Organizational culture, sometimes also referred to as corporate culture, is a general term that outlines the collective attitudes, beliefs, common experiences, procedures, and values that are prevalent in an organization and others similar to it. Organizational culture is the phrase much more likely to be used within the corporate world itself, as it also affects stakeholders, who may or may not be directly involved in the daily transaction.
Organizational culture tends to be the larger shared goals and vision for a company, but that doesn’t make it the end. Within the larger organizational culture will be many smaller sub-cultures that are still dedicated to the larger picture, but have their own system of operating and working to be more efficient in their task, and their part of the larger picture. This helps to create unity and increase general worker efficiency. Organizational culture helps to establish the expected guidelines, expectations, and rules that will help the company achieve their goals.
A classic example of this would be computer tech people. Because of the extremely specialized nature of their expertise, computer technicians are likely to have their own odd behaviors, working conditions, and strategies to getting the job done. Computer language leads to a whole series of terminologies or technologies that many non computer people won’t have a clue about–but their organizational sub culture affects the larger organizational culture as a whole, for the better or worse of the company, but hopefully for the better!
There are different measures of this as well. A company or corporation that has a staff which responds strongly to organizational values and can successfully pass that on to the workers at every level are considered to be part of a “strong culture.” Inversely, if the opposite is true where overly restrictive rules, procedures, and bureaucracy are necessary to enforce the company’s vision, then that is definitely considered “weak culture.”
Weak organizational culture is a detriment to a company for obvious reasons. The extra supervision, rules, and bureaucracy cause the company to be less efficient and less effective. In addition, having these extra layers also tends to be much more expensive, which will obviously show on the bottom line. Weak cultures can not take advantage of an opportunity that demands quick, decisive action.
Strong organizational culture tends to be a good thing, but there are also some dangers that have to be watched. For one, if everyone is completely in line with the organizational culture of a company, and hold the same centralized beliefs on how the goals should be accomplished, then there is a danger of “group think.” This is where an entire group thinks in such similar terms that they lose the ability to become innovative or take a unique approach to a problem. To put it another way, they lose their ability to “think outside the box.”
Organizational culture is still necessary for any company of size, and a strong organizational culture combined with an openness to new creative ideas and problem solving can be the building blocks to something amazing.