Organizational Climate: An
Organization's "Mood"................... 112
Summary and Conclusions About the
Essence and Functions of
Organizational Culture.................... 113
Footnotes................................... 115
i
Chapter References.......................... 118
CHAPTER 3
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE: WHAT IT IS
CONCEPTS, DEFINTIONS, AND A TYPOLOGY........ 126
Chapter Overview............................ 126
What is Organizational Culture? A
Starting Point............................ 127
Organizational Culture is a Concept
Rather Than a Thing..................... 130
Organizational Culture's Conceptual
Problems are Not Unique................. 131
Areas of Agreement About
Organizational Culture.................. 131
Divergent Views About the Essence of
Organizational Culture.................. 132


xii
CONTENTS (Page 7)
An Initial Step Toward Classifying
Elements of Organizational Culture...... 13 6
A Theoretical Framework: Schein's Three
Levels of Organizational Culture.......... 138
The Usefulness of This Definitional
Exercise: Why Bother?..................... 140
Some Implications of Defining
Organizational Culture as Artifacts... 140
Some Implications of Defining
Organizational Culture as Beliefs
and Values or Basic Assumptions......... 143
A Typology of Organizational Culture........ 147
Level 1 of Organizational Culture:
Artifacts............................... 148
Level 2 of Organizational Culture:
Values and Beliefs...................... 149
Level 3 of Organizational Culture:
Basic Underlying Assumptions............ 151
Some Potential Uses for the Typology of
Organizational Culture.................... 154
Classifying Organizational Culture
Concepts and Elements................... 154
Classifying Authors and their Writings
About Organizational Culture............ 157
A Functional Definition of
Organizational Culture.................... 162
Summary and Conclusions..................... 168
Footnotes................................... 170
Chapter References.......................... 171


xiii
CONTENTS (Page 8)
CHAPTER 4
ORIGINS, DEVELOPMENT, AND PERPETUATION OF
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE...................... 187
Origins or Sources of Organizational
Culture................................... 188
The Broader Culture in Which an
Organization Exists..................... 189
The Nature of an Organization's
Business or Business Environment........ 197
The Impacts of the Founder(s) and
Other Dominant Early Leaders............ 202
Summary and Conclusions: Origins and
Sources of Organizational Culture...... 204
The Development of Organizational
Culture................................... 207
Transmittal and Perpetuation of
Organizational Culture.................... 214
1. Preselection and Hiring of Members... 217
2. Socialization of Members............... 219
3. Removal of Members Who Deviate from
the Culture............................ 227
4. Behavior.............................. 22 9
5. Justifications of Behavior: Beliefs
and Values............................. 231
6. Cultural Communications................ 234
Summary and Conclusions: Perpetuating
and Transmitting Organizational
Culture
235


XIV
CONTENTS (Page 9)
Chapter Summary and Conclusions............ 23 6
Footnotes................................. .. 238
Chapter References......................... 240
CHAPTER 5
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF
THE ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE PERSPECTIVE
WITHIN ORGANIZATION THEORY.................... 244
Introduction................................ 244
Why This Chapter Has Been Placed Here... 244
Organization of the Historical
Analyses................................ 246
Organization Theory Reflects its
Context................................. 248
Different Perspectives or Schools Within
Organization Theory....................... 248
Schools of Organization Theory Go
Through Cycles.......................... 253
Approaches to Grouping Theories of
Organization into Perspectives.......... 254
The Argument for Using a Historical
Framework............................... 257
Classical Organization Theory: The
Search for the One Best Way to
Organize................................ 260
Classical Organization Theory in the
Context of its Times.................. 260
Basic Assumptions of Classical
Organization Theory
262


XV
CONTENTS (Page 10)
The Classical School's Contributions
to the Organizational Culture
Perspective............................... 263
The Classical Philosophers.................. 265
The Classical Philosopher's Contri-
butions to the Organizational
Culture Perspective....................... 267
Neo-classical Organization Theory........... 267
Two Neo-classical Organization
Theorists Who Were Particularly
Important to Organizational
Culture................................. 270
The Neo-classical School's Contri-
butions to the Organizational
Culture Perspective....................... 272
The Human Relations Perspective of
Organization Theory....................... 273
Assumptions of the Human Relations
Perspective............................. 275
Origins of the Human Relations
Perspective............................. 276
Focuses of the Human Relations
Perspective............................ 278
The Human Relations School's Guiding
Philosophy.............................. 279
The Human Relations Perspective's
Contributions to the Organizational
Culture Perspective... *.................. 283
"Modern" Structural Organization Theory... 284
Basic Assumptions of the "Modern"
Structural School....................... 286


XVI
CONTENTS (Page 11)
The "Modern" Structural School's
Contributions to the Organizational
Culture Perspective............. 2 87
Systems and Contingency Theories of
Organization.............................. 289
The Origins of the Systems and Contin-
gency Perspective.........*...... 289
General Systems Theory Applied to
Organizations.......................... 291
Reliance on Quantitative Methods and
Models.................................. 295
Social Systems.......................... 296
Contingency Theory........................ 298
Systems and Human Values............... ... 299
The Systems School and Organizational
Culture................................. 300
The Power and Politics Perspective of
Organization Theory....................... 301
Assumptions of the Power and Politics
Perspective............................ 302
The Power and Politics School's
Contributions to the Organizational
Culture Perspective..................... 307
Chapter Conclusions......................... 308
Footnotes................................... 313
Chapter References.......................... 315


XVI1
CONTENTS (Page 12)
CHAPTER' 6
HISTORICAL ANALYSIS: SOURCES AND DEVELOP-
MENT OF IMPORTANT CONCEPTS AND ELEMENTS
FROM THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF ORGANIZA-
TIONAL CULTURE................................ 324
Introduction................................ 324
The Chapter's Purpose..................... 324
Rationale for the Chapter................. 325
Organization of the Chapter............... 327
A Historical Analysis of Organizational
Culture as Defined as Basic Underlying
Assumptions................................... 328
A Review of Schein's Formal Definition.... 328
Sources of the Overarching Concept of
Organizational Culture.................... 329
A Holistic Concept of Culture from
the Classical Philosopher Chester I.
Barnard................................. 329
A Cogent Statement of Organizational
Culture from the Neo-classicalist
Elliott Jagues............................ 332
Organization Character from the Neo-
classicalist Philip Selznick............ 335
Basic Management Assumptions from the
Human Relationist Douglas McGregor....337
Organizational Socialization and
Culture as a Controller of Assump-
tions, Thoughts, and Behaviors......... 338
From the Human Relations School:
Organizational Climate
341


xviii
CONTENTS (Page 13)
The Distinction Between Organiza-
tional Culture as Basic Assump-
tions, and as Beliefs and Values........ 343
Conclusions: Sources of the Holistic
Concept of Organizational Culture..... 344
A Historical Analysis of Organizational
Culture from a Social Construction of
Reality and Symbolic Perspective............ 345
An Analytical Framework from Bolman
and Deal.................................. 345
Social Construction of Realities anyd
Meaning................................... 347
Conceptualizations of Culture from
Cultural Anthropology and
Archaeology............................. 347
The Social Construction of Reality's
View of Organizations and Organiza-
tional Culture............................ 348
Is the Social Constructionist View of
Organizations for Real?................. 350
Origins of the Social Construction of
Reality Perspective..................... 351
Conclusions: Sources of the Reality
Constructionist Perspective............. 353
Symbols, Symbolism, and Artifacts........... 354
Origins of Symbols and Symbolism.......... 355
Conclusions: Sources of the Symbols,
Symbolism, and Artifacts Perspective.. 358
Conclusions: Origins of the Social
Construction of Reality and Symbolic
Perspectives
359


XIX
CONTENTS (Page 14)
A Brief Look at Patterns of Behavior, and
Beliefs and Values......................... 359
Some Unanswered Questions.................... 361
Footnotes.................................... 3 67
Chapter References........................... 370
CHAPTER 7
METHODOLOGICAL APPROACHES FOR STUDYING
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE.'................... 379
Chapter Purpose, Organization, and
Rationale................................ 379
Purpose and Organization................. 379
Rationale for the Chapter................ 3 80
Disenchantment with Traditional
Organizational Research Methods...... 380
Problems Replacing the Traditional
Organizational Research Approaches
and Methods............................ 381
The Issue of Objectivity in
Organizational Research.............. 383
Qualitative Research Methods............. 385
What is Qualitative Research?.......... 385
Qualitative Organizational Culture
Research in Practice................. 387
Use of Multiple Research Methods, or
"Triangulation"...................... 388


XX
CONTENTS (Page 15)
A Summary of Practical Problems for
Organizational Culture Research........ 389
The Need: A Way To Match Research
Approaches with Theories of Organiza-
tional Culture and Uses for the
Results................................... 394
Artifacts: Level 1A of Organizational
Culture................................ 396
Wandering Around Looking at Physical
Settings................................ 396
Rummaging Through Archives and Other
Records................................. 400
Newspaper and Business Journal
Articles.......................... 402
Learning from Organization Charts........ 402
Conclusions: Researching Material
Artifacts.............................. 404
Just Listening............................ 404
Learning About Culture When Language
is not Shared......................... 405
Other Approaches Through the
Language............................. 407
Learning the Myths, Stories, Sagas,
and Legends........................... 408
Piecing Together Organizational
Culture from Sagas.................... 410
Patterns of Behavior: Level IB of
Organizational Culture.................... 411
Using Questionnaires to Identify
Organizational Norms.................... 411


