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Management Organization Culture
Mary Ann Glynn, Simona Giorgi, Christi Lockwood
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 March 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 January 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0059


The concept of organizational culture was introduced to the field of management and organization studies in the late 1970s, and it began to attract significant scholarly attention in the early to mid-1980s. Building on insights from sociology and anthropology, organizational scholars argued that organizations could possess distinct cultures, or sets of shared values, beliefs, and norms that guide the attitudes and actions of organizational members. Researchers suggested that organizational culture could significantly affect organizational outcomes, reasoning that culture could be used as a resource to affect employee actions, distinguish firms from one another, and create competitive advantage for those with superior cultures. As such, understanding organizational culture has traditionally been seen as an avenue for equipping business leaders with the tools needed to enable effective performance through the creation and management of an appropriate culture. Although early studies of organizational culture generally portrayed it as consistent among employees, across levels and between departments, subsequent work spoke to the possibility of heterogeneous manifestations of culture within a single organization, suggesting that the creation and maintenance of a desired organizational culture may be more complex and nuanced than initially understood. As such, theoretical paradigms and research methods used for inquiry in this area have been diverse. For example, while some scholars have studied culture from a functionalist standpoint, focusing on normative forces promoting homogeneity and uniformity, others have approached it from an interpretive paradigm, emphasizing the meanings that social actions have for individuals in organizations. Methodologically, studies have employed both qualitative and quantitative methods, each of which has yielded unique insights on some aspects of culture. As a result, researchers in management and organization have taken a range of approaches to understanding organizational culture, from exploring the forces that may create and change culture, to studying it as a driver of performance and effectiveness, to linking it with identity and employee personality. The readings here reflect this diversity in theoretical and methodological approaches and are organized as follows. The first sections provide an introduction to organizational culture, including introductory works, early contributions, overviews, and textbooks. Next, major paradigmatic approaches are reviewed, and the roles of culture in organizational life, as independent variable, dependent variable, and moderator, are discussed. Then, methodological approaches are reviewed, investigating culture and related concepts. Finally, disciplinary influences and emerging approaches are discussed.

Introductory Works

Andrew Pettigrew is widely credited with introducing the concept of organizational culture to the field with his 1979 article “On Studying Organizational Cultures.” Pettigrew 1979 offered insights on concepts and processes associated with organizational culture, which he equated with the birth of organizations; he described culture as an amalgam of beliefs, identity, ritual, and myth—a conceptualization still widely used today. The following year, Hofstede 2001 raised questions around the applicability of American management theory abroad and studied those cultural differences that interface with and influence organizational cultural characteristics. Deal and Kennedy 1982 studied culture as the manner in which things “get done” in an organization, offering a model of culture based on four organizational prototypes. Subsequently, Schein 1985, a foundational volume, discusses an organization’s culture as the basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared consistently across members of an organization and define taken-for-granted views of the organization and its environment. Importantly, Schein stressed the role of the leader as the creator and maintainer of culture within organizations. Schein 1990 offered a more concise, peer-reviewed version of the arguments put forth in Schein 1985. Organizational culture scholars have long recognized divergences between functionalist and interpretive approaches to research in this area. Smircich 1983 offered an introduction to modes of analysis of culture; Smircich positioned the development of the concept of organizational culture at the intersection of functionalist work in anthropology and research in organization theory and predicted the emergence of a range of scholarly perspectives. Martin 1992 offered one such perspective as she examined organizational culture from an interpretive paradigm; Martin highlighted three prototypes of cultures that may exist in organizations, thereby contrasting the functionalist approach of Schein 1985. Schultz and Hatch 1996 also shed light on paradigmatic disagreement in the study of culture in organizations as they proposed a multiparadigm approach to research to promote interplay between the functionalist and interpretive paradigms. The above conceptualizations of and approaches to understanding culture continue to underpin and influence contemporary research on culture as well as practical attempts to manage culture in organizations.

  • Deal, Terrence E., and Alan A. Kennedy. Corporate Cultures. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1982.

