Friday, June 21, 2013
PERSPECTIVE OF ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE
1.0.0 Introduction The increased levels of volatility and dynamism in the contemporary commercial realms has necessitated that commercial organizations come up with business techniques and strategies that will enable them to best outline and attain set organizational objectives. Culture is perceived as presenting a metarphor through which the operations of commercial organizations and their response to issues in their environment may be understood. In similar manner to a river with many tributaries, organizational culture is formulated by the contributions of all members in a corporation. Culture can also be described metaphorically as a tree with very deep roots. In similar manner to a tree having different parts, organizational culture is characterized by different contributions from the various members of the corporation. Moreover, such culture develops over elongated periods of time through the interplay of intricate individual and group factors. Culture is one of the organizational phenomena that has attracted a lot of interest from management scholars and theorists in current times. As a matter of fact, Deal and Kennedy (1982) posit that culture is the most significant component of an organization that determines whether or not a commercial organization will fail or successfully attain its set commercial objectives. Baker (2009, p. 2) claims that the emergence of the “organizational culture” phenomenon altered the focus that had previously been allocated to the functional aspects of management to the qualitative aspects. Adkins and Caldwell (2004, p. 969) describe organizational culture as the communal mannerisms and conducts that are depicted by people who are affiliated to the same organization; organizational culture also described as the different meanings that the members of an organizational assign to their actions (Tharp, 2009, p. 3). This paper will describe the concept of organizational culture in detail before comparing and contrasting the Functionalist and Intepretive perspectives of organizational culture. In addition to this a discussion of the intepretive perspective of cultural organization in the school will be discussed. At the end of the paper, a summative conclusion will be drafted followed by an alphabetical list of the references cited herein. 2.0.0 Organizational Culture According to Baker (2009, p. 1) the phenomenon of organizational culture rose to the top of the agenda in many commercial organizations in the 1980s, particularly in the nation of Japan. It was during this period that scholars in the scientific management field pointed out the importance of corporate culture in enhancing organizational productivity and performance. Organizational scientists argued that the culture in corporations could be managed for purposes of enhancing the performance and competitive edge of a commercial organization (Baker, 2009, p, 2). In the present day the phenomenon of organizational culture has gained increased preeminence due to increased rivalry in the commercial arena, corporate alliances and mergers as well as increased rates of globalization. Baker (2002) purports that modern day corporates are characterized by an increased need for product innovation as well as the harmonization and incorporation of organizational departments for purposes of attaining increased effeciency and quality. The need for management of human resource diversity and resolving conflicts in corporations has also increased in the present day. 3.0.0 Models of Organizational Culture There are a number of organizational culture models that have been described by thinkers and scholars over the years. Charles Handy Model Handy (1976) came up with four different types of organizational cultures. The first type was power. This organizational culture refers to that found in commercial organizations where power, influence and decision making authority is wielded by a few workers. In such an organization, the powerful individuals delegate duties and the other subordinate employees have to faithfully obey their instructions. Unfairness and impartialities in such an organization may cause unrest. The second type of organizational culture described by Handy (1976) is task culture. This refers to thae organizational culture in which teams are created to accomplish organizational goals or solve issues in the firm. Workers in such a culture contribute uniformly and are expected to accomplish tasks innovatively. Person culture refers to a corporate culture in which the employees perceive themselves as being more important that the corporate itself. As a consequence, employees tend to place their personal interests and goals before those of the firm; such an organization eventually fails due to lack or loyalty and commitment by the workers. The last type of organizational culture described by Handy (1976) is role culture. This typifies and organization in which tasks are asigned to workers based on their interests, specializations and educational training. In such a culture, power is characterized by responsibility as workers own their tasks (Handy, 1976). Deal and Kennedy Cultural Model One of the initial models of organizational culture was forwarded by Deal and Kennedy (1982). In this model, these two scholars argued that organizational culture is comprised of six cultural elements that are interconnected. These elements include the corporate history, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, stories, heroic figures and the cultural