XXI
CONTENTS (Page 16)
The Effectiveness of a Norm
Questionnaire for Identifying
Organizational Culture: A "Test"
at Jones & Jones........................ 413
Level 2 of Organizational Culture:
Beliefs and Values........................ 418
Using Questionnaires to Identify
Beliefs, Values, and Ideologies......... 419
Using an Ideology Instrument for
Identifying Organizational
Culture: A "Test" at Jones &
Jones................................. 419
Level 3.of Organizational Culture:
Basic Underlying Assumptions.............. 423
Identity Concealed Researcher Using
Ethnographic Methods.................... 426
Joint Iterative Interviewing by an
Outsider with a Clinical Perspective
and Key Insider (s)..................... 426
A Clinician Rather Than an Ethno-
grapher Perspective.................... 42 7
A Joint Effort by an Outsider and
an Insider(s)......................... 427
Iterative Interviewing.................. 428
Assessment of the Joint Iterative
Interviewing by an Outsider with
a Clinical Perspective and Key
Insider (s) Role/Strategy............... 429
Identity Revealed Researcher Using
Ethnographic Methods.................... 431
Organizational Ethnography............. 431


xxii
CONTENTS (Page 17)
The Ethnographic Paradigms............. 432
Conclusions: Identity Revealed
Researcher Using Ethnographic
Methods.............................. 435
Conclusions: Methods for Researching
Organizational Culture Defined as
Basic Underlying Assumptions... 435
\
Conclusions: Methodologies for Studying
Organizational Culture................... 43 6
Footnotes.................................. 440
Chapter References......................... 442
CHAPTER 8
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS...................... 461
What We Know About Organizational
Culture.................................. 462
What Organizational Culture is........... 462
The Functions of Organizational
Culture................................ 463
Organizational Cultures are Unique and
Why.................................... 464
Organizational Cultures Self-
perpetuate............................. 467
Organizational Culture is not
Something Mysterious................... 467
Organizational Culture's Impacts on
Organizations.......................... 470
What We Know About the Organizational
Culture Perspective
470


XX111
CONTENTS (Page 18)
The Organizational Culture Perspective
Must Work Holistically With
Organizational Culture.................... 471
Understanding, Explaining, and
Predicting Organizational Behavior.... 471
Leadership and Incremental Change......... 473
Leadership and Radical Organization
Change................................ 474
Current Limits of the Organizational
Culture Perspective..................... 475
What We Do Not Know About Organizational
Culture and the Organizational Culture
Perspective................................ 477
Concluding Remarks.......................... 480
Footnotes................................... 482
Chapter References
483


xxiv
TABLES
Table
5- 1 A Few Examples of How Scholars Have
Grouped Schools of Organization
Theory................................. 251
6- 1 Jaques' Definition of the Culture of the
Factory Compared with Schein's Formal
Definition of Basic Underlying
Assumptions.............................. 333
6- 2 Basic Assumptions of the Symbolic Frame
Grouped into Three Categories.......... 346
7- 1 Organizational Norm Opinionnaire
Scales: Rank Order of Scale Scores
at Jones & Jones......................... 416
8-1 Some Important Concepts of the
Organizational Culture Perspective
and Their Historical Origins.......
468


FIGURES
Figure
1-1 Summary Diagram: The Sequence of
Methodological Steps........................ 24
1-2 Type and Duration of Research
Involvement with the Organizations
Included in this Study...................... 31
3-1 Alphabetical Listing of Elements of
Organizational Culture..................... 134
3-2 Schein's 3 Levels of Organizational
Culture and Their Interaction............. 13 9
3-3 Levels of Organizational Culture and
Their Interaction.......................... 153
3-4 A Typology of Elements of
Organizational Culture..................... 155
3- 5 Typology of Publications on
Organizational Culture..................... 159
4- 1 Sources or Origins of Organizational
Culture.................................... 205
4-2 How Culture Tends to Perpetuate Itself... 216
5-1 Astley and Van de Ven's Four Views of
Organization............................... 256
5-2 The Historical Development of the Major
Perspectives of Organization Theory........ 259
5-3 Theory X and Theory Y Assumptions.......... 281
5-4 Norbert Wiener's Model of an Organiza-
tion as an Adaptive System...................... 293


xxv i
FIGURES (Page 2)
7-1 Sanday's Ethnographic Sub-Styles
Organized by Analytical Goal............ 434
7-2 Some Methods for Measuring Organiza-
tional Culture and Their Applicabil-
ity to Elements in Different Levels
of Organizational Culture
438


xxv ii
CHAPTER APPENDICES
Chapter Appendix
1
1 Field Data Collection Format... 55
3
7
7
1 A Sampling of Definitions of
Organizational Culture....... 179
1 Mark Alexander's Organiza-
tional Norm Opinionnaire,
With Scoring Sheets and
Scoring Profiles............. 448
2 Roger Harrison's Question-
naire for Diagnosing
Organization Ideology,
With Individual and Group
Profiles
455


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Introduction to Organizational Culture
This study is about organizational culture, a
phrase which means two different but related things.
First, it is the culture which exists in an organi-
zation. When the phrase is used in this sense, it
means something similar to the culture in a society and
consists of such things as shared values, beliefs,
assumptions, perceptions, norms, artifacts and patterns
of behavior. It is the unseen and unobservable force
that is always behind organizational activities which
can be seen and observed. According to Kilmann and his
associates (1985), organizational culture is a social
energy that moves people to act. "Culture is to the
organization what personality is to the individual a
hidden, yet unifying theme that provides meaning,
1
direction, and mobilization" (p.. ix) .
The Organizational
Culture Perspective
Second, organizational culture is a way of
looking at and thinking about behavior of and in


CHAPTER 1
2
organizations, a perspective for understanding what is
occurring. When used in this sense, organizational
culture refers to a collection of theories which
attempt to explain and predict how organizations and
the people in them act in different circumstances. For
clarity, "organizational culture" is used in this study
to mean the culture of an organization: "the organiza-
tional culture perspective" means the use of organiza-
tional culture as a frame of reference for the way one
looks at, attempts to understand, and works with
organizations. The organizational culture perspective
represents a counter-culture within organization
theory. Its assumptions, theories and approaches are
very different from those of the dominant structural
and systems perspectives. The organizational culture
perspective challenges the views of the structural and
systems perspectives about basic issues: for example,
how organizations make decisions, and how and why
people in organizations behave as they do.
Organizational culture is the newest and
perhaps the most controversial of the organization
theory'perspectives. Its theories are based upon
assumptions about organizations and people that depart
radically from those of the mainline perspectives of


CHAPTER 1
3
organization theory. The organizational culture pers-
pective does not believe that quantitative, experi-
mental-type, scientific research is especially useful
for studying organizations.
In the structural and the systems perspectives
of organization theory, organizations are assumed to be
institutions whose primary purpose is to accomplish
established goals. Those goals are set by people in
positions of formal authority. In these two schools,
the primary questions for organization theory involve
how best to design and manage organizations to achieve
their declared purposes effectively and efficiently.
The personal preferences of organizational members are
restrained by systems of formal rules, authority, and
by norms of rational behavior. In a 1982 article, Karl
Weick, a leading writer about symbolic management,
argues that four organizational conditions must exist
in order for basic assumptions of the structuralists
and systemists to be valid:
(1) a self-correcting system of interdependent
people,
(2) concensus on objectives and methods,
(3) coordination is achieved through sharing infor-
mation, and


CHAPTER 1
4
(4) organizational problems and solutions must be
predictable.
However, Weick is forced to conclude that these condi-
tions seldom exist in modern organizations.
Assumptions of the Organizational
Culture Perspective
Consequently, the organizational culture school
rejects the assumptions of the modern structural and
systems schools. Instead, it assumes that many organi-
zational behaviors and decisions are almost "predeter-
mined" by the patterns of basic assumptions existing in
the organization. Those patterns of assumptions
continue to exist and to influence behaviors, because
they repeatedly led people to make decisions which
usually "worked" for the organization. With repeated
use, the assumptions slowly drop out of peoples'
consciousness, but continue to influence organizational
decisions and behaviors even when the organization's
environment changes. They become the underlying,
unquestioned but virtually forgotten reasons for
"the way we do things here" -- even when the ways are
no longer appropriate. They are so basic, so pervasive,
and so totally accepted as "the truth" that no one
thinks about or remembers them. Thus a strong organi-


CHAPTER 1
5
zational culture controls organizational behavior; for
example, it can block an organization from making
changes needed to adapt to a changing environment.
From the organizational culture perspective,
the personal preferences of organizational members are
not restrained by systems of formal rules,.authority,
and by norms of rational behavior. Instead, they are
controlled by cultural norms, values, beliefs and
assumptions. Thus, in order to understand or predict
how an organization will behave under different circum-
stances, one must know what its patterns of basic
assumptions are its organizational culture.
Every organizational culture is different, for
several reasons. First, what has "worked" repeatedly
for one organization does not for another, so the basic
assumptions differ. Second, an organization's culture
is partially shaped by many factors including, for
example, the societal culture in which it resides, its
technologies, markets, competition, and the personality
of its founder(s) or dominant leaders. Some organiza-
tional cultures are more distinctive than others; some
organizations have strong, unified, pervasive cultures,
whereas others have weaker cultures; some organiza-
tional cultures are quite pervasive, whereas others
have many "sub-cultures" existing in different
functional or geographical areas.


CHAPTER 1
6
Research Bias of the Organizational
Culture Perspective
Knowledge of an organization's structure,
information systems, strategic planning processes,
markets, technology, goals, etc., will give clues about
an organizational culture, but not accurately or
reliably. As a consequence, an organization's behavior
can not be understood or predicted by studying its
structural or systems elements: its organizational
culture must be studied. And, the quantitative quasi-
experimental research methods used by the structural
and systems perspectives can not identify or measure
unconscious, virtually forgotten basic assumptions.
Van Maanen, Dabbs & Faulkner (1982) describe a growing
wave of disenchantment with the use of quantitative
quasi-experimental research methods for studying
organizations, mainly because they have produced very
little useful knowledge about organizations over the
last twenty years. Yet, quantitative research using
quasi-experimental designs, control groups, computers,
multi-variate analyses, heuristic models and the like
are the essential "tools" of the structural and systems
perspectives. More and more, the organizational cul-
ture perspective is turning to qualitative research
methods like ethnography and participant observation.