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    Describes organizational culture using four prototypes: work-hard, play-hard culture; tough-guy macho culture; process culture; and bet-the-company culture.

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  • Hofstede, Geert. Culture’s Consequences. 2d ed. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE, 2001.

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    An international perspective on organizations that questions the universality of American management theory and suggests four dimensions of culture that vary based on nationality and that affect organizational culture and employees. First edition published in 1980.

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  • Martin, Joanne. Cultures in Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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    An introduction to organizational culture from the interpretive paradigm that uses three case studies of the same organization to illustrate the plurality of understandings and experiences of culture. Suggests that organizational culture may be integrated, fragmented, or differentiated.

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  • Pettigrew, Andrew M. “On Studying Organizational Cultures.” Administrative Science Quarterly 24.4 (1979): 570–581.

    DOI: 10.2307/2392363Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Widely agreed to be the field’s first publication regarding organizational culture. Characterizes culture as publicly and widely accepted meaning systems, and positions the creation of culture as the birth of an organization.

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  • Schein, Edgar H. Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1985.

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    A book for use by both academics and practitioners that defines organizational culture from a functionalist point of view and focuses on the role of the leader in creating, changing and enacting organizational culture. Provides one of the most widely cited and used conceptions of culture available in the field today.

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  • Schein, Edgar H. “Organizational Culture.” American Psychologist 45.2 (1990): 109–119.

    DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.45.2.109Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A more concise work than Schein 1985 that offers Schein’s highly influential definition of culture, provides a brief history of the study of culture in organizations, and presents case materials to illustrate how to analyze culture and how to think about culture change.

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  • Schultz, Majken, and Mary Jo Hatch. “Living with Multiple Paradigms: The Case of Paradigm Interplay in Organizational Culture Studies.” Academy of Management Review 21.2 (1996): 529–557.

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    Presents a new strategy for multiparadigm research that promotes interplay between functionalist and interpretive paradigms.

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  • Smircich, Linda. “Concepts of Culture and Organizational Analysis.” Administrative Science Quarterly 28.3 (1983): 339–358.

    DOI: 10.2307/2392246Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines the significance of the concept of culture for organizational analysis and demonstrates that the concept of culture can take organization analysis in several different and promising directions.

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General Overviews

Organizational culture scholars have developed a range of perspectives of and commentaries on the topic, some focused on an academic audience, others geared toward practitioners. Typically, such overviews have gone beyond abstractly defining organizational culture to emphasize the application of concepts in practical business contexts and offer suggestions for further academic inquiry. An influential book, Trice and Beyer 1993, spoke to academic audiences as it drew from a range of organizational case studies as well as work in related fields, including sociology, anthropology, communication, and more, to formulate a point of view on organizational culture in alignment with prevalent theories of organizations. Schultz 1995 is useful for both students and practitioners; it focuses on combining empirical analysis with theoretical modeling of cultures in organizations, drawn from both the functionalist and the symbolic-interpretive perspectives. Denison 1990 and Cameron and Quinn 2011 are practitioner-oriented books that offer tools for assessing organizations’ work environments and discuss strategies for restructuring work systems and changing culture to improve productivity and performance.

Textbooks and Edited Volumes

As the concept of organizational culture gained popularity and legitimacy in the field of management, a number of textbooks and edited volumes emerged. Frost, et al. 1985 was one of the earliest collections of work in this area; the same authors followed up with another volume on culture, Frost, et al. 1991. Both volumes focus on the process of discovering organizational culture and offer a variety of frames to enable readers to explore and understand the topic. Reflecting a resurgence of interest in the topic, the early 2000s brought a number of additional books and volumes on culture in organizations. Alvesson 2002 offers a synthesis of advances in the study of organizational culture; similarly, Martin 2002 reflects on the lack of theoretical and methodological conformity in organizational cultural studies as the author delineates and bridges divergent approaches to studying culture.

  • Alvesson, Matts. Understanding Organizational Culture. London: SAGE, 2002.

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    Offers Alvesson’s synthesis of prevailing approaches to studying organizational culture and its relation to other topics, including leadership and change.