network. Deal and Kennedy (1982) were convinced that the foundations of corporate culture are laid down by the shared history of an organization’s affiliates. While values and beliefs are described as playing a great role in the creation of cultural identity, the rituals and ceremonies in a corporation enhance organizational culture by bringing the employees together by engaging in shared activities. Corporate stories and heroic figures illustrate the values and principles of a commercial organization and also describe employees and managers that have managed to personify these values in the history of the organization. The sixth element of organizational culture described by Deal and Kennedy (1982)- cultural network- implies that the culture in commercial organizations is influenced significantly by the informal set of connections that typify the organizations. It was through an analysis of these elements that Deal and Kennedy (1982) came up with four types of organizational cultures and factors in the market place that influence cultural patterns and practices as depicted in figure 1 below. Figure 1 The Tough-Guy –Macho type of organizational culture is characterized by risk takers that get timely feedback on decisions made; only successful workers work hard to be icons, for instance those in the entertainment industry. In the organizational culture of Work Hard-Play Hard workers take fewer risks and they receive instant feedback. This culture is characterized by teamwork and employees depict a high level of energy in an endevor to excel (Deal and Kennedy, 1982). The Bet Your Company type of organizational culture is typified by high risk decisions and feedback is slow. Such cultures are common in pharmaceutical and architectural firms where emphasis is placed on planning, preparing and meticulous performance. Process organizational cultures are characterized by slow feedback, and increased focus by employees on technical excellence (Deal and Kennedy, 1982). 4.0.0 Functionalist And Interpretive Perspective Of Organisational Culture Comparison and Contrast Sulkowski (2010, p. 110) points out that until now, scientific management has not indicated any signs of presenting the business field with epistomological monism. As a result of this, the differences and antagonism between the functionalist and intepretive perspectives of organizational culture persist. The two main contrasting perspectives regarding organizational culture are the functionalist and intepretive approaches. According to Sternberg (2010) the functionalist view of organizational culture describes organizational culture based on the roles that are fulfilled by culture in the corporation. This perception is inclined towards the principle that organizations can best be understood by analyzing their survival. Glendon and Stanton (1998, p. 2) state that the functionalist approach is based on the presupposition that organizational culture should be manipulated for the best interests of the corporation. Consequently, functionalist perceive the main purpose of organizational culture as supporting the strategies, policies and networks that characterize a commercial organization. This assumption is based on the view of organizational culture as very easy to fragment into simple models of prediction and management (Glendon and Stanton, 1998, p. 2). The fact that organizational culture in functionalism is perceived as purposed to supoort managerial philosophes may lead to unethical managements making use of organizational culture to “coerce” and “control” the human resource. Sternberg (2010, p. 510) claims that in spite of the functionalist perspective being characterized by static values that are deeply embedded in the corporation, such values are not constructed socially. Morgan (1980, p. 608) argues that “the functionalist paradigm is based upon the assumption that society has a concrete, real existence, and a systematic character orientated to produce order and regulated state of affairs”. Glendon and Stanton (1998, p. 2) describe the intepretive perspective of organizational culture as an alternative to the functionalist perspective. The intepretive approach towards organizational culture perceives organizational culture as characteristic of the social groupings in a corporation. Organizational culture is described as an instrument through which the affiliates of an organization can construe their shared identity, beliefs and conduct. Glendon and Stanton (1998, p. 2) state that organizational culture is formulated by every member of the corporation and no single group in the organization can claim ownership of the existent organizational culture. According to Schein (1990, p. 110) the intepretive perspective of organizational culture acknowledges that orgnizational culture is made up of patterns of presuppositions formulated by the members of the corporation in an attempt to adopt to the environment. The formulated culture is then passed on to new organizational members as the acceptable guide for problem solving as well as cognition and behavior. The interpretive paradigm inclines towards the perception of society as a mutually dependent system in which every component is significant. The interpretive perspective of organizational culture thus perceives every member of the corporation as very important in ensuring organizational success as demonstrated by the workers’ production and performance. It is, however, notewothy that workers in any corporation have different behaviors and therefore their conduct and practices in the corporation will differ. This is described