CHAPTER 1
7
The reasons for calling the organizational
culture perspective a "counter-culture" within the
field of organization theory now should be evident. The
organizational culture perspective believes that the
structural and systems perspectives oforganization
theory are using the wrong "tools" (or "lenses") to
look at the wrong organizational elements in their
attempts to understand and predict organizational
behavior. In effect, they are wasting their time.
The Importance of Organizational
Culture and the Organizational
Culture Perspective
Radically Changing
Organizations
It takes courage to challenge the basic views
of a mainstream perspective in any profession or
academic discipline. Yet this is just what the organi-
zational culture perspective is doing when it advocates
radically different ways of looking at and working with
organizations. For example, from the organizational
culture perspective, AT&T's basic problems since
deregulation and court-ordered splintering of the Bell
2
System, are not in its structure, information systems,
or people. Rather, they rest in an organizational
culture which no longer is appropriate for AT&T's


CHAPTER 1
8
deregulated world. The long-standing AT&T culture has
been centered on assumptions about (a) the value of
technical superiority, (b) AT&T's possession of tech-
nical superiority, and thus (c) AT&T's rightful domin-
ance in the telephone and telecommunications market.
Therefore, working to improve things like AT&T's goals,
structure, differentiation and integration processes,
strategic plans, and information systems will not solve
AT&T's monumental problems. The solution requires
changing an ingrained organizational culture: changing
basic unconscious assumptions about what makes for
success in a competitive telephone and communications
3
market.
Lee Iacocca (1984) faced a similar problem (but
different in its content) when he took over leadership
of the Chrysler Corporation. Chrysler was a "loser"
in just about every way in the eyes of employees,
potential employees, investors, car dealers, financers,
suppliers and car buyers. It was simply assumed that
Chrysler could not compete head-on. Iacocca had to
change not only an organizational culture, but also
just about everybody's perception of that culture.
Chrysler needed and got in Iacocca what Warren Bennis
(1984) and Tichy and Ulrich (1984) have called a
"transformational leader," one who could totally
II


CHAPTER 1
9
transform an imbedded organizational culture by crea-
ting a new vision of and for the organization, and
sucessfully selling that vision by rallying commit-
ment and loyalty to make the vision become a reality.
The concluding section of this chapter presents
and discusses three case studies from the organiza-
tional culture perspective. The cases demonstrate the
usefulness of the organizational culture perspective
for explaining and predicting organizational behavior.
Countless other cases could have been used. Just as in
three organizations described, most of them would
involve organizations facing fundamental changes,
particularly changes involving their identity. This is
when the organizational culture perspective is most
helpful.
Other Applications of the
Organizational Culture Perspective
However, the usefulness of the organizational
culture perspective is not limited to radical organiza-
tional change. It also is helpful for understanding
and predicting a host of other types of holistic
organizational phenomena and behaviors involving, for
example, employee commitment and loyalty, leadership
effectiveness, leadership succession, creativity, and


CHAPTER 1
10
innovation and organizational survival strategies.
Also, it is logical to expect that there are strong
relationships between aspects of organizational culture
and an organization's productivity and quality of out-
puts but such relationships have not yet been proven
to exist.
Inadequacy of Other
Perspectives
Chapter 5 examines why other perspectives of
organizations (in other words, other groupings of
organization theories) are not well suited for
explaining or predicting these kinds of holistic
organizational phenomena. Other perspectives are least
useful during periods of major organizational change,
especially when change in an organization's identity is
involved. For now, please accept the unsubstantiated
and over-simplified assertion that other existing
perspectives of organizations do not possess the
correct "lenses" through which to "see" organizational
culture nor the analytical tools for working with it.
By analogy, using any other perspective to work with
organizational culture is like trying to watch a three
dimensional movie without those special glasses.


CHAPTER 1
11
Summary; The Importance of the
Organizational Culture Perspective
Thus the objects of this study, organizational
culture and the organizational culture perspective, are
important to practicing managers and to students of
organizations because they provide new approaches for
viewing, thinking about, analyzing, understanding,
explaining, and predicting organizational behavior.
For example, the organizational culture perspective is
ideal for understanding what happened at AT&T, State
Health, and the Mountain State Chapter the three
organizations described in cases at the end of this
4
chapter.
The Need for an Integrative
Study of Organizational Culture
The Organizational Culture
Perspective Has Its Problems
Despite its usefulness, the organizational
culture perspective has major problems and limitations.
Many of its problems, reflect its youthfulness.
Although the phrase "culture of a factory" was coined
as early as 1952 by Elliott Jaques, and "organizational
culture" by Philip Selznick in 1957, few students of
management or organizations paid much attention to
organizational culture until about 1978. Even then,


CHAPTER 1
12
the topic typically was addressed narrowly, and the
writings did not receive much notice. The turning
point for the organizational culture perspective came
in 1981 and 1982, when it suddenly became a very hot
topic in books, journals and periodicals aimed at both
5
management practitioners and academicians.
The problems and limitations of youthfulness
remain in 1986. Minimal concensus exists about much of
anything concerned with organizational culture, even
among its proponents. The disagreement starts with
6
what an organizational culture is. As one would
expect, the debates are even more pronounced and heated
about its nature and components, and the appropriate
situations and methods for applying the organizational
culture perspective. The lack of agreement about such
basic issues causes serious problems for those who are
inclined to use the organizational culture perspective
for managing or studying organizations. They create
doubts about the very legitimacy of the perspective.
Two Examples of its Problems:
Changing Organizational Culture
and Implications for Leadership
To be more concrete: consider a few conflicting
views about changing an organizational culture. Should
a manager even try to do so? If so, what change


CHAPTER 1
13
strategy should be used? For example, Allen and Kraft
(1982) are proponents of changing organizational cul-
tures by changing behavioral norms. Davis (1984) dis-
agrees, arguing for chief executive officer-imposed,
\
top-to-bottom, organization-wide change efforts.
Schein (1985), Sathe (1985) and Martin and Siehl (1983)
all predict failure for any single-strategy organiza-
tional culture change program. Schein (1985) cautions
that attempts to change organizational cultures can be
harmful and, in many situations, should not even be
tried.
Leadership provides a second example. Can a
manager change existing leadership styles and practices
in an organization by changing the organizational cul-
ture, or does one modify the organizational culture by
changing leadership practices? Or both? Some writers,
including Davis (1984) postulate that dominant, charis-
matic, organizational founders and chief executive
officers are the primary sources, transmitters, and
maintainers of organizational cultures. On the other
hand, Sergiovanni (1984) describes organizational
leadership and the patterns of leaders' decisions they
make as cultural artifacts. They believe that leaders,
leadership styles and practices, and patterns of
leaders' decisions are shaped more by organizational
culture than by the leaders themselves.


CHAPTER 1
14
Lack of Integrative Theories
and Research
The youthfulness of the organizational culture
perspective is evident in the dearth of comprehensive
7
and integrative writing about it. Recently, Schein
(1985) and Sathe (1985) bemoaned the problem.
Unfortunately, most of the writers on
organizational culture use different defini-
tions, different methods of determining what
they mean by culture, and different standards
for evaluating how culture affects organiza-
tions. These conceptual and methodological
differences make it almost impossible to
assess the various claims made (Schein, 1985,
p. x) .
Although the importance of corporate
culture is now widely acknowledged in both
business and academic circles, the available
literature leaves something to be desired. .
. This literature is also generally not
well grounded in systematic theory and
research. (Sathe, 1985, p. 1)
Depending upon one's viewpoint, the first
comprehensive and integrative studies of organizational
culture did not appear until 1984 or 1985. There are
now only two or three such studies. Schein's (1985)
Organizational Culture and Leadership is the most
notable. Sathe's (1985) Organization Culture and
Related Realities is a theoretically sound textbook
with readings and cases. Sergiovanni and Corbally's
(1984) Leadership and Organizational Culture is a
stimulating collection of theoretical papers mostly
8
concerned with educational administration. Schein


CHAPTER 1
15
(1985)- uses a historical/analytical approach to analyze
the development of the contents of organizational cul-
tures .
Summary of the Need and
Opportunities
There has been no serious attempt to conduct a
historical analytical study of the organizational cul-
ture perspective in its totality. The situation is
equally bleak relative to methods for researching or
identifying organizational cultures. Only Martin &
Siehl (1983) Siehl & Martin (1984), and Sathe (1985)
have addressed the methodological issues integra-
9
tively. This study proposes to fill these voids.
Thus, there are two overriding justifications
for conducting this study. First, the organizational
culture perpsective appears to have the potential to
contribute significantly to what is known about mana-
ging organizations and behavior in organizations.
Second, the widely divergent published views about
organizational culture and the organizational culture
perspective are confusing and are eroding its already
limited credibility.


CHAPTER 1
16
Reasons for the Dearth
of Integrative Literature
Why is there a dearth of good comprehensive
integrative writing about organizational culture? The
answer requires some reasoned speculation. The first
reason has been discussed previously. The perspective
is young, and there are few good precedents for resear-
chers and writers to follow and build upon. Second,
since the late 1960's, the dominant, mainstream
perspectives on organizations have assumed that organi-
zations are rational, goal-oriented institutions whose
behaviors can be understood by studying their goals,
structures and processes for making decisions. For
example, the dominant mainstream perspective, often
called the "structural and systems school" or the
"structural/systems framework" (Bolman & Deal, 1984,
chs. 9, 10, and 12) relies primarily on quantitative
analytical methods to analyze structures, information,
information systems and decision processes. In
contrast, the organizational culture perspective does
not assume that organizations are necessarily rational
goal-oriented entities. Whereas the mainstream
perspectives tend to work With "hard," tangible, quan-
tifiable, organizational variables, often using
computer models, the organizational culture perspective


CHAPTER 1
17
focuses on "soft," less tangible, more ethereal varia-
bles like basic assumptions, cognitive patterns,
values, myths, and unspoken beliefs. Using another
analogy, organizational culture is like ordinary air.
Usually, it can not be touched, felt or seen. It is
not noticed unless it changes suddenly. The mainstream
perspectives of organizations are not comfortable with
air-like variables and concepts.. Computerized informa-
tion systems and statistical, quasi-experimental
research methods of the structural and systems perspec-
tives are not designed to measure ethereal concepts
like values, myths, and preconscious underlying
assumptions.
Thus the organizational culture perspective is
a counter-culture within organization theory. The
assumptions, theories and approaches of counter-cul-
tures are not readily accepted by members of dominant
cultures (Kuhn, 1970, ch. II). They challenge existing
assumptions and beliefs about what is important, how
organizations function, and ways of designing and
conducting research. It takes courage to advocate new
and different ways of looking at and working with
organizations like the organizational culture
perspective does. The three cases at the end of this


CHAPTER 1
18
chapter provide excellent examples, and the next
paragraph presents excerpts from them to make this
point more vividly.
According to the organizational culture
perspective, the roots of AT&T's basic problems are not
in its structure, information systems or people.
Rather, they rest in an organizational culture which no
longer is appropriate for AT&T's deregulated world.
Focusing on organizational variables like rational
goals, structure, strategic plans and information
systems will not solve AT&T's monumental problems.
A new president of the board of directors could not
pull the Mountain State Chapter, a nonprofit organiza-
tion, into the 20th century because he relied on system
and structural perspective-type tools to try to change
the organization. He knew how to change structures and
systems but did not understand how to change an organi-
zational culture nor how an organizational culture
could impede changes in structures and systems. New
beliefs and values could not be institutionalized at
the Plains State Health Department because those
beliefs were antithical to its culture. State Health
executives effectively isolated them in a small,
isolated, one office, counter-culture.