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  • Frost, Peter J., Larry F. Moore, Meryl Reis Louis, Craig C. Lundberg, and Joanne Martin, eds. Organizational Culture. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE, 1985.

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    This pioneering volume connects culture inside and outside organizations and highlights methodologies useful in understanding organizational symbols, rituals, language, and distribution of power in the context of organizational culture.

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  • Frost, Peter J., Larry F. Moore, Meryl Reis Louis, Craig C. Lundberg, and Joanne Martin, eds. Reframing Organizational Culture. London: SAGE, 1991.

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    By placing the emphasis on process and epistemology, rather than on methodology, this volume offers new frames for considering and understanding organizational culture.

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  • Martin, Joanne. Organizational Culture: Mapping the Terrain. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2002.

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    This book offers reflections on a variety of theoretical orientations, political ideologies, methods for studying, and styles of writing about organizational culture.

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Generally speaking, researchers have adopted two primary paradigmatic approaches to conceptualizing and understanding organizational culture: a Functionalist approach and an Interpretive approach. Each paradigmatic approach has generated distinct and useful insights on culture in organizations, as detailed below.


A number of scholars of organizational culture have adopted a functionalist approach to studying and understanding cultural phenomena. Generally speaking, a functionalist approach focuses on the development and maintenance of solidarity and consistency among members of an organization and its impact on organizational outcomes. Functionalist analyses typically examine culture at the macro (organizational) level, focusing on broad social factors in the organization that shape employees as a whole. Notably, perhaps the most prevalent and influential functionalist researcher of organizational culture has been Edgar Schein. Schein 1999 is a practitioner-oriented book that employs an applied functionalist approach to culture, offering managers suggestions for understanding, evaluating, and improving culture within businesses. Although the functionalist approach has been employed in different ways within the study of organizational culture, one key application of this paradigm can be found in the analysis of congruence between organizational and individual values. Wiener 1988 offers an introduction to organizational research at the intersection of culture and value systems, suggests methods for measurement, and examines the emergence, change, and maintenance of culture. Meglino, et al. 1989 provides empirical support for theory around work value congruence. The prevalence of the functionalist approach also prompted extensive research on Personality.

  • Meglino, Bruce M., Elizabeth C. Ravlin, and Cheryl L. Adkins. “A Work Values Approach to Corporate Culture: A Field Test of the Value Congruence Process and Its Relationship to Individual Outcomes.” Journal of Applied Psychology 74.3 (1989): 424–432.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.74.3.424Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Tested the hypothesis that positive outcomes result when peoples’ values are congruent with those of others, finding that workers were more satisfied and committed when their values were congruent with the values of their supervisor.

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  • Schein, Edgar H. The Corporate Culture Survival Guide: Sense and Nonsense about Culture Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.

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    An example of Schein’s functionalist approach, this practitioner-focused book defines organizational culture and offers leaders suggestions for managing and changing culture.

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  • Wiener, Yoash. “Forms of Value Systems: Focus on Organizational Effectiveness and Cultural Change and Maintenance.” Academy of Management Review 13.4 (1988): 534–545.

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    Proposes that the study of organizational culture focus on shared values; proposes a typology of value systems for the analysis of the emergence, change, and maintenance of culture.

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Alongside scholars taking a Functionalist approach to the study of organizational culture are those who take an interpretive approach, which is also widely used. Interpretive researchers typically employ methods of investigation they consider most appropriate for the social world, focusing on understanding the meanings that social actions have for the people being studied. Interpretive frameworks and methods have long been used and advocated for, not only among culture scholars but also in other related fields. Published in the field of sociology, Griswold 1994 offers an example of the broader interpretive approach to the study of culture, introducing the author’s well-known cultural diamond framework for the analysis of culture. Hatch 1993 advocated for a more interpretive approach to the study of culture in organizations; the author built from Schein’s model of culture (see Schein 1985, cited under Introductory Works) to integrate interpretive perspectives into a more traditional, functionalist understanding of culture. Interpretive scholars have also suggested a focus on meaning making to facilitate understanding of culture. Barley 1983 proposes the use of semiotics, or the study of signs and sign processes, to uncover the roles by which employees create meaning at work, and Harris 1994 argues for a focus on individual schemas and sense making to understand culture in organizations.

