Articles & Books for
Developing Your Corporate Culture
Developing Your Corporate Culture
J. B. (1986). “Organizational Culture: Can It Be a Source of Sustained
Competitive Advantage?” Academy of Management Review. Vol. 29, pp.
with sustained superior financial performance usually are characterized
by a strong set of core cultural values that define the way business is
conducted. There are 3 important attributes of culture. First, the
culture must be valuable. That is, it must do things and behave in ways
that lead to high sales, low costs, high margins, and other financially
valuable activities. Second, the culture must be rare. The attributes
and characteristics of the superior performance company will not be
found in the cultures of other firms. Third, the culture must be
imperfectly imitable. Overall, other firms cannot imitate the desired
culture. Firms without these attributes cannot expect their cultures to
be the source of sustained competitive advantages. Although efforts by
less superior firms to change their cultures may lead to new valuable
attributes, they will not generate sustained superior performance.
Beer, M. & Nohria, Ni.
(2000). "Cracking the Code of Change." Harvard
Business Review, May-June, pp 133-141.
Until now, change in business has been an
either-or proposition: either quickly create economic value for
shareholders or patiently develop an open, trusting corporate culture
long term. But now research indicates that combining these
"hard" and "soft" approaches can radically transform
the way businesses change.
Bierly, III, P. E. & Spender, J.
C. (1995). "Culture and High Reliability Organizations: The
Case of the Nuclear Submarine," Journal of Management, pp. 639-656.
(1984) defined as high risk those organizations that combine complexity
and tight coupling with the potential for catastrophic failure. He
concluded that accidents are normal for such organizations because their
managers face irreconcilable structural paradoxes. Centralization, the
method of dealing with the tight coupling, must be combined with
delegation, the method of dealing with the complexity. Weick (1987,
1989), researching the complex and tightly coupled systems found in air
traffic control and carrier flight-deck operations, saw these problems
differently. He argued that strong organizational cultures provide a
centralized and focused cognitive system within which delegated and
loosely coupled systems can function effectively. High-risk
organizations thereby become transformed into high reliability
organizations (HRO). Drawing on their personal experiences, the study
focuses on one type of HRO, the nuclear submarine. It argues for a
multi-level model in which culture interacts with and supports formal
structure and thereby produces high reliability.
Denison, D. R. & Mishra, A. (1995).
"Toward a Theory of Organizational Culture and
Organization Science, Vol. 6, pp. 203-223.
A model is developed of organizational
culture and effectiveness based on 4 traits of organizational cultures;
involvement, consistency, adaptability, and mission. These traits are
examined through 2 linked studies. In the first, qualitative case
studies of 5 firms are used to identify the traits and the nature of
their linkage to effectiveness. In the 2nd, a quantitative study
provides an exploratory analysis of CEO perceptions of these 4 traits
and their relation to subjective and objective measures of effectiveness
in a sample of 764 organizations. The results show support for the
predictive value of the traits, and help to illustrate the
complementarity of qualitative and quantitative methods for studying
organizational cultures. Two of the traits, involvement and
adaptability, are indicators of flexibility, openness, and
responsiveness, and were strong predictors of growth. The other 2
traits, consistency and mission, are indicators of integration,
direction, and vision, and were better predictors of profitability. Each
of the 4 traits was also a significant predictor of other effectiveness
criteria such as quality, employee satisfaction, and overall
Gordon, G. G. & DiTomaso, N.
(1992). "Predicting Corporate Performance from Organizational
Culture," Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 29 pp. 783-798.
study investigates the relationships of culture strength and 2
substantive cultural values with corporate performance. Culture strength
is measured by the consistency of responses to survey items across
people. Items on the survey that relate to either adaptability or
stability measure the 2 cultural values. The data, from management
surveys of 11 US insurance companies in 1981, were correlated with asset
and premium growth rates from 1982 to 1987. The results indicate that
both a strong culture regardless of content and a substantive value
placed on adaptability are associated with better performance for 2 or 3
subsequent years on both criterion measures. The results support the
findings of Denison (1990) that strength of culture is predictive of
short-term performance. The present results, however, suggest a more
complex contingency model than that proposed by Denison.