CHAPTER 1
19
Third, a comprehensive and integrative study of
organizational culture requires analyzing and synthe-
sizing theories and research findings from a wide array
of academic disciplines. The task is formidable. Just
for starters, the fields of organization theory,
archaeology, anthropology, psychology, social psych-
ology, sociology, and even biology contain knowledge,
theories and research methods which are important for
understanding organizational culture and for using the
organizational culture perspective. When one also
considers contributions from sub-disciplines like
material anthropology, cultural anthropology, learning
theory, cognitive social psychology, social construc-
tionism, clinical psychology and transactional
analysis, it becomes readily apparent why few attempts
have been made to "pull it all together."
Summary; The Need for
an Integrative Study
Despite the problems, or more importantly
because of the problems, the need for an integrative,
"pulling it all together" study is evident. The
perspective holds too much potential to be ignored or'
to remain in its current state of rampant disagreement
about even its most basic concepts.


CHAPTER 1
20
Purposes and Organization
of this Study
The overall purpose for this study is to make
usable sense out of organizational culture and the
organizational culture perspective by analyzing and
synthesizing information from a broad array of existing
published sources and from field data collected in
several very different institutions. The overall pur-
pose is ambitious. It can only be accomplished by
taking small steps, one at a time. These steps or sub-
purposes and the chapters in which they are addressed
are:
1. To clarify what organizational culture
is, what comprises it, and the functions it
performs.
The purpose is accomplished in several
steps. First, Chapter 2 examines the elements
which comprise different levels of organizational
culture, the functions they perform, and their
relationships to other elements of organizational
culture. Then Chapter 3 compares and contrasts,
analyzes and synthesizes divergent viewpoints
about the essence of organizational culture and
the organizational culture perspective. A


CHAPTER 1
21
classification system or a typology (Miles &
Huberman, 1984) is created and used to sort
through different concepts, elements, and
functions of organizational culture. The typology
is the analytical framework used in Chapters 4
through 8.
2. To analyze how organizational cultures
form, develop, and are perpetuated and transmitted
to new organization members.
Where do organizational cultures come
from? Why do they differ between organizations
engaged in the same line of work? How are they
maintained and transmitted to new organization
members? Chapter 4 addresses these questions.
3. To trace and analyze the historical
evolution of the organizational culture perspec-
tive, its concepts, assumptions, methods, and
language through the history of organization
theory and other academic disciplines. This
purpose is addressed in Chapters 5 and 6.
In order to appreciate the depth,
richness and applicability of the organizational
culture perspective, it is necessary to understand
its roots and its historical development. The
historical analysis also identifies numerous
unanswered research questions.


CHAPTER 1
22
4. To assess the applicability of different
tools and methods for identifying and measuring
organizational culture, for different purposes and
under different circumstances.
Selection of a research method for
studying organizational culture should take such
things into account as (a) the purposes for the
investigation: for example, an urgent need to
increase the viability of an organization facing a
crisis that threatens its survival, versus
academic research, and (b) the specific concept
(or level) of organizational culture that is used.
These are the subjects of Chapter 7.
5. To analyze some of the more important
practical applications of the organizational
culture perspective.
Chapter 8 concludes this study by merging
organizational culture theory and practicality,
using several organizations as laboratories.
Methodologies Used to Accomplish
the Study's Purposes
Literature Search
The first methodological step in the study
consisted of an extensive literature search which began
in the acadmic fields of organization theory and cul-


CHAPTER 1
23
tural anthropology. However, because the organiza-
tional culture perspective is in its infancy and few
writers in the area agree on much of anything, almost
every article and book on the subject starts from
different assumptions and definitions of organizational
culture, is written from a different slant or perspec-
tive, uses different methodologies, and cites different
sources of theory and research sometimes entire sub-
fields of academic disciplines. Thus, the initial
literature search intentionally was not focused: it
went where citations led it.


CHAPTER)1
24
Figure 1-1
Summary Diagram
The Sequence of Methodological Steps
<----> 1.
<----> 2 .
< ---> 3 .
<> 4 .
< --- 5.
6.
Literature search.
I
Preliminary categorization of informa-
tion from the literature search.
Locate, select, and adapt an integrative
theoretical framework.
I
Create a typology of organizational
culture.
Classify information from the literature
search in the typology of organizational
culture.
v
Design field research procedures.
Collect and code field data into the
typology.
V
7. Analyze and synthesize literature and
field research data.


CHAPTER 1
25
Organizing Information from
the Literature
As one would predict, the product of the first
step was a mass of unconnected and often contradictory
information. Thus the second methodological step
consisted of a first cut at organizing information, and
thus improving the focus of subsequent literature
searching. This step was relatively uncomplicated. It
evolved rather naturally from unanswered research ques-
tions and contradictory assertions and findings in the
initial unfocused searching. It required separating
theoretical and research information into categories:
definitions, component elements, functions, origins,
maintainers, and transmitters of organizational
culture; and strategies, methods, and tools for identi-
fying, researching, managing in, and changing organiza-
tions by altering organizational culture.
Finding and Selecting
a Theoretical Framework
The third methodological step was more diffi-
cult: finding an integrative theoretical framework
which could make sense out of the mass of published
opinions and findings, as well as provide direction for
field research and organize data from it. The first
theoretical framework that was considered is from cul-


CHAPTER 1
26
tural anthropology. It separates theories and research
on societal culture into "adaptationists," or a beha-
vioral and materials artifacts school, and "ideatio-
nists," or a thoughts-and-values school (Keesing,
1974). Although this distinction is helpful, it is not
fine enough for a useful study of organizational
culture, and it doesn't truly accomodate some bodies of
theory which are being applied to the study of organi-
zational culture.
The "symbolic management perspective" of
organization theory provided an alternative theoretical
framework (Pondy, Frost, Morgan & Dandridge, 1983).
The symbolic management perspective is a first cousin
of the organizational culture perspective, with theore-
tical roots in cognitive social psychology and social
constructionism (a sub-field of sociology). However,
where the Keesing-cultural anthropological approach is
too gross when applied to organizational culture, the
symbolic management perspective is too narrow. It
excludes pertinent bodies of theory. Thus, this
researcher settled on Edgar H. Schein's (1981; 1984?
1985) three-level theory of organizational culture
which has academic roots primarily in social psycho-
logy, clinical psychology (including learning theory),
cultural anthropology, and organization theory.


CHAPTER 1
27
Adapting A Theoretical
Framework
In the fourth methodological step, Schein's
three-level concept was modified (to accomodate better
theory from the symbolic management perspective), and
used to create an analytical framework or typology of
organizational culture. Building the typology was an
important step. Each "level" in the typology reflects
different bodies of theory and contains different
methods, tools, and approaches for identifying and
changing organizational cultures. Each level also has
its own practical applications of the organizational
culture perspective for studying and managing organiza-
tions. (See Chapter 3.)
Classifying Information in
a Typology
In the fifth methodological step, products of
the literature search were classified into "slots" or
"boxes" in the typology. As is typical of qualitative
research efforts, methodological steps one through, five
were circular and reiterative. Empty boxes in the
typology set off additional literature searches, "new"
literature discoveries pointed to needed refinements in
the typology, refinements in the typology required
reclassifications of information, and on and on, over
and over. (See Chapter 1, Appendix 1.)


CHAPTER 1
28
The literature search, typology creation, and
literature categorization steps are central to the
purposes for conducting this study. Thus there is no
traditional literature search chapter. Instead, the
literature search is woven through the study, particu-
larly chapters 2 through 6.
Field Research
Field research procedures were designed, and
data were collected and organized (coded) into the
typology in the study's sixth methodological step.
Within-site analyses were designed and conducted (Miles
& Huberman, 1984, chs. III-VI) in five organizations.
Two of them are described in the cases presented at the
conclusion of this chapter. Data from the other three
are merged into the study starting in Chapter 2. The
following pseudonyms have been used for the organiza-
tions: Jones & Jones (a certified public accounting
firm), the Mountain State Chapter of Human Services,
Inc. (a statewide affiliate of a large international
nonprofit organization), State Health (a state depar-
tment of public health), County Center (a nonprofit
agency that arranges for the provision of human
services to persons with developmental disabilities,
and which relies exclusively on public sector funding),
and Scenic Mountain State College (a small rural state


CHAPTER 1
29
college). The coding system matrix is in Chapter 1,
Appendix 1.
Criteria for Selecting
Organizations for Inclusion
Organizations were selected purposively for
10
inclusion in the study, not randomly. Two selection
criteria were used:
1. the organizational culture had to contain
unique elements which would contribute directly
to accomplishing the study's purposes, and
2. the reseacher could gain and maintain intensive
and relatively unrestricted access to organiza-
tional data over an extended period of time,
either in a helper-client or participant-obser-
ver relationship.
Nature of the Research
Relationships
The type and duration of the researcher's
relationship with each of the five organizations is
summarized in Figure 1-2. Operationally, "helper-
client relationship" means the organization asked the
researcher to help it solve fundamental problems invol-
ving organizational culture (Schein, 1984). However,


CHAPTER 1
30
only one of the requests for assistance specifically
used the words organizational culture or organizational
culture perspective (Jones & Jones). At one time or
another during the data collection process, the
researcher's relationship with all of the organizations
represented in this study, was "helper-client." The
researcher's total State Health involvement, however,
is more accurately described as "participant-observer."
There, the reseacher was requested and contracted to
provide on-going technical assistance (not organiza-
tional problem solving) to a small sub-unit (office) in
the organization. Thus the researcher's relationship
with and perspective on State Health was more that of a
quasi-member of the sub-unit. The same is true of the
researcher's first year at Scenic Mountain State
College, but the relationship changed during the second
and third years.


