Saturday, January 22, 2011

Organisational culture

Organisational culture
Organisational culture is the collection of traditional values, policies, beliefs and attitudes that constitute a pervasive context for everything we do and think in  an organisation.
(Mullins 2010: 829)

The visual aspects of culture in an organisation are all these aspects which concern the exterior layer of the organisation and we first come in contact with. These are for instance: way people dress, rites, rituals and habits, mottoes, staff’s language and jargon, management style etc.
I have been working in TRS 24:7 agency as a waitress for five months. This business has a lots of visible aspects of culture. First and foremost each TRS’ employer is required to wear a uniform during work. It consists of smart white shirt, black trousers, waistcoat and bowtie or tie. This dress makes a good impression at the customers, not only those real guests in hotels but also on managers we are working with.
Secondly all the staff can speak only English language while being on the hotel premises. The workers have to obey this principle due to the fact in this company there is a lot of foreigners. And the other people who don’t understand e.g. Polish, Indian or Portuguese can feel awkward and sometimes can even take offence thinking those people are gossiping about them.
Thirdly the TRS’s motto which is even in a brand name (24:7) says that the workers are available 24 hours a day. They can take morning shifts which sometimes start at 6 a.m. as well as they can work evening shift which can finish at 4 a.m.

Charles Handy, Irish philosopher born in 1932, describes four types of organisational cultures: power culture, role culture, task culture and person culture.
Power culture can be found in small entrepreneurial organisations where are few rules and procedures and sometimes a little bureaucracy. The biggest power has a central figure - ’head’ which has an impact throughout the organisation.  A power culture  is characterized by trust, empathy and personal communications for its effectiveness. Decisions are taken largely on the balance of influence and are very fast. A political party with a strong leader where members comply with the leader’s rules can be an example of  power culture.
Role culture is typical for the a bureaucracy and working by logic and rationality. The interaction between organisation is controlled by strict procedures and rules. People work to a job description which is often more important than the individual, and position in the main source of power. Role culture is typical for public services for instance healthcare and police.
Task culture is project-oriented. This type of organisation is focused on team working and gathering people around the task. Individuals and rules are less important than a task. Influence is widely spread and based more on expert power than on position or personal power. Task culture allows freedom and flexibility as there are not many rules to work with. The example of this kind of organisation can be McDonalds. During busy times like lunch or dinner hours  the staff have to work effectively as a team to ensure that all orders are completed properly and within a set time.
Person culture is where the individuals are centre focus and any structure exists to serve the individuals within it, there is no hierarchy. These organisations consist of people, who can work separately, such as: barristers, architects, doctors, surgeons or consultants.

Trying to classify culture into one of the four types described above often turns out to be quite difficult because most large businesses are likely to be  a mix of cultures with example for each of the four types in varying areas of the organisation. Each company is different than another, it happens that more than one culture can be found in one work place. There are different people who prefer working in different types of organisation culture and they are  more likely to be happy and satisfied at work if their attributes and personalities are consistent with the culture of that part of the organisation in which they are employed. Each worker need to find his own place in the firm which is most suitable for him.

I think that organisational culture is like a personality which goes beyond the formal structure. Culture gives an organisation its sense of identity, who we are, what we stand for etc. It is also sometimes an issue which holds an organisation together. It is really hard to define business into one of cultures categories because people working within organisation develop their own culture which can contains more than just one type.

Reference list:
Mullins, L. (2010) Management and Organisational Behaviour. 9th ed. England: Prentice Hall

1 comment:

  1. A good blog Magda, you might find it easier to discuss culture having included one of the theories for example Schein or French and Bell, this can enable you to create links about visible and invisible aspects of culture. Good work on Handy, well done.