Organizational Culture

Best Practice Overview

Culture is a type of organizational analysis that is borrowed from the field of anthropology. It first was described as an organizational unit of concern in 1979. In the short time since culture and its relevance to organizational systems have been matters of academic and professional concern, many books and articles have been written to define and describe the nature of organizational culture. To date, no single universally accepted definition exists; however, the term organizational culture generally is accepted as referring to the shared meanings, beliefs, and understandings held by a particular group or organization about its problems, practices, and goals.

Best Prcatice Implementation Considerations 

The concept of organizational culture is often misunderstood and confused with the related concepts of climate, ideology, and style. Culture can be defined in terms of:

  • Overt organizational behavior
  • Organizational ideology and philosophy
  • Group and organizational norms
  • Espoused organizational values
  • Policies, procedures, and rules of socialization
  • Climate

Best Practice Summary

Organizational cultures evolve from the social practices of members of organizations and are, therefore, socially created realities that exist in the heads and minds of organizational members as well as in the formal rules, policies, and procedures of organizational structures. Culture is an ongoing process of reality construction, providing a pattern of understanding that helps members of organizations to interpret events and to give meaning to their working worlds.  It is imperative for organizational leaders to model, frame and reinforce the supporting behaviors.  This can be most effectively accomplished by designing in the cultural norms, “be” the culture.