Drawing on Appropriate Theory & Examples (I.E. Published Research, Case Studies and Personal Examples) Discuss the Extent to Which Managers Can Influence the Culture of an Organisation?

4262 Words Apr 18th, 2008 18 Pages
Culture is a term that is used in workplaces discussions but it is taken for granted that we understand what it means. In their publication In Search of Excellence, Peters and Waterman (1982) drew a lot of attention to the importance of culture to achieve high levels of organisational effectiveness. They made use of over 100 years of theory and research in cultural anthropology and folklore studies to inspire and legitimise their efforts. This generated many subsequent publications on how to manage organisational culture (e.g. Deal & Kennedy 1982; Ott 1989; Bate 1994).

If organisational culture is to be managed it helps first to be able to define it. However defining culture is not an easy task due to the many different perspectives
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In this paradigm, organisational culture is primarily a set of values and beliefs articulated by leaders to guide the organisation. ‘Scientific rationalists’ strategies for change focus on ‘modular, design-and-build activity’ often related to structures, procedures and rewards (Bate 1994, p.11).

Discussion, within this paradigm, within organisational culture is usually from the perspective of managers and often emphasise the leader 's role in creating, influencing or transforming culture: ‘leaders help to shape the culture. The culture helps to shape its members … culture, then, stands at the apex of the leader’s responsibility hierarchy’ (Hampden-Turner 1990, pp.7, 9).

After the consideration of organisational culture as unitary I will now discus the possibilities of pluralist sub-cultures within the one organisation. Writes on this subject may adopt a fragmented or anarchist perspective and claim that ‘consensus fails to coalesce on an organization-wide or sub cultural basis, except in transient, issue-specific ways’ (Frost et al. 1991, p. 8).

A unitarist perspective underpins various category descriptions of organisational culture. A good example of this is Handy (1993), who believes an organisation will display either a role, task, power or person orientated culture. Writers with a unitary perspective believe in a top-down leadership