To What Extent Can Organisational Culture Be Managed? Is It Critical to Organisational Success?

3486 Words Jun 12th, 2012 14 Pages
To what extent can organisational culture be managed? Is organisational culture critical to the success of an organisation?

Peter Anthony (1994) asserts that the pursuit of change in a cultural sense has been considered synonymous with the pursuit of excellence for organisations. It is true that a wide variety of management practitioners view the control of organisational culture as something both possible and necessary for organisational success (Brown 1993). A survey of organisational practices of a range of firms revealed that 94% of the firms had engaged in ‘culture management’ of some sort (IRS 1997). However, despite the apparent popularity of these practices and the strong level of importance placed upon these activities, it can
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A survey cited by Carr et al. (1996) recorded 10% of companies as being successful in altering culture, whilst the findings of Troy (1994) were more positive, with 32% of the 166 companies surveyed reporting that they were successful in changing the “vision and culture” of their organisation.

Though these results imply that in the right circumstances, culture can be managed, it once again fails to identify changes on all three levels of culture as defined by Schein (1985). This reveals that attempts to manipulate culture will be successful only on the more visible levels of culture (Critchley 1993). Graves (1986) furthers this point by arguing that though behavioural responses will change in response to environmental pressures, deep-rooted values will remain constant.

It can be seen that those who attempt to assert control over an organisational culture are under-appreciating the extent to which individual and organisational deep-seated values, assumptions and beliefs are engrained into human consciousness, and thus under-appreciate the difficulty in altering such values and beliefs (Gagliardi 1986, Crafting and Frost 1985).

Though it is evident that the surface manifestations of culture within organisations - that is, behaviours and actions - can be managed, the underlying beliefs and basic assumptions that are integral in the forming of a ‘culture’

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