Can culture be managed? What are the implications for the HR specialist?
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Organisations want to have an impact on organisational culture whether by strengthening it or by changing it (Witte and Muijen, 1999) however the management of organisational culture remains a contentious topic due to conflicting research. Some argue that organisational culture can be easily managed (Cameron and Quinn, 2006) whereas others argue that it is much more difficult (Ogbonna and Harris, 1998). An understanding of culture can offer insights into individual and group behaviour, and leadership (Clayton et al, 2005). If influenced correctly, culture can be a source of competitive advantage (Cameron and Quinn, 2006). Thus the general consensus is that culture can have a powerful effect on the performance and long-term effectiveness of an organisation and HR specialists have a crucial and challenging role in successfully devising strategic culture management approaches to make this happen.
Organisational culture is a complex phenomenon and according to Dennison (1990) culture refers to the:
“...underlying values, beliefs and principles that serve as a foundation for an organisation’s management system as well as the set of management practices and behaviours that both exemplify and reinforce those basic principles” (pg 2).
Schein (1985) as cited in Witte and Van Muijen (1999) also suggests the usefulness of viewing organisational culture from different levels, specifically artefacts and creations, values and basic assumptions.
Artefacts and creations are the most visible and observable level of culture which consists of visible and audible behaviour patterns and apparent manifestations of culture such as dress codes, use of technology and the physical layout of work spaces (Witte and Van Muijen, 1999). Artefacts and creations are usually visible indicators of culture because we can see what employees are doing (Witte and Van Muijen, 1999). Any...