Role in Organizational Life

Culture’s role in organizational life has been studied from a number of angles; researchers have examined culture As an Independent Variable, particularly as a driver of Organizational Performance, As a Dependent Variable, and As a Moderator.

As an Independent Variable

Research on organizational culture has often positioned culture as an independent variable, or the driver of some organizational or individual outcome. The majority of research on culture as an independent variable has explored its impact on performance; a number of articles with this focus are highlighted in a dedicated subsection in this entry. Research on culture as an independent variable has focused on other outcomes, as well. For example, Sheridan 1992 shows that organizational culture affected employee retention rates and job performance. More recently, Detert, et al. 2000 offers a framework for more effectively linking culture and the implementation of new behaviors in organizations.

  • Detert, James R., Roger G. Schroeder, and John J. Mauriel. “A Framework for Linking Culture and Improvement Initiatives in Organizations.” Academy of Management Review 25.4 (2000): 850–863.

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    Argues that the relationship between culture and implementation of new behaviors and practices has not been adequately explored; proposes a comprehensive framework for defining and measuring organizational cultures in an effort to use culture as an explanatory concept in organizational research.

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  • Sheridan, John E. “Organizational Culture and Employee Retention.” Academy of Management Journal 35.5 (1992): 1036–1056.

    DOI: 10.2307/256539Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Explores the link between organizational culture and employee retention; finds that variation in cultural values affected rates at which employees voluntarily terminated employment, affected job performance, and influenced retention.

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Organizational Performance

The most common examination of culture as an independent variable has focused on the effects of culture on organizational performance, an area of great interest for scholars and practitioners alike. Interestingly, although much research has been dedicated to exploring the link between culture and organizational performance, little empirical evidence exists to discretely link the two. Instead, the bulk of publications offer theoretical insights on the relationship between culture and performance. Alan Wilkins and William Ouchi (Wilkins and Ouchi 1983) were among the first organizational culture scholars to address the link between culture and performance; they suggested that when organizations develop a distinct local culture, performance efficiencies may be realized. Barney 1986, a highly influential article, proposes that a firm’s culture can be a source of sustained competitive advantage if valuable, rare, and imperfectly imitable. Subsequent work refined and extended these initial ideas. Saffold 1988 proposes a new, more nuanced model for empirical research relating culture, and performance, and Marcoulides and Heck 1993 proposes another model that integrates broader cultural influences. Arogyaswamy and Byles 1987 argues that culture’s fit with both internal and external forces influences its impact on organizational performance. Most recently, Denison and Mishra 1995 identifies key traits of organizational culture that may link it with performance.

  • Arogyaswamy, Bernard, and Charles M. Byles. “Organizational Culture: Internal and External Fits.” Journal of Management 13.4 (1987): 647.

    DOI: 10.1177/014920638701300406Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Argues that organizational culture and performance are linked, but that internal fit (cohesion and consistency) and external fit (alignment with strategy and the environment) influence the degree to which culture affects performance in a given organization.

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  • Barney, Jay B. “Organizational Culture: Can It Be a Source of Sustained Competitive Advantage?” Academy of Management Review 11.3 (1986): 656–665.

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    Suggests that a firm’s culture must have three attributes to generate sustained competitive advantages: it must be valuable, rare, and imperfectly imitable.

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  • Denison, Daniel R., and Aneil K. Mishra. “Toward a Theory of Organizational Culture and Effectiveness.” Organization Science 6.2 (1995): 204–223.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.6.2.204Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Develops a model of organizational culture and effectiveness based on four traits of cultures: involvement, consistency, adaptability, and mission. Suggests that culture can be studied as an integral part of the adaptation process of organizations and that specific culture traits may be useful predictors of performance and effectiveness.