CHAPTER 1
31
Figure 1-2
Type and Duration of Research Involvement
With the Organizations Included in this Study
Type of Relationship
Organization Helper-Client Participant-Observer
Mountain State Chapter 6 Mos., 1983 2 Years., 1984-85
State Health -0 7 Years., 1977-84
County Center 11 Years, 1975-86 -0-
Scenic Mountain State College 3 Years, 1983-86 1 Year. 1982-1983
Jones & Jones 8 Mos., 1985-86 -0-


CHAPTER 1
32
The status of the researcher's involvement with
the Mountain State Chapter was the reverse of that at
Scenic Mountain State College. The researcher origi-
nally gained access to the Chapter through a request to
assist the Chapter work on fundamental organizational
issues. After six months as a contracted "helper," the
researcher was invited to become and became a member of
the Chapter's Board of Directors.
Field Data Collection
Data collection consisted of observations and
interviews (some structured and some unstructured) at
the Mountain State Chapter, State Health, County
Center, and Scenic Mountain State College. No instru-
ments were used.H
The fifth organization included in this study,
Jones & Jones, provided a different research situation
and opportunity. This reseacher did not have an estab-
lished relationship with Jones & Jones prior to intia-
ting formal data collection in August 1985. Futher,
the researcher was asked specifically to diagnose the
organizational culture and to help implement changes in
the culture. Jones & Jones executives agreed to permit
use of concealed firm data in this study, and conceal-
ment guarantees were negotiated.


CHAPTER 1
33
In addition to observations and interviews at
Jones & Jones, the researcher administered Roger
Harrison's instrument for diagnosing organization
ideology and Mark Alexander's "Organizational Norms
Opinionnaire."!-2 At the reseacher's insistence, the
instruments were returned unidentified to him in sealed
envelopes.. They remained sealed until the researcher
had completed interviewing, observing, coding, and
obtaining verification of the accuracy of his "diagno-
sis" of the organizational culture in several ways.
Only then were the instruments unsealed, analyzed, and
the resulting data compared with the (verified) infor-
mation obtained by interviewing and observing.
Completed instruments were received from all organiza-
tion members.
Use of Published Accounts
Published accounts in newspapers, business
journals, and two books (Tichy, 1983; Iacocca, 1984)
were the sole sources of data about the AT&T breakup
and deregulation, and the'situation facing Iacocca at
Chrysler. Data from these two organizations are not
central to this study. They have been included only
because the wide media attention they have received
provides a common base of experience upon which readers
can draw.


CHAPTER 1
34
Analyzing and Synthesizing Data
In the seventh and final methodological step,
the typology was used as the framework for analyzing
and then synthesizing the literature and field research
data. The results are presented in Chapters 2, 4, 6, 7,
and 8.
Three Cases and Analyses
Depicting Different Aspects
of Organizational Culture
Purposes of the Cases
The three cases and the brief analyses which
follow serve two primary purposes: first, they demon-
strate different aspects of organizational culture and
the usefulness of the organizational culture perspec-
tive; and second, they provide examples which are used
repeatedly throughout this study. They are presented
here in Chapter 1 so they are "ready for use" when
needed. The sources of information for each case and
the duration and type of the researcher's involvement
with the organizations are summarized in Figure 1-2.


CHAPTER 1
35
13
Case 1:
An Organizational Culture
that Became a Liability When
the Business Environment Around
AT&T Changed Substantially
The case: For generations AT&T and its opera-
ting telephone companies (The Bell System) were regu-
lated monopolies. Two of the dominant beliefs and
basic assumptions which permeated the Bell System
included (a) it was important to provide telephone
service to everyone indiscriminately. Hence, market
segmentation was not a common pattern of thinking or
decision making, (b) Technical values were at the core
of the Bell System's success, not marketing values.
Since the break-up of the Bell System and the
demise of its regulated monopoly status in most of its
product and service lines, AT&T and its ex-operating
companies have.not fared well in the telecommunications
marketplace. AT&T's marketing problems have been
reported widely in daily newspapers and in business
trade journals. A multitude of firms, many of them
considerably smaller than AT&T, have successfully
cornered lucrative segments of AT&T's voice and data
transmission and equipment markets, frequently out-
maneuvering AT&T and leaving "Ma Bell" looking like a
rather ponderous, uncompetitive dinasour.


CHAPTER 1
36
Analysis: From the organizational culture
perspective, AT&T's primary problems are not size,
structure, intelligence of personnel or lack of sophis-
tication. For example, AT&T and its former operating
companies reportedly have spent millions of dollars
developing sophisticated strategic marketing plans.
The problem from the organizational culture perspective
is AT&T's whole way of viewing and thinking about
itself and its world, and thus the way it conducts
business. It is the inapplicability of the old Bell
System organizational culture in a new competitive
world and AT&T's inability to change its long-standing
organizational culture. The problem includes AT&T's
unshakable belief in the central value of technical
superiority, in its own technical superiority, and
thusly in its inevitable and "rightful place" in the
telecommunications market. The problem manifests
itself but is neither caused by nor limited to, for
example, management recruiting and advancement
policies, corporate information and control systems,
personnel incentive and reward practices, the ways in
which groups of customers and potential customers are
organized in sales plans, and procedures for clearing
new products and services through the organization to
the market


CHAPTER 1
37
From the organizational culture perspective,
AT&T's culture has permeated the organization so
completely and for so long that its basic practices,
beliefs, values and ways of thinking became unques-
tioned assumptions about the nature of reality. Those
assumptions about reality became dysfunctional. When
the world changed around the Bell System, the organiza-
tional culture did not.
Case 2;
A New Leader's Inability to Change
the Organizational Culture at
the Mountain State Chapter
The Case: Human Services, Inc. is a highly
visible international nonprofit organization that
provides recreational programs for people with certain
types of disabilities through a network of volunteers.
Human Services, Inc. was originated by one very caring
person and her immediate family. Human Service, Inc.'s
growth into a national and international organization
was accomplished through a network of the founder's
friends. During its early years, Human Services, Inc.
looked and acted like an extended family.
The growth of the Mountain State Chapter of
Human Services, Inc. parallelled that of the national
organization. A dedicated handful of relatives and


CHAPTER 1
38
friends of people with the disability formed the
Chapter in 1968. Most of the founders became members
of the Chapter's first Board of Directors, but they
also continued as working volunteers, helping with
programs and clients, selling souvenirs and clipping
coupons to raise money, distributing flyers, driving
people to programs whatever needed to be done. As
recently as 1984, six of the Chapter's thirteen
Directors were founders. One founder became the
Chapter's first paid executive director in 1972 and
remained in that position until 1984.
Prior to 1983, selection of new Directors was
by recommendation of staff or existing Directors. All
Directors were expected to help out in running Chapter
programs. Board of Directors meetings were casual
almost social events held every two to four weeks.
Discussions about family problems and post-program
parties often extended well into Board of Directors
scheduled meeting times. Agendas were still being
created as Directors arrived for Board meetings, and
new items of business frequently were introduced from
the floor without warning and often on substantive
issues. The paid executive director acted like a
member of the Board of Directors. She participated
actively in all discussions, refraining only from
voting.


CHAPTER 1
39
Open disagreements among Directors were not
permitted. When opinions were divided at meetings, the
issue in question was simply dropped. Motions were not
tabled formally. If the executive director could
engineer concensus on the issue prior to the next
meeting, it was reintroduced. If not, it was not
allowed back "onto the table."
In 1981, John Thomas, a rapidly climbing
manager in a large firm, approached the Mountain State
Chapter and asked to become a Director. He had no
prior involvement with Human Services, Inc., the
Chapter, or its client population but thought it was a
worthwhile cause and organization for which he would
like to volunteer his leadership and managerial skills.
He is a highly intelligent, aggressive, energetic, and
articulate person whose professional specialties are
strategic planning and quantitative analytical methods.
The Directors were nervous about accepting someone on
the Board who had not been involved previously but, by
their description, "did not know how to tell him 'no'
to his face" when he appeared in person to apply.
In January 1982, Mr. Thomas maneuvered himself
adroitly into the Chapter presidency and hand-selected
a compliant vice-president. Upon taking office, he


CHAPTER 1
40
announced his intention to "pull the Chapter's manage-
ment and the Board of Directors into the 20th century."
His priorities for improving Chapter management
included introducing computer technology, strategic
i
planning, management by objectives (MBO), financial
planning, cash management, staff performance reviews,
an incentive-based employee compensation system, and
expanded media coverage. The amount of private funding
and the number of disabled persons participating in
Chapter programs also were to increase substantially.
He announced that the Board of Directors would
"start working like a business," using a system of
committees to focus its efforts on fund-raising and
broad policy issues. It would dis-involve itself from
programs and thus from client-related issues. Appli-
cants for the Board of Directors would be solicited
from organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the
Junior League. All candidates would be considered
competitively. The Board of Directors would meet only
quarterly, relying on the system of committees to
conduct business in the interim. Agendas would be
distributed at least ten days prior to meetings, and no
issue would be discussed unless it was on the agenda.
Issues not involving policy or broad strategy would not


CHAPTER 1
41
be discussed at Board of Directors meetings. A sche-
duled "Board rotation" procedure would be implemented
under which no Director could remain on the Board for
more than one three-year term. Presidents would rotate
off the Board after completing one term in office. Two
years after rotating off the Board, ex-directors and
ex-presidents could apply and compete for another three
year term.
By fall 1982, it was clear' that John Thomas
could not implement all of his priorities before the
expiration of his term (January 1983) so he changed
the term of office to end on June 30th. By May 1983,
virtually all of his management improvements had been
implemented, and he had engineered passage of several
of his Board of Directors changes including the Board
rotation policy.
Thomas resigned from the Board at the expira-
tion of his term in order to demonstrate his commitment
to the Board rotation policy. In August 1983, a Board
of Directors resolution was introduced from the floor
and passed permitting all existing Directors to fill
another three year term. Of the four Directors who
were scheduled to rotate off the Board in 1983, only
one did so (not including Mr. Thomas). The Directors


CHAPTER 1
42
again started to meet several times a month. By
November, all of Mr. Thomas' management improvements
had withered except an MBO-based employee performance
review procedure (because the staff liked it). An
obviously never used micrcomputer sat in the back of
the Board meeting room with boxes of outdated posters
and plastic coffee cups symbolically strewn on and
around it.
During John Thomas' term in office, the Moun-
tain States Chapter had increased its income and
capital holdings by more than 100%, income from
improved cash management procedures and investments by
more than 75%, media coverage of Chapter events by more
than 100%, the number of disabled persons participating
in Chapter programs by 25%, staff size by 50% and staff
salaries by an average of 14%. The Chapter's accomp-
lishments were formally recognized by Human Services,
Inc., and Chapter representatives were invited to make
presentations at national and regional meetings and
conferences. The Chapter received several requests to
provide volunteer "consultants" to assist other
chapters.