Sheriden, J. E. (1992). "Organizational
Culture and Employee Retention," Academy of
Management Journal, Vol. 35, pp.1036-56.
culture has emerged as one of the dominant themes in management research
during the past decade. An empirical study examined whether particular
cultural values help or hinder organizations in retaining their most
productive employees. The retention rates of 904 college graduates hired
in 6 public accounting firms over a 6-year period were analyzed. Three
firms were characterized as having a culture that emphasized the
interpersonal relationship values of team orientation and respect for
people. Two other companies were characterized as having a culture that
emphasized the work task values of detail and stability. Professionals
hired in the companies that emphasized the interpersonal relationship
values stayed 14 months longer (45 months) than those hired in the firms
emphasizing the work task values (31 months). This large difference in
voluntary survival rates has important consequences for organizational
Siehl, C. & Martin, J.
"Organizational Culture: A Key to Financial
Performance?" in B. Schneider, ed., Organizational Climate
and Culture (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990) pp. 241-81.
how examining climate and culture together can advance understanding of
the behavior of individuals within organizations, as well as overall
organizational performance in such areas as financial planning,
marketing, human resource development, and others.
Weick, K. & Roberts, K.
(1993). "Collective Mind in Organizations: Heedful
Interrelating on Flight Decks," Administrative Science Quarterly,
Vol. 38, 357-81.
In a study, the concept of collective
mind is developed to explain organizational performance in situations
requiring nearly continuous operational reliability. Collective mind is
conceptualized as a pattern of heedful interrelations of actions in a
social system. Actors in the system construct their actions
(contributions), understanding that the system consists of connected
actions by themselves and others (representation), and interrelate their
actions within the system (subordination). Ongoing variation in the heed
with which individual contributions, representations, and subordinations
are interrelated influences comprehension of unfolding events and the
incidence of errors. As heedful interrelating and mindful comprehension
increase, organizational errors decrease. Flight operations on aircraft
carriers exemplify the constructs of the concept, from which
implications for organizational theory and practice can be drawn.
Wilkins, A. L. & Ouchi, W. G.
Cultures: Exploring the
Relationship between Culture and Organizational Performance,"
Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 28, 468-81.
organizations are subject to social fragmentation that prevents them
from developing distinct local organizational cultures characterized by
shared social knowledge. The theory of transaction costs is used to
examine the conditions under which local organizational cultures emerge
and the conditions under which they are efficient. Local organizational
cultures emerge when organizations have a long history and stable
membership, when there are no institutional alternatives to local
culture, and when organizational members interact throughout the
organization. Organizations having local cultures will be efficient when
members develop a shared knowledge about collective needs and
perceptions of goal congruence among all organizational members.
For Developing Your Corporate Culture
L. G. & Deal, T. E. 2003.
Artistry, Choice, and Leadership
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
In this third
edition of their best-selling classic, authors Lee Bolman and Terrence
Deal explain the powerful tool of "reframing." The authors have distilled
the organizational literature into a comprehensive approach for looking at
situations from more than one angle. Their four frames view organizations
as factories, families, jungles, and theaters or temples:
how to organize and structure groups and teams to get results
Human Resource Frame:
how to tailor organizations to satisfy human needs, improve human
resource management, and build positive interpersonal and group dynamics
how to cope with power and conflict, build coalitions, hone political
skills, and deal with internal and external politics
how to shape a culture that gives purpose and meaning to work, stage
organizational drama for internal and external audiences, and build team
spirit through ritual, ceremony, and story
Denison, D. R. (1990). Corporate
Culture and Organizational Effectiveness. (New York: John Wiley
Reveals the complex, interdependent
relationship between an organization's corporate culture and its
financial effectiveness, through analysis based on interviews, financial
data, and case studies of corporations, including Medtronic, People
Express Airlines, and Detroit Edison. Unlike most other
organizational theory books, it uses hard data and in-depth case
research, as well as anecdotal material, to support the culture and
effectiveness model.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
Gittell, J. H. (2002).
The Southwest Airlines Way:
Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance.
New York: McGraw-Hill (320 pages).