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  • Marcoulides, George A., and Ronald H. Heck. “Organizational Culture and Performance: Proposing and Testing a Model.” Organization Science 4.2 (1993): 209–225.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.4.2.209Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Proposes and tests a model concerning how an organization’s culture affects organizational performance; suggests that outcomes depend on a sociocultural system of the perceived functioning of the organization’s strategies and practices, an organizational value system, and the collective beliefs of the individuals working within the organization.

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  • Saffold, Guy S., III. “Culture Traits, Strength, and Organizational Performance: Moving Beyond ‘Strong’ Culture.” Academy of Management Review 13.4 (1988): 546–558.

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    Suggests that if scholars are to accurately analyze culture-performance links, they must combine more appropriate measures of culture’s impact with careful attention to intrinsically cultural performance-related organizational processes.

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  • Wilkins, Alan L., and William G. Ouchi. “Efficient Cultures: Exploring the Relationship between Culture and Organizational Performance.” Administrative Science Quarterly 28.3 (1983): 468–481.

    DOI: 10.2307/2392253Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Focuses on the existence of local organizational cultures, the particular properties thereof, and accompanying conditions that enable efficient performance.

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As a Dependent Variable

Research has also examined organizational culture as a dependent variable, or the outcome of independent variables. Scholars have tended to focus on the factors that contribute to culture formation and culture change in organizations, exploring a number of independent variables that affect culture. In early work, Jones 1983 analyzes how culture may emerge in organizations from the institutional arrangements developed to regulate the exchanges or transactions between members of a social group. Other work explores the relationship between industry characteristics and culture. For instance, Gordon 1991 argues that the characteristics of the industry in which the organization operates help to determine organizational culture; Chatman and Jehn 1994 focuses on two industry characteristics, technology and growth, in relation to culture. Additional work explores the impact of internal organizational forces. Cable, et al. 2000 studies the influence of messages communicated to job applicants about the organizational culture, and Trice and Beyer 1991 focuses on how leaders act to maintain culture and discusses characteristics of cultural leaders in organizations. Wilkins and Dyer 1988 highlights factors that may influence the persistence of culture and may affect culture change.

  • Cable, Daniel M., Linda Aiman-Smith, Paul W. Mulvey, and Jeffrey R. Edwards. “The Sources and Accuracy of Job Applicants’ Beliefs about Organizational Culture.” Academy of Management Journal 43.6 (2000): 1076–1085.

    DOI: 10.2307/1556336Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Focuses on the beliefs that applicants develop about an organization’s culture during the anticipatory stage of socialization; suggests that organizations encourage applicants to hold favorable, rather than accurate, culture beliefs.

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  • Chatman, Jennifer A., and Karen A. Jehn. “Assessing the Relationship between Industry Characteristics and Organizational Culture: How Different Can You Be?” Academy of Management Journal 37.3 (1994): 522–553.

    DOI: 10.2307/256699Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Investigates the relationship between industry characteristics and organizational culture and suggests that cultural values are associated with levels of industry technology and growth.

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  • Gordon, George G. “Industry Determinants of Organizational Culture.” Academy of Management Review 16.2 (1991): 396–415.

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    Argues that organizational culture is strongly influenced by the characteristics of the industry in which the company operates; therefore, companies within an industry share certain cultural elements that are required for survival.

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  • Jones, Gareth R. “Transaction Costs, Property Rights, and Organizational Culture: An Exchange Perspective.” Administrative Science Quarterly 28.3 (1983): 454–467.

    DOI: 10.2307/2392252Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Builds from exchange theory to suggest that culture is manifested in the nature of transaction patterns between team members and in the norms and values used by members to orient themselves to others and the organization.

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  • Trice, Harrison M., and Janice M. Beyer. “Cultural Leadership in Organizations.” Organization Science 2.2 (1991): 149–169.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.2.2.149Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Focuses on cultural leadership and outlines some identifiable general characteristics; discusses implications of having multiple cultural leaders in organizations at the same time.

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  • Wilkins, Alan L., and W. Gibb Dyer Jr. “Toward Culturally Sensitive Theories of Culture Change.” Academy of Management Review 13.4 (1988): 522–533.

