Management Organizational Climate
Mark Ehrhart, Maribeth Kuenzi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 20 June 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0197


The study of organizational climate has had a long history that in many ways mirrors the development of the fields of organizational psychology and organizational behavior, and demonstrates the critical role of the environment in individual and organizational effectiveness. High levels of interest in organizational climate, largely coming from researchers in psychology, contributed to the initial rise and early progress in our understanding of the construct in the late 1960s through the 1970s. A variety of concerns related to the definition and measurement of climate, along with the rise in interest in climate’s sibling construct of organizational culture, resulted in waning interest through the 1980s and much of the 1990s. However, with increasing sophistication in and understanding of multilevel theory and measurement in the late 1990s through the 2000s came a rebirth of interest in climate, with a particular emphasis on focused climates (e.g., safety climate or service climate) that continues to this day. This bibliography provides an overview of research on organizational climate, including climate measurement, the most common types of climate that are found in the research literature, and the major research findings on organizational climate.

General Overviews

There are multiple sources available to gain an understanding of the topic of organizational climate. Because organizational climate and organizational culture are closely related in that both attempt to provide insight into the role of organizational environment for organizational effectiveness and employees’ experience of their work life, many of the sources compare, contrast, and integrate the literatures on these two topics. Three sources are full books on organizational climate and culture. Ehrhart, et al. 2014 is an authored book that includes an in-depth history of the organizational climate literature, in addition to an overview of current research on both climate and culture and recommendations for integrating the two. The authors also proposed an updated definition of organizational climate as “the shared meaning organizational members attach to the events, policies, practices, and procedures they experience and the behaviors they see being rewarded, supported, and expected” (p. 69). Ashkanasy, et al. 2011 and Schneider and Barbera 2014 are edited handbooks covering a variety of topics related to organizational climate and culture, revealing the breadth and depth of research in both areas. Three sources, Ostroff, et al. 2012; Zohar and Hofmann 2012; and Schneider, et al. 2013, are similar in providing a broad overview of both organizational climate and culture and proposing how the two literatures can be integrated. Along similar lines, Denison 1996 addresses the overlap and distinctions between the organizational climate and culture literatures from a culture researcher’s perspective, and Schneider, et al. 2017 summarizes the historical development of both climate and culture with a particular focus on publications in Journal of Applied Psychology. Finally, Kuenzi and Schminke 2009 provides an in-depth narrative review of the organizational climate literature, highlighting key themes in climate research and recommendations for advancing future research in the area.

  • Ashkanasy, N. M., C. P. M. Wilderom, and M. F. Peterson, eds. Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2011.

    Edited handbook with contributions from a variety of organizational climate and culture researchers addressing how these concepts have been studied in a variety of literatures and their theoretical, methodological, and cross-cultural implications.

  • Denison, D. R. “What Is the Difference between Organizational Culture and Organizational Climate? A Native’s Point of View on a Decade of Paradigm Wars.” Academy of Management Review 21 (1996): 619–654.

    Overview of the overlap between the concepts of organizational climate and organizational culture as well as their distinct attributes from an organizational culture researcher’s perspective.

  • Ehrhart, M. G., B. Schneider, and W. H. Macey. Organizational Climate and Culture: An Introduction to Theory, Research, and Practice. New York: Routledge, 2014.

    Authored book providing an in-depth review of both the topic of organizational climate and organizational culture, including the history and major research topics within each. Also includes an updated definition of organizational climate, a comparison of the research domains of organizational climate and culture, future research directions on the integration of the two, and how practitioners have utilized these two topics in their work.

  • Kuenzi, M., and M. Schminke. “Assembling Fragments into a Lens: A Review, Critique, and Proposed Research Agenda for the Organizational Work Climate Literature.” Journal of Management 35 (2009): 634–717.

    Narrative review of research on organizational and psychological climate in management, including an identification of major themes that emerged in that review and major future directions to advance knowledge on this topic.

  • Ostroff, C., A. J. Kinicki, and R. S. Muhammad. “Organizational Culture and Climate.” In Handbook of Psychology. Vol. 12, Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 2d ed. Edited by N. W. Schmitt and S. Highhouse, 643–676. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012.

    Handbook chapter providing a high-level review of both the organizational climate and culture literatures, as well as how the two are related to each other, how both emerge, and how both can be changed. Of particular note is their integrated model of organizational climate and culture.

  • Schneider, B., and K. M. Barbera, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Climate and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    Edited handbook summarizing the connection between the concepts of organizational climate and culture and a wide variety of organizational processes and outcomes, in addition to methodological and practical issues associated with these topics.

  • Schneider, B., M. G. Ehrhart, and W. H. Macey. “Organizational Climate and Culture.” Annual Review of Psychology 64 (2013): 361–388.

    Provides a brief overview of both organizational climate and organizational culture, proposes ways that the two approaches to understanding the organizational environment can be integrated, and highlights the implications of research on the two topics for practitioners.

  • Schneider, B., V. González-Romá, C. Ostroff, and M. A. West. “Organizational Climate and Culture: Reflections on the History of the Constructs in the Journal of Applied Psychology.” Journal of Applied Psychology 102 (2017): 468–482.

    Written for the centennial issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, reviews the historical development of organizational climate and culture with a particular focus on publications in that journal over time.

  • Zohar, D., and D. H. Hofmann. “Organizational Culture and Climate.” In The Oxford Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Edited by S. W. J. Kozlowski, 643–666. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    Handbook chapter providing an overview of the topics of both organizational climate and organizational culture including key observations of the development of both literatures and future research directions for both topics. The authors include a theoretical framework depicting how the layers of organizational culture contribute to shared perceptions of the organization’s climate.

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