by Turner (2010) in the Order and Stability Theory. The functiionalist perspective of organizational culture perceives social concepts such as communication, as being materialistic and with the ability to be manipulated with the intention of creating corporations that are not only strong, but also competitive. The members in an organization typified by functionalism are believed to be engaged in a unitary pursuit of common objectives. The intepretive approach, on the other hand, views the actuality of daily existence in the corporation as a product of communication as the members of the organization endevor to define and understand the experiences that they go through. Rather than be unified, the members of a corporation inclined towards the intepretivite perspective are understood as having different goals and priorites. A functionalist perspective to organizational culture is perceived as a “top down” system due to the fact that it is supportive of the controlling group’s strategic necessities (Glendon and Stanton, 1998, p. 3). The intepretive approach, on the other hand, is described as a “bottom up” approach that enables people from different subcultures to exist harmoniously within a corporation. It is noteworthy that a majority of businesses in the contemporary day are characterized by elements of both the functionalist and intepretive perspectives of organizational culture (Glendon and Stanton, 1998, p. 3). When a commercial organization, for instance adopts risk management policies that are very stringent and formalized, it is perceived to be inclining towards the functionalist perspective of organizational culture. In a corporation which inclines towards the intepretive perspective the employees and groups involved in risky activities would simply be exposed to a process of open-ended dialogue aimed at encouraging them to learn from past errors. Glendon and Stanton (1998, p. 3) further state that, in spite of many organizations being characterized by elements of both the functionalist and intepretive perspectives towards organizational culture, the intepretive perspective of culture is perceived as being more approporiate than the functional one when it comes to certain organizational practices such as modelling the conduct and cognitions regarding safety in the corporation. Critique of Each Perspective The functionalist approach is perceived as being too mechanistic and lacking when it comes to effectively responding to the characteristic of commercial organizations as being socially construed. In addition to this, the functionalist perspective of organizational culture is has a propensity towards managerial bias which may explode into a form of manipulative dictatorship. In addition to this, the fact that functionalism perceives culture as “emergent” makes it difficult for cyulture to be created or manufactured. The intepretive perspective of organizational culture is also characterized by a number of weaknesses. The first weaknesses is the fact that such a perspective is politically naïve as it ignores the power aspect of culture. In addition to this, the intepretive approach fails to respond to the larger social circumstances as well as the specific cultures being deliberated upon. 5.0.0 Relevance of Interpretive perspective in an Educational Organization The intepretive perspective of organizational culture is depicted in the school setting where the writer works. The New Systems Model, formulated by Reigeluth et al (1993), is very significant in discussing the manner in which associations between the work and societal contexts are construed. In order to accomplish the set organizational objectives and attain success, the management in schools realize that all the members of staff, as well as the different departments in the school are significant. In addition to this, the set objectives in the school are also interelated with the society in which the school is set due to the fact that the school’s stakeholders exist in this society. A feasible example, as depicted by Bailey (1994), are the policy makers that establish the rules and regulations by which schools are managed. As already indicated in the introductory part, the school organization can be metaphorically described by use of the river. In similar manner to a river that has numerous tributaries, a school organization attains success and accomplishes its goals through the contributions of the various departments. A river can also be utilized to illustrate the self organization principle in schools. Just like a river forms its pattern through the interaction of different elements on its course, the structure of a school organization depends on a variety of functional agencies to improve its operations. According to Davis (1999) in similar manner to the flexibility demostrated by a river as it flows on its course, school organizations are characterized by a certain level of flexibility particularly in the decision making processes. The flexibility of a river enables it to transform its courses and advance. The New Systems Model, formulated by Reigeluth et al (1993), states that it is very important for organizations to remain flexible so as to maintain their operations and be able to attain sustainable growth. Lack or flexibility in such an organization causes organizational stagnation which is very disastrous for the organization’s future (Farazmand, 2002). As already indicated, the intepretive perspective of organizational culture is that such culture is not static but rather dymanic and continous. A river tends to increase in force and velocity as