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Culture Notes

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Culture 'Can culture be managed?' Ackroyd & Crowdy 1990 Normative HRM definition 'HR policies should be integrated with strategic business planning and used to reinforce an appropriate (or used to change an inappropriate) organisational culture' Research suggests 'that work cultures are highly distinctive, resilient and resistant to change' ''managing culture' is only possible if it is regarded as something an organisation has''
 'if, on the other hand, an organisational culture is what an organisation 'is', that is, the common values and beliefs which have emerged from people's shared experiences, then it is much less obvious that organisational cultures are amenable to control' 'distinctive patterns and connections may render the cultures of many occupations effectively beyond managerial capacity to influence, let alone to control' Occupational culture (that of a work group) 'can involve the incorporation of latent elements, which are not only unrecognised by management, but would be highly resistant to change in the short run' 'precisely because much of this is not seen, the obligatory nature of culture can be easily overlooked' 'dominant values of society at large are implicated in what appears to be the spontaneous formation and character of occupational cultures' 'work behaviour, and even the basic conception that workers have of themselves, is shaped by factors external to the workplace as deeply as by those internal to it' Slaughterman culture 'owes more to external social values than to any management facilitation' 'the trap is that unless and until workplace cultures are more adequately understood, HRM will merely foster the illusion of managerial control' 'Organisational Culture' Brown 1995 'national cultural differences may help shape organisational design and behaviour at a local level' 'organisational culture is the territory of the HR manager' 'the culture of an organisation refers to the unique configuration of norms, values, beliefs, ways of behaving and so on that characterise the manner in which groups and individuals combine to get things done' (Eldridge & Crombie 1974) 'distinction to be made between those who think of culture as a metaphor, and those who see culture as an objective entity'
 Metaphor (e.g. Morgan) 'according to this position, culture is not an objective, tangible or measurable aspect of an organisation, but an intellectual device which helps us comprehend organisations in terms of a specific vocabulary' Elements of organisational culture:
 Artefacts


'physical and socially constructed environment of an organisation'


'most visible and most superficial manifestations of an organisation's culture'


E.g. : o Logos + mission statements o Language and symbols o Behaviour patterns, rules and procedures


'values are intimately connected with moral and ethical codes, and determine what people think ought to be done'


'beliefs, on the other hand, concern what people think is and is not true'


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'some organisations assume that they are able to dominate their environment..others, however, assume that they are dominated by their environment'
 'difference between an organisations espoused culture and culture-in-practice can be dramatic'
 'organisational cultures are highly complex phenomena' 'The cultures of work organisations' Trice & Beyer 1993 Characteristics of cultures:
 Collective 'cultures cannot be produced by individuals acting alone'
 Emotionally charged
 Historically based
 Inherently symbolic
 Dynamic 'cultures continually change'
 Inherently fuzzy Consequences of cultures:
 Management of collective uncertainties
 Creation of social order
 Creation of continuity
 Creation of collective identity and commitment
 Encouragement of ethnocentrism
 Generation of dual consequences 'most analysts agree that various characteristics of cultures internally generate some amount of spontaneous change on a pretty continuous basis' Some argue that 'because cultures emerge spontaneously from informal interactions, any change must also emerge spontaneously' Some argue that 'cultures be deliberately changed, but only a little, or only with great difficulty' 'cultures are too elusive and hidden to be accurately diagnosed, managed or changed' 'many subcultures in most organisations act against coordinated change' 'cultures are undoubtedly resistant to change - especially changes that do not emerge from within the culture group' Cultures DO change e.g. Martin Luther King 'If they were too malleable, cultures would not provide the continuity and certainty that people come to depend on' 3 factors affecting cultural persistence
 Fluidity of current ideologies
 Members' commitment to them
 Availability of alternative ideologies Ideologies 'shared, relatively coherently interrelated sets of emotionally charged beliefs, values and norms that bind some people together' 'ideologies explain and justify existing social systems in ways that make them seem natural, logically compelling and morally acceptable' 'single cultures have multiplicities of ideologies' 'if one ideology isn't applicable or doesn't work, the group has other possibilities it can call upon' 'people are an important resource and they do not enter organisations without having some cultural conditioning elsewhere' Extraorganisational sources of ideologies:
 Transnational cultures


Ideologies of science, capitalism + Protestantism
 National cultures:


'Substantial differences exist among national value systems'
 Regional and community cultures

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