Organizational Communication

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last updated 9/28/2011

Organizational Culture:Variation and Outcomes

Organizational Cultures may Vary in Basic Assumptions
Organizational Cultures vary in numerous ways and always change.
  Sub-cultures often exist.

  • Schein's Types of "Basic Assumptions" that are held inorganizations.  Variations in these can account for cultural differences.
    • Humans relationships to nature
    • The nature of reality and truth
    • The fundamental elements of human nature
    • The ideal types of human action
    • The appropriate forms for human relationships

  Some Dimensions of Organizational Cultural Variation

  1. Type of action - action vs activity
  2. Degree of individualism - autonomy vs team player
  3. Mode of decision-making - risk-taking vs risk aversion 
    speed of evaluation is a factor in this)
  4. Kind of feedback
      • regularity - often or seldom
      • performance based or compliance based
      • level of ambiguity
  5. overall, what actions / outcomes do 1-4 above seem to value?

 The Outcomes of Organizational CultureA "strong" organizational culture provides members with:

    1. Sense-making - shared context and meanings --> coherence

    2. Accepted patterns of behavior and communication (allowing coordination)

    3. Organizational values (that can guide and control behavior and goals)

    4. Decision-making guidelines (that promotes shared control and coordination)

  Conclusions about Organizational Culture (McGaan's)

    1. Culture grows out of interaction; thus, actions and procedural change alter culture (i.e. "actions are messages")

    2. Leaders are symbols (or can be) -- ("Heroes" in Deal and Kennedy's terms)

      1. but what's good for the individual (leader) may not good for the organization - which has a life of its own

      2. The goals and values of the organization. (which grow out of interaction) belong to no one person

    3. Formal communication is of relatively low importance in building culture - directly

    4. Ordinary interactions and informal communication (and esp. training) is very important in building/transmitting culture

    5. A key goal of management is building a strong culture - i.e. a culture that supports actions and values that are effective in getting people to meet organization goals and personal needs.

  CULTURE AND HUMAN NEEDS * Good organizational culture supports:

      1. The need for clarity/security/predictability

      2. [To some degree the need, therefore, for control over one's circumstances]
      3. The need to belong to something [identification]

      4. [To some degree the social/affiliation needs]
      5. The need for positive recognition, being valued 
        [to some degree esteem needs ]

There's trouble when organizational culture doesn't meet these human needs; thus, these needs set limits on organizational culture.