CHAPTER 1
43
In March 1985, John Thomas submitted a letter
asking to be a candidate for the Board of Directors.
However, he was not among the applicants submitted to
the Board of Directors by the nominating committee. He
was not nominated from the floor.
Analysis: From the organizational culture
perpsective, John Thomas attempted to change the Moun-
tain State Chapter from a caring, nurturing, extended
family/support group into an effective and efficient,
business-like organization. While he was physically
present, he was able to take advantage of the Chapter's
behavioral norms to accomplish his ends but not to
change the organizational culture. For example, by
forcing votes on controversial changes, he took advan-
tage of the norm which prohibited Directors from disag-
reeing with each other. Although Thomas regularly
violated that norm, the others would not. Votes went
Thomas' way regularly but, with few exceptions, other
Directors' votes did not signify agreement only
conformance to the norm. His programs for improving
the Chapter reflected a system of beliefs and values
a Chapter identity which were incompatible with the
Chapter's organizational culture.


CHAPTER 1
44
What would have happened if John Thomas had not
voluntarily rotated off of the Board of Directors in
1983, or if he had appeared in person again to apply
for Board membership in 1985? The Directors would have
had to choose among three alternatives: violating
their norm and fighting to protect the Chapter's cul-
ture, continuing to conform to the norm and allowing
the Chapter's culture to be altered, and withdrawing
from the Chapter which presumably also would have
resulted eventually in a changed Chapter culture.
Case 3:
Incompatibility of Two Organizational
Cultures in the Plains State
Health Department
The Case: The Plains State Department of
Health ("State Health") has a long and highly respected
tradition of honestly and vigorously trying to protect
the public from health hazards, sub-standard and
fraudulent health care practices, and excessive health
care costs. State Health has regulated providers of
health care tightly through a very detailed system of
rules and regulations based on very comprehensive state
statutes, typically drafted by State Health personnel.
There is an unstated but pervasive belief at State
Health that health care providers such as hospitals,


CHAPTER 1
45
clinics, nursing homes and practicing physicians can
not be trusted to act in the public's interest. Only
public sector regulatory organizations which do not
provide health care can be so trusted.
From 1972 through 1982, the U. S. Public Health
Service administered a program of competitive grants
for the development of Emergency Medical Services
("EMS") systems across the nation. The Public Health
Service's EMS program had an entirely different set of
beliefs, and the ability of state health departments
(and other organizations within states) to obtain
grants depended upon their acceptance of the Public
Health Service's EMS beliefs and values. Primary among
them was that only practicing physicians were capable
of designing and making systems of medical care work.
Government agencies were to fill subordinate adminis-
trative roles. Practicing doctors were to be the deci-
sion-makers. A second (but unspoken) belief was that
health care cost containment was less important than
the development of a system of highly sophisticated,
strategically located, expensive, medical centers.
The incompatibility of State Health and Public
Health Service EMS values and beliefs caused the Public
Health Service to reject State Health's first three


CHAPTER 1
46
grant applications. The applications clearly communi-
cated State Health's antipathy toward Public Health
Service EMS beliefs and values. After three years
without grant funding, in-state political pressures
finally forced State Health to make the necessary
"paper concessions."
When State Health's first EMS grants were
awarded, serious internal problems began. The EMS
Office (in State Health) was designated to administer
the grants. In order to comply with Public Health
Service EMS grant requirements, the Office invited
practicing physicians to help make medical policy
decisions: for example, identifying and "designating"
hospitals and physicians who were capable of treating
critically ill and injured patients. Potentially,
those decisions could affect hospitals' and doctors'
abilities to attract patients and also to collect from
private and government insurers. Another example of
physician involvement in policy decisions was the allo-
cation of EMS grant funds among medical care providers.
A sub-culture formed rapidly in the EMS Office
which was not compatible with State Health's organiza-
tional culture. In less than one year, the EMS Office
and its employees had been socially and professionally


CHAPTER 1
47
isolated from the rest of State Health. The Office
Director could not obtain even perfunctory support from
State Health executives. Requests for meetings were
ignored and scheduled meetings were canceled without
notice. Documents requiring timely executive action
sat unsigned. State Health executives were "too busy"
to make even ritualistic welcoming speeches at EMS
meetings and conferences. When avoidance of public
forums was impossible, they would speak only to issues
unrelated to EMS. State Health executives repeatedly
invoked questionably applicable rules and regulations
to delay EMS Office activities. The EMS Office was
mandated to develop its own comprehensive set of rules
to control those health care providers who had been
recruited and coopted into the EMS system development
processes.
As the EMS Office became more and more deeply
involved in the Public Health Service program, even its
language and jargon became that of Public Health
Service EMS. By 1979, communications between EMS
Office employees and other State Health personnel were
being impeded by a language barrier as well as by
incompatible beliefs and values.


CHAPTER 1
48
No EMS Office employees were promoted out of
the Office between 1978 and 1985 despite the Office's
undeniable success in administering a series of large
and complex grants. During the same seven year period,
two State Health executives from other offices, who had
fallen out of higher management's favor, were demoted
and "pigeon holed" in the EMS Office where "they
couldn't cause any harm."
Analysis: From the organizational culture
perspective, the problems and their eventual resolution
were obvious and predictable. There was a clash
between two strong cultures, the dominant State Health
culture and the EMS sub-culture or counter-culture. The
sub-culture could survive only as long as Public Health
Service grant funds were flowing and, therefore, local
political pressure was maintained on State Health
executives to comply at least superficially with Public
Health Service EMS thinking. As the end of the EMS
program of grants approached, pressure on the EMS
Office to re-enter the State Health organizational
culture became overwhelming. The Office Director
resigned. By 1985, no vestiges of the EMS sub-culture
remained including its beliefs, values, practices, or
language. The EMS Office and its programs now are
completely reintegrated into the State Health culture.


CHAPTER 1
49
Chapter Summary
This introductory chapter has introduced the
organizational culture concept and perspective, argued
their importance for understanding and managing
organizations, presented reasons why an integrative
study of organizational culture is needed, stated the
purposes for this study and described the methodologies
to accomplish them. Chapter 2 initiates the content of
the study with' explorations of the essence and
functions of organizational culture.


CHAPTER 1
50
Footnotes
x A thorough examination of what organiza-
tional culture is and what it consists of, is presented
in Chapters 2 and 3. The brief statement here is
intended to serve only introductory purposes.
p
All caises and and reportings of field data m
this study depict true situations in real organiza-
tions. Identities of people and organizations have
been concealed except those which have received media
coverage such as in the case of the breakup of the
Bell System and Mr. Iacocca's experience at Chrysler
Corporation. Factors and events have been omitted
from the examples in order to maintain brevity and to
focus attention on important variables.
3 AT&T's organizational culture is described
and discussed further in a case in the concluding
section of this chapter.
4
See Footnote 2.
c
Chapter 3's References contain myriad
examples.
The widely divergent published views about
what organizational culture is, are examined in Chapter
3.
7
The term "integrative" is used throughout
this study in its ordinary sense, meaning multi-discip-
linary in approach, sources and methods, and not direc-
ted toward justifying, supporting or proving a single
viewpoint.
O
Bolman and Deal (1984) provides an excellent
but brief overview of the "symbolic framework."
Kilmann, Saxton, Serpa and Asociates (1985) contains
excellent articles but makes no effort to integrate the
information.
Q
A few others, such as Harrison (1972),
Pettigrew (1979), Van Maanen, Dabbs and Faulkner (1982),
and Van Maanen (1983) have contributed usefully to
aspects of the issue.


CHAPTER 1
51
10
Within-site qualitative research studies in
purposively sampled organizations are in the tradition
of organizational studies conducted by William F. Whyte
(1943), Festinger, Riecken and Schachter (1956), Herbert
Kaufman (1960), and Erving Goffman (1961).
11
The sole exception was the administration of
two organizational climate instruments in 1982. Few
completed instruments were returned, and the results
were inconclusive.
12
Copies of the two instruments are in Chapter
7, Appendices 1 and 2.
13
See Footnote 2.