the amount of water from tributaries increases. Similarly, school organizations have atendency to increase their energy so as to effectively respond to the increased levels of intricacy in the organization. The complexity or intricacy in school organizations is amplified by an increase in the number of students or departments. Such increases require the school management to plan for the erection of new school structures as well as departmental sub-divisions. An increase of students in the school also necessitates an increase in the number of teachers and non-teaching staff such as cooks and cleaners. In addition to this, Dorf and Bishop (2001) incline towards the Chaos Theory which states that they are phenomena that can not be changed and purports that certain factors in the school organization cannot be changed. Although the school organization may succeed in managing the number of students admitted in the school is it almost impossible to control technological transformations since these occur internationally. The only feasible response to such an eventuality is to fit in the unavoidable changes in the school organization. In a school organization teachers, learners and members of the non-teaching staff have to work collaboratively with the school management so as to attain the set intents for the school. The head teacher acts as the manager in the school institution and ascertains that all the different departments in the school work harmoniously in a manner that makes them fit into the school organization (Urry, 2000). The head teacher also ensures that the organization can easily find its equilibrium zone in the event that shocks upset the balance that exists between the different school institutions as suggested by Farasmand (2002). 6.0.0 Conclusion Corporate culture is one of the most paramount factors in ensuring the success of a commercial organization. As already indicated in this paper, both the finacial and social facets of corporations contribute significantly to the corporations’ overall success; consequently, neglecting the cultural aspect of a commercial organization has a tendency to lead to poor economic performance in an organization. This paper has also critically analyzed the functionalist and intepretive perspectives of or ganizational culture. While the functionalist approach perceives organizational culture as consistent, based on consensus and characterized by unified actions by organizational members, the intepretive approach perceives corporate culture as dynamic, continous and characterized by members with different goals and priorites. The different weaknesses of both perspectives have also been explained. The functionalist approach is perceived as being too mechanistic and lacking when it comes to effectively responding to the characteristic of commercial organizations as being socially construed. On the other hand, the intepretive perspective of organizational culture is politically naïve as it ignores the power aspect of culture. It is interesting that the functionalist perspective of organizational culture is characterized by a larger number of weaknesses than the intepretive perspective to organizational culture. The intepretive perspective of organizational culture depicted in the school setting where the writer works has also been described in detail by making use of the river metaphor. 7.0.0 Work Cited Adkins, B. and Caldwell, D., (2004), “Firm or Subgroup Culture: Where Does Fitting in Matter the Most?”, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25 (8), pp. 969- 978 Bailey, K.D., (1994), “Sociology and the New Systems Theory: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis”, New York: State of New York Press Baker, A. K., (2002), “Organizational Culture”, [Online] Available from: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/doe/benchmark/ch11.pdf, [Accessed on 9th May 2013] Davies, B., (1999), “Exploring Chaos: Theory And Experiment”, Reading, Mass.: Perseus Books Deal, T. E and Kennedy, A. A., (1982), “Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life”, Harmondsworth, Penguine Books Dorf, R. C., & Bishop, R. H., (2001), “Modern Control Systems (9th ed.)”, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Farazmand, A., (2002), “Modern Organizations: Theory and Practice”, Westport, Conn: Praeger Glendon, A. I. and Stanton, N. A., (1998), “Perspectives on Safety Culture”, [Onlines] Available from http://v-scheiner.brunel.ac.uk/bitstream/2438/2032/1/Perspectives%20on%20Safety%20Culture%20-%20Glendon%20&%20Stanton.pdf [Accessed on 9th May 2013], pp. 2-10 Handy, C. B., (1976), “Understanding Organizations”, Oxford University Press Morgan, G. (1980), “Paradigms, Metaphors And Puzzle Solving In Organization Theory”, Administrative Science Quarterly,608 Reigeluth, C. ,Banathy, B. H. & Olson, J. R., (1993), “Comprehensive Systems Design: A New Educational Technology”, Berlin: Springer-Verlag Schein, E.H., (1990), “Organizational Culture”, American Psychologist 45, pp. 109–119 Sternberg, M., (2010), “Narrativity: From Objectivist to Functional Paradigm”, Poetics Today,31(3), pp. 507-659 Sulkowski, L., (2010), “Two Paradigms in Management Epistemology”, Journal of Intercultural Management, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 109-119 Tharp, B. M., (2009), “Four Organizational Culture Types”, Harworth, pp. 1-5 Turner, J. H. (2010). Theoretical principles of sociology. New York: Springer Urry, J. (2000), “Metaphors: Sociology Beyond Societies: Mobilities For The Twenty-First Century”, Routledge.
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