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    Suggests that different cultures may change through different processes; discusses factors that influence persistence of culture and affect organizational change.

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As a Moderator

Although most research has focused on organizational culture as an independent or a dependent variable, some scholars have examined the role of culture as a moderator, a variable that affects the direction or strength of the relationship between the independent and dependent variables in a given model. Culture’s moderating effect has been explored in a variety of contexts. For example, Zammuto and O’Connor 1992 examines how culture affected the levels of organizational success achieved through adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies, and De Long and Fahey 2000 explores how culture might influence behaviors related to knowledge management. Other work has focused on leaders, subordinates, and culture. For example, Schaubroeck and Lam 2002 looks at how a range of cultures might produce different advancement results driven by personality congruence between managers and subordinates, and Erdogan, et al. 2006 explores how the culture of an organization affects justice perceptions and leader-member exchange.

  • De Long, David W., and Liam Fahey. “Diagnosing Cultural Barriers to Knowledge Management.” Academy of Management Executive 14.4 (2000): 113–127.

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    Identifies four ways in which culture influences the behaviors central to knowledge creation, sharing, and use; suggests specific actions managers can take to assess the different aspects of culture most likely to influence knowledge-related behaviors.

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  • Erdogan, Berrin, Robert C. Liden, and Maria L. Kraimer. “Justice and Leader-Member Exchange: The Moderating Role of Organizational Culture.” Academy of Management Journal 49.2 (2006): 395–406.

    DOI: 10.5465/AMJ.2006.20786086Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Establishes that organizational culture moderates the relationship between justice perceptions and leader-member exchange (LMX); identifies and discusses certain aspects of culture that strengthen or weaken the relationship.

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  • Schaubroeck, John, and Simon S. K. Lam. “How Similarity to Peers and Supervisor Influences Organizational Advancement in Different Cultures.” Academy of Management Journal 45.6 (2002): 1120–1136.

    DOI: 10.2307/3069428Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Finds that, depending on unit culture, personality similarity to peers or to supervisor more strongly predicted organizational advancement.

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  • Zammuto, Raymond F., and Edward J. O’Connor. “Gaining Advanced Manufacturing Technologies’ Benefits: The Roles of Organization Design and Culture.” Academy of Management Review 17.4 (1992): 701–728.

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    Examines the roles that organization design and culture play in the varying levels of success experienced by organizations that have adopted advanced manufacturing technologies; suggests relationships among the three based on the Competing Values model of organizational culture.

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Congruent with much of the field of organization and management, empirical studies of organizational culture employ a range of methods and analytical approaches. Research studies typically employ either Quantitative methods, like linear modeling, or Qualitative methods, like textual analysis or interviewing.


Quantitative approaches to researching culture rely on a range of mathematical methods for collecting and analyzing data, from surveys and counts to computer modeling and regression analysis. Since the forms of quantitative analysis are varied and adaptable, they have lent themselves to understanding a range of aspects of culture. Carroll and Harrison 1998 employs a mathematical model and computer simulation to suggest that heterogeneity in tenure usually led to heterogeneity in culture. Frank and Fahrbach 1999 also used simulations to explore organizational culture as a complex system and examined the impacts of changes in sentiment that underlie culture. Cultural studies have also used hierarchical linear regression. Clugston, et al. 2000 used survey data to test a nine-factor model of commitment in a hierarchical regression analysis. Song, et al. 2009 also used survey data and hierarchical linear regression to explore employee responses to executive leadership style, organizational culture, and employment approaches.

  • Carroll, Glenn R., and J. R. Harrison. “Organizational Demography and Culture: Insights from a Formal Model and Simulation.” Administrative Science Quarterly 43.3 (1998): 637–667.

    DOI: 10.2307/2393678Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Uses a computer simulation of a mathematical model to explore the relationship between the length of service (tenure) distribution and organizational outcomes, including culture.

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  • Clugston, Michael, Jon P. Howell, and Peter W. Dorfman. “Does Cultural Socialization Predict Multiple Bases