CHAPTER 1
52
Chapter References
Allen, R. F. & Kraft, C. (1982). The organizational
. unconscious: How to create the corporate culture you
want and need. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-
Hall.
Bennis, W. G. (1984) Transformative power and
leadership. In, T. J. Sergiovanni, & J. E. Corbally
(Eds.), Leadership and organizational culture: New
perspectives on administrative theory and practice
(pp. 64-71). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois
Press.
Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (1984). Modern approaches
to understanding and managing organizations. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Davis, S. M. (1984). Managing corporate culture.
Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.
Festinger, L., Riecken, H. W., & Schachter, S. (1956).
When prophecy fails. Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press.
Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums: Essays on the social
situation of mental patients and other inmates.
Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.
Harrison, R. (1972, May-June). Understanding your
organization's character. Harvard Business Review,
119-128.
Iacocca, L. (1984). Iacocca: An autobiography.
Toronto: Bantam Books.
Jaques, Elliott. (1952). The changing culture of a
factory. New York: Dryden Press.
Kaufman, H. (1960) The forest ranger. Baltimore:
The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Keesing, R. M. (1974). Theories of culture. Annual
Review of Anthropology, _3, 73-79.
Kilmann, R. H., Saxton, M. J., Serpa, R., & Associates.
(Eds.). (1985). Gaining control of the corporate
culture. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


CHAPTER 1
53
Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scientific
revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Martin, J., & Siehl, C. (1983, Autumn). Organizational
culture and counterculture: An uneasy symbiosis.
Organizational Dynamics, 52-64.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1984). Qualitative
data analysis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage
Publications.
Pettigrew, A. M. (1979). On studying organizational
cultures. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 579-
581.
Pondy, L. R., Frost, P. J., Morgan, G., & Dandridge, T.
C. (Eds.). (1983). Organizational symbolism.
Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Sathe, V. (1985). Culture and related corporate
realities: Text, cases, and readings on
organizational entry, establishment, and change.
Homewood, IL: Irwin.
Schein, E. H. (1981) Does Japanese management style
have a message for American managers? Sloan
Management Review, 23, 55-68.
Schein, E. H. (1984). Coming to a new awareness of
organizational culture. Sloan Management Review, 25,
3-16.
Schein, E. H. (1985) Organizational culture and
leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Selznick, P. (1957) Leadership in administration: A
sociological interpretation. New York: Harper &
Row.
Sergiovanni, T. J. (1984). Cultural and competing
perspectives in administrative theory and practice.
In, T. J. Sergiovanni & J. E. Corbally (Eds.),
Leadership and organizational culture: New
perspectives on administrative theory and practice
(pp. 1-11) Urbana, IL: University of Illinois
Press.


CHAPTER 1
54
Sergiovanni, T. J., & Corbally, J. E. (Eds.)* (1984).
Leadership and organizational culture; New
perspectives on administrative theory and practice.
Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
Siehl, C., & Martin, J. (1984). The role of symbolic
management: How can managers effectively transmit
organizational culture? In, J. G. Hunt, D. M.
Hosking, C. A. Schriesheim R. Stewart (Eds.),
Leaders and managers: International perspectives on
managerial behavior and leadership (pp. 227-269).
New York: Pergamon Press.
Tichy, N. M. (1983). Managing strategic change:
Technical, political, and cultyral dynamics. New
York: John Wiley & Sons.
Tichy, N. M., & Ulrich, D. 0. (1984). The leadership
challenge a call for the transformational leader.
Sloan Management Review, 26, 59-68.
Van Maanen, J. (Ed.). (1983). Qualitative methodology.
Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Van Maanen, J., Dabbs, J. M., Jr., & Faulkner, R. R.
(Eds.). (1982). Varieties of qualitative research.
Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Weick, K.
loosely
E. (1982 June) .
coupled schools.
Administering education in
Phi Delta Kappan, 673-676.
Whyte, W.
Chicago
F. (1943). Street corner society.
University Press.
Chicago:


CHAPTER 1
55
CHAPTER APPENDIX 1
FIELD DATA COLLECTION FORMAT


CHAPTER 1
56
DATA COLLECTION FORMAT
Basic Beliefs
Assum- &
ptions Values
Bhav'r
and
Arti-
facts
1. The Organization's Rela-
tionship to its Environment
Reflecting even more basic
assumptions about the relation-
ship of humanity to nature, one
can assess whether the key mem-
bers of the organization view
the relationship as one of
dominance, submission, harmoni-
zing, finding an appropriate
niche, and so on.
2. The Nature of Reality and
Truth
Here are the linguistic
and behavioral rules that de-
fine what is real and what is
not, what is a "fact,'' how
truth is ultimately to be dete-
rmined, and whether truth is
"revealed" or "discovered;"
basic concepts of time as li-
near or cyclical, monochronic
or polychronic; basic concepts
such as space as limited or .
infinite and property as commu-
nal or individual; and so
forth. 3
3. The Nature of Human Nature
What does it mean to be
"human" and what attributes are
considered intrinsic or ulti-
mate? Is human nature good,
evil or neutral? Are human
beings perfectible or not?
Which is better, Theory X or
Theory Y?


CHAPTER 1
57
DATA COLLECTION FORMAT
(Page 2)
Basic
Assum-
ptions
Beliefs
Sc
Values
Bhav'r
and
Arti-
facts
4. The Nature of Human
Activity
What is the "right" thing
for human beings to do, on the
basis of the above assumptions
about reality, the environment,
and human nature: to be ac-
tive, passive, self-developmen-
tal, fatalistic, or what? What
is work and what is play?
5. The Nature of Human
Relationships
What is considered to be
the "right" way for people to
relate to each other, to dis-
tribute power and love? Is
life cooperative or competi-
tive; individualistic, group
collaborative, or communal;
based on traditional lineal
authority, law, or charisma; or
what?
Adapted from Schein (1981), in Schein (1985, p. 14).


CHAPTER 2
THE ESSENCE AND FUNCTIONS
OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
Introduction; The Importance
of Language
Every culture, discipline, perspective, organi
zation, profession, school, and theoretical frame has
its own unique set of conceptual components and
elements upon which its language or jargon is built.
The language, then, becomes the medium through which
the perspective's concepts, elements, values, and
beliefs are communicated. In this sense, a language
serves purposes beyond basic communication. Perhaps
most importantly, language controls cognitive patterns
it affects the way people think about things.
Morgan, Frost and Pondy (1983, p. 10) and Evered (1983
p. 126) assert that language defines and shapes
reality. Greenfield (1984, p. 154) goes further: he
contends that, "language is power. It literally makes
reality appear and disappear. Those who control lan-
guage control thought, and thereby themselves and
others." For example, the Navajo language contains no


CHAPTER 2
59
words meaning "superior," "subordinate," "boss," or
"hierarchy."-*- Navajos historically did not think
about and obviously did not respect hierarchical
organizational relations. The absence of words for
"boss" and "subordinate" symbolizes the Navajos' belief
that a person is a person. Therefore, one does not
accept orders from another simply because of his or her
relative position in an organizational hierarchy.
This language/reality has caused serious problems as
the Navajo Nation has attempted to develop its economy
by attracting and retaining manufacturing enterprises
from the Caucasian world. One would also presume that
it has strongly influenced the organizational culture
of Caucasian-owned industries which have located in the
Navajo land. On the other hand, the absence of such
words in the language helps the Navajos maintain a core
element (basic assumption) of their culture.
The organizational culture perspective is no
exception. It possesses its own language and jargon
for communicating its concepts, components, and
elements which also function to define and maintain its
unique realities. The concepts and elements of organi-
zational culture shape the language of the organiza-
tional culture perspective, and the language, in turn,


CHAPTER 2
60
solidifies the perspective's concepts of organizational
realities. Thus, the language of organizational cul-
ture is both an artifact of the organizational culture
perspective and a shaper or controller of its assum-
ptions, thoughts, beliefs, and concepts. (Language is
discussed more completely in the "Artifacts" section of
this chapter.)
This chapter examines the most important
elements and functions of organizational culture or
what Vijay Sathe (1985) calls "the stuff" of organiza-
tional culture. The chapter is organized into sections
that correspond to the levels of organizational culture
defined in Chapter 3, starting with the most concrete
level (artifacts) and working up to the most abstract
level (unspoken basic assumptions). However, it is
impossible to appreciate the significance of most
organizational culture elements and functions without
an understanding of symbols and symbolism. Thus the
discussion begins with an introduction to these two ,
concepts


CHAPTER 2
61
Symbols: Creators and
Communicators of Meaning
The Meaning of Symbols
Symbols are signs which connote meanings
greater than themselves and express much more than
their intrinsic content. They are invested with speci-
fic subjective meanings. Symbols embody and represent
wider patterns of meaning, and cause people to asso-
ciate conscious or unconscious ideas which in turn
endow them with their deeper, fuller, and often
emotion-invoking' meaning. A sign may be anything: a
word or phrase, policy, flag, building, office, seating
arrangement, picture of a chief executive officer, or
computer terminal. Any sign may become the raw
material for symbol creation when a group of people
subjectively invest it with broader meaning and signi-
ficance (Morgan, Frost & Pondy, 1983).
Examples of Symbols from
the Three Cases
Consider a few signs-turned-symbols from the
three cases presented in Chapter 1. A microcomputer
sitting on a table in the back of the Board of Direc-
tors meeting room became a symbol of John Thomas
efforts to destroy the caring, extended family-like,


CHAPTER 2
62
direct client involvement culture of the Mountain State
Chapter. It was an artifact of an unwanted, feared,
counter-culture. Thus, shortly after Thomas rotated
himself off of the Board, someone strewed outdated
posters and styrofoam coffee cups on and around it.
More than a year later, no one had removed either the
computer or the debris. It was never discussed or
touched. Collectively the computer and the mess on and
around it symbolized a successfully defeated enemy
incursion, a victory for the cherished, organizational
culture. Possibly, it also was left untouched as a
visible reminder for Board members to remain on guard
against similar future threats.
Whereas the computer with its piled debris was
a tangible artifact-become-symbol, "board rotation" was
a verbal symbol which carried at least equally signifi-
cant meaning. Board rotation signified the forced
severance of long-standing personal bonds with an
important support group. Recently, this researcher and
a member of the Chapter's Board of Directors sat near
each other at a meeting of a different organization.
When someone used the phrase "board rotation," the
Director flinched involuntarily, and small red
splotches appeared on his upper neck. He turned to