This book explains how corporate culture
develops and how it determines the quality of the corporation's output. It
also describes methods for testing and assessing corporate culture and
discusses strategies for making changes in the work environment that will
bring about increased productivity.
Kotter, J. P. & Heskett, J.
L. (Contributor). (1992). Corporate Culture and Performance. (New
York: The Free Press).
Draws from research at such firms as
Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, ICI, and Nissan to show how the culture--shared
beliefs, attitudes, and practices--of a company can influence its
performance for better or worse.
O’Reilly, C. A. & Pfeffer,
J. (2000). Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary
Results with Ordinary People. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School
Press (272 pages).
From Publishers Weekly
In today's heated job market, companies must
look within to develop and nurture talented employees, say O'Reilly and
Pfeffer, both professors at Stanford Business School. They offer a
detailed look at several companies -- among
them, Cisco, Men's Warehouse and PSS World Medical--
that are profitable in competitive industries and that have
successfully retained and promoted their staffs. Following a brief company
history, the authors present a straightforward discussion of each
company's culture and policies, in some cases including quotations from
its executives. Occasionally, the secrets of a company's success are
obvious: Southwest Airlines has carefully chosen a niche market; it puts
high value on customer service and its employees feel as if their daily
work will contribute to the future of the company. Certainly, CEO Herb
Kelleher is part of the winning formula, but Southwest's business is run
differently than other airlines. Its employees can work at different jobs
and financial data about the company's performance as well as its
competitors is shared regularly with staffers. Similarly, PSS Medical
values its employees and works very hard at both recruiting and training
people who will fit in at the company. With its emphasis on detailed
anecdotes, this unusually engaging management book proves that
concentrating on "soft issues" like employee values can give a company the
J. (1998). The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First.
Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press (272 pages).
persuasively that organizations typically fail to consider their culture
and capabilities, particularly when planning for change. He addresses a
number of people issues, such as downsizing, hiring practices,
compensation approaches, and alignment of management practice with stated
values. Although the author favors a fundamental approach, he shores it up
with anecdotal information, logic, and wit, noting, for example, that
downsizing does not eliminate costs but could be radically
counterproductive (i.e., no expenses, no enterprise). Further, he gives
examples of organizations that, while decidedly low-tech, manage to
produce profits often associated with high-tech enterprises. Pfeffer
further points out how a number of organizations in typically low-margin
sectors outperform their competitors through an alignment of values.
Indeed, Pfeffer's examples emphasize doing the right thing the right way.
This book should be required reading for those planning organizational
Rosen, C. & Carberry, E. (2002).
Building a Culture of Lasting Innovation.
Oakland, CA: National Center for Employee Ownership (266 pages).
More than ever before, a company's most
important asset is its people. The ideas and information employees can
contribute every day distinguish innovative, dynamic, and successful
businesses from their more plodding peers. To encourage employees to get
more involved, more and more companies ask employees to "think and act
like owners," even if they don't share actual ownership. Others do share
ownership but still treat people as "just employees." However, research
and experience show it is the combination of involvement and ownership
that really creates winners. It's not an easy task, however; ownership
management requires constant attention every day. This book draws on the
National Center for Employee Ownership's over 20 years of experience in
this field, and, more importantly, the experience of the leading employee
ownership companies. It provides concrete, specific ideas on how to
structure plans, share information, get employees involved in decisions,
and even have fun.
E. H. 2004.
and Leadership (3rd
Francisco: Jossey-Bass (560 pages). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (464 pages).
In this third edition of
his classic book, Edgar Schein shows how to transform the abstract concept
of culture into a practical tool that managers and students can use to
understand the dynamics of organizations and change. Organizational
pioneer Schein updates his influential understanding of culture--what it
is, how it is created, how it evolves, and how it can be changed. Focusing
on today's business realities, Schein draws on a wide range of
contemporary research to redefine culture, offers new information on the
topic of occupational cultures, and demonstrates the crucial role leaders
play in successfully applying the principles of culture to achieve
organizational goals. He also tackles the complex question of how an
existing culture can be changed--one of the toughest challenges of
leadership. The result is a vital resource for understanding and
practicing organizational effectiveness.