Meaning, Definition, Characteristics, Elements of Organisational Culture

Table of Contents:-

Organisational Culture Meaning 

Organisational Culture refers to the personality or traits of the organisation. It signifies the unofficial aspects of the organisation instead of its professional aspects. It emphasises the values and beliefs and customs of the employees of the organisation and how the aspects resulted in mixed meanings. Instead of being formal, culture is informal and is marked by symbols and rituals. 

It defines what type of people will prefer working in an organisation and who will be successful. Culture also provides guidelines regarding the training and development of employees. It states the kind of knowledge and abilities required by the employees to give better performance in the organisation.

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Organisational culture refers to the common values and beliefs that prevail in an organisation, and enable employees to understand the roles and customs of an organisation. Organisation culture is represented by distinct features of the organisation. These distinctive features differentiate one organisation from the other. Also, performance styles and experiences play a vital role in building the culture of an organisation. It is the surrounding in which an employee and organisation connect.

Organisational Culture Definition

According to O’Reilly, “Organizational culture is the set of assumptions, beliefs, values, and norms that w shared by an organisation’s members”. 

According to Schein, “Organisational culture is a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned it solved its problems that have worked well enough to be considered valid and are passed on to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel about those problems”

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Organisational Culture Characteristics

Following are some of the essential characteristics of organisational culture:

1) Prescriptive: It defines the kind of attitude that is socially accepted.

2) Socially Shared: An organisation’s culture should necessarily be based on the norms created and followed by society. A culture can’t have a particular existence. It is socially shared by people and thus plays a vital role in strengthening the prescriptive nature of culture.

3) Smoothens Communication: Culture also helps in providing a platform for communication among people who belong to the same culture. Alternatively, it can also hinder communication among people from different groups due to different cultural values.

4) Learned: Culture is not inborn. It is something that is gradually learned and attained. Socialisation or enculturation takes place when an individual learns and practices a culture in which he is born and brought up. On the contrary, acculturation takes place when a person learns and practices a different culture than the one with which he is not familiar.

5) Subjective: People born in different cultures have different thought processes. The ideas that are acceptable in one culture might not necessarily be acceptable in another culture. In this context, culture is said to be both subjective and exceptional. Thus, the same event that takes place in two different cultures can be inferred differently. 

6) Long Term: A culture is constant and everlasting as it is shared and passed on from one generation to The world around us changes from time to time but people being considered traditionalist remains the same and is hard to change.

7) Growing: Culture depends on various circumstances which have occurred centuries or millenniums back. A value or two is added to culture by every generation and passed on to the next generation. Thus, culture continuously broadens with time as new ideologies are added to it and they become an important part of the culture.

8) Dynamic: Though culture passes on to generations, still it is not stationary and resistant to change Culture keeps on changing with time and moulds itself to new circumstances, knowledge and experiences.

Characteristics of Organisational Culture

Elements of Organisational Culture

The following are the elements of organisational culture: 

1) Artifacts: The tangible things that represent a culture are called artefacts. They contain symbolic characteristics They act as reminders and triggers such as the company’s first product, awards gained in challenging competition, etc.

2) Stories, Histories, Myths, Legends and Jokes: Culture is also passed in the form of stories either in a planned manner through learning devices or delicately through funny instances.

3) Rituals, Rights, Ceremonies and Celebrations: Rituals are those procedures or sets of affairs that are repetitive and have a particular meaning. They are repeated on particular occasions. They might be linked with an organisational event such as the launching of a new product.

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4) Heroes: The people who act as role models or ideals in culture are called heroes. They teach the employees how to behave honestly and ideally.

5) Symbols and Symbolic Actions: They are similar to artefacts. They remind people about the norms and beliefs related to the culture. Symbols in an organisation can vary from images of its products on the walls to handshakes between different members across the globe. They also tell about the cultures and beliefs of the organisation.

6) Beliefs, Assumptions and Mental Models: An organization and its culture have common beliefs and ideas regarding the world which helps in free flow and agreeable communication. It has a drawback in that at times it acts as a fatal shield that stops people from viewing the upcoming hazards.

7) Attitudes: Attitudes are the external demonstrations of inherent thoughts that people display while interacting with other members of the same culture. 

8) Rules, Norms, Ethical Codes, and Values: The strict codes of conduct, which a person should follow or fear rejection, are called the norms and values of a culture. These rules, norms, values and codes are strongly engrossed in the artefacts, stories, symbols, attitudes, etc.

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