CHAPTER 2
63
look at me. At lunch, without me raising the subject,
he told me about the horrible feelings he still
experiences whenever he hears the words. It was
obvious that he had to force himself to say them out
loud.
For State Health executives, a private physi-
cian sitting in the front of a room in the State Health
Department building, chairing an official, State
Health-sanctioned, EMS policy advisory committee
meeting, carried the same type of intense symbolic
meaning core assumptions of the organizational
culture were being violated.
State Health executives primarily used actions
as symbols. When the EMS Office was racing to meet a
suddenly-changed grant application deadline, a State
Health executive "borrowed" one of two Office secreta-
ries for a day to fold and staple copies of the State
Health newsletter. The borrowing was done over a lunch
hour when no other Office personnel were present to
help the secretary object. By the time the Office
Director returned from lunch, the borrowing executive
had left the building for the rest of the day. Her
secretary refused to release the EMS Office secretary
without permission from the executive. The symbolic


CHAPTER 2
64
message was unmistakable. State Health did riot want to
have the EMS grants because of the negative counter-
assumptions and values associated with them. Protec-
tion of State Health's cultural values was more impor-
tant than the one and a half million dollars a year the
grants would bring into the state for at least five
years. However, in-state political pressures to get
the grants prohibited State Health executives from
overtly blocking the pursuit of them. Obstructions had
to be subtle. In the case of the borrowed secretary,
the obstruction could be explained away easily to an
outsider {if necessary) as an oversight by another
secretary, or as an unfortunate consequence of under-
staffing at State Health: "If only the legislature
would . these types of situations would never
occur. It was not aimed at or unique to the EMS
Office." Yet, everyone inside State Health knew
exactly what the symbolic message was.
Summary: The Importance
of Symbols and Symbolism
Thus, symbols and symbolism the management
of symbols in an organization are central to organi-
zational culture. They create, maintain and transmit
shared meanings, realities, and truths within organiza-


CHAPTER 2
65'
tions. Because the meaning of a symbol goes beyond the
intrinsic content of the readily visible or audible
sign, and because it is created subjectively by members
of an organization often over a long period of time,
its true significance rarely is apparent to an outsider
or to an organizational newcomer.
This introduction to symbols and symbolism
provides a frame of reference to begin an exploration
of the essence of organizational culture and the
functions it performs. The exploration starts with
relatively concrete artifacts and works up to the
rather abstract basic assumptions.
Artifacts
Products of and Communicators of
Organizational Culture
Artifacts as Symbols
and Signs
Artifacts include material and non-material
objects and patterns which intentionally or uninten-
tionally communicate information about the organiza-
tion's technology, beliefs, values, assumptions, and
ways of doing things. A few examples of material arti-
facts are documents (such as annual reports, internal
memoranda, organizational brochures and sales pieces),
physical lay-outs or arrangements (for example of


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offices, distances between working areas, dividers or
walls between offices, private or shared working
spaces, open or closed doors, leisure-time facilities),
furnishings (like carpeting, sizes of desks and pieces
of. art on walls), patterns of dress or dress codes,
company cars, etc.
Some artifacts reflect and provide useful
information about an organization's technology, like
computers on desks, centrally located equipment or
machinery, the density and locations of filing cabinets
(for example, centralized or dispersed in private
offices) and the complexity of the telephone system
things that archaeologists and anthropologists would
call the primeval carpenter's or the modern executive's
tools of the trade.
However, not all artifacts are tangible things.
Patterned behavior can be an artifact and thus a
symbolic representation of the culture. Organizational
language, jargon, metaphors, stories, myths, and jokes
can be artifacts. Patterns of administrative behavior
and organizational leadership recently have been
described as cultural artifacts rather than as expres-
sions of individual leadership styles or patterns of
behavior (Sergiovanni, 1984). It is not difficult to


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make a convincing argument that some organization
charts are only artifacts symbolic representations
used to satisfy expectations of audiences in and out-
side of organizations, like environmental protection,
minority group, and womens' advocacy groups not
working descriptions of organizational realities
(Meyer, 1984). Thomas Greenfield (1984) argues that
organizations themselves as totalities are cul-
tural artifacts, "they are systems of meaning that can
be understood only through the interpretation of
meaning" (p. 150).
Artifacts may be symbols or merely signs.
When they are simply signs, they serve rational-
functional purposes, like computers process information
and executives borrow others' secretaries to get needed
work done. When artifacts are symbols, they first
serve symbolic purposes, and rational-functional
purposes only secondarily or not at all. Thus, as was
mentioned earlier, symbols and symbolism are crucial to
the organizational culture perspective because they
create, maintain, and transmit shared meanings and
perceptions of truths and realities within organiza-
tions. This last point needs to be understood clearly.
From the organizational culture perspective, meaning,


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reality, and truth are social constructions they
exist as meanings, realities, and truths only because
members of the organization collectively have defined
2
them as such. If truth, meaning, and reality were
absolutes, there would be no organizational culture
perspective.
Artifacts and Organizational
Culture
Chapter 3 concludes that there are "three and
one half" definitional levels of organizational cul-
ture. One of these is "artifacts." According to one
school of thought, artifacts are the culture (Hodder,
1982). However, most proponents of the organizational
culture perspective prefer to use one of the higher
definitional levels, either beliefs and values, or
basic assumptions. For them, artifacts are (a) the
maintainers and transmiters of shared meanings and
perceptions of truths and realities within organiza-
tions, and (b) the readily visible, audible, and/or
tangible products or results of the organizational
culture, from which the culture may be inferred if
the investigator is careful and also uses information
from the other levels. From these definitional
perspectives, artifacts are relatively passive products


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69
or results of culturally influenced behavior and simul-
taneously functionally and/or symbolically active sup-
port systems for the culture. These dual roles of
artifacts help to explain why apparently non-functional
artifacts continue to survive in organizations. From
an organizational culture perspective, nothing survives
in an organization unless it serves purposes. There-
fore, artifacts which do not serve rational-functional
purposes but which continue to survive, like the Moun-
tain State Chapter's computer and the EEO office in
many organizations, may be assumed to be serving impor-
tant symbolic purposes.
To the extent that artifacts are relatively
passive products or results of an organizational cul-
ture, they are easily identified (but unreliable) indi-
cators or indirect measures of the organizational cul-
ture. For example, an organization's programs usually
are visible manifestations or representations of its
cultural beliefs, values, and assumptions. As such,
they are artifacts and, according to Stanly Davis
(1984), they are "like pottery shards, each fragment
has much to tell about the culture. . This is why
it is tempting to collect information about specific
programs and to shy away from the harder task of


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interpreting the values and beliefs that lie behind
them" (p. 12). (The study returns to this subject in
1
Chapter 7.)
Language: An Artifact,
Communicator of Culture,
and Shaper of Thought Patterns
As was stated in the opening paragraphs of this
chapter, language is an integral and complex element of
organizational culture. It fills two very significant
theoretical and practical roles. In its more obvious
role, language is something which must be learned by
organization members in order to communicate effec-
tively and, therefore, to "get along." An organi-
zational newcomer or an outside observer will find much
communication incomprehensible and will be unable to
communicate on an equal footing. Sometimes an organi-
zation's language resembles the language of its domi-
nant technology, like electronics engineering, accoun-
ting, or, as at State Health, health care regulation (a
blending of public health, health care economics,
legalese, and administrative practices). Most organi-
zations' languages, however, have unique words,
phrases, and acronyms which are not recognizable even
to others who have backgrounds in the same technology.


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Organizations typically provide formal or
informal ways to instruct newcomers in the language of
the organization: the unique terminologies, codes,
acronyms, and sign systems, as well as the symbols and
metaphors that convey the culture of the particular
organization. The more formal instructional methods
include orientation sessions, apprenticeships or desig-
nated mentor relationships, and training programs. Thus
police departments typically assign fresh recruits to
ride with and be "broken in" by veterans (Van Maanen,
1976).
A common language also serves to identify
quickly members of a social group or sub-group. Those
who do not speak the language or the jargon are identi-
fied easily as outsiders. Ranter (1983) and Ranter and
Stein (1979) have shown that many organizations have
systematically excluded women and minority group mem-
bers from participation in highly visible, upward
mobility-promoting settings (like interdivisional, mul-
tiple-level task forces working on significant organi-
zational plans) because of race or sex. The exclusion
has prevented members of these groupings from learning
the language needed to be identified as having upward
mobility potential, and thus they are excluded from
subsequent upward mobility-promoting settings.


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Cultural anthropologists have always viewed
language both as an artifact and as a shaper or
controller of thoughts and concepts. For example,
currently there is wide concensus among American
Indian educators that tribal cultures can not be main-
tained without also preserving use of language. And,
without words for "boss," "supervisor," "subordinate,"
and "hierarchy," Navajos can not be expected to revere
directives from higher organizational authorities.
The repeated use of the words "meaning,"
"concept" and "perception" in this chapter reflects the
central importance of language in the organization
culture perspective. Organizationally-related con-
cepts, meanings, and perceptions, all of which are
socially constructed, are made available to the mind
through language. They are communicated to others
through verbal, written, or sign language. For
example, without language, it would be impossible to
communicate the concept of the color green. Without a
concept (truth, meaning, or reality) of green, it would
be impossible to- determine that frogs are green.
3
At Jones & Jones, the word "client" is never
used by itself. Within the company office (hopefully
but not always with no clients present), clients- are


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called "assholes." "Asshole" is used as a word by
itself like, "An asshole just called and. .", or one
frequently hears the phrase, "clients are assholes."
The word is used metaphorically, not analogously. Thus
you do not hear, "That client acts like an asshole."
The language metaphor reflects a fundamental truth at
Jones & Jones: clients are assholes, they don't just
act like them. New members of the firm learn the
language and the truth quickly.
Thus, language affects thought patterns and
concepts: it can require or prevent patterns of
thought. At Jones & Jones, the language virtually
requires organization members to think of clients as
assholes. In Navajoland, the language prevents people
from thinking about hierarchical reporting relation-
ships. This is why Greenfield (1984) asserts that
language is power, a force that makes reality appear
and disappear. "Those who control language control
thought, and thereby themselves and others" (p. 154).
Like the more tangible artifacts, language is
both a product of the culture, and a maintainer and
transmitter of it. However, as was described earlier,
language is most central to the organizational culture
perspective because of its power or influence over
4
thought and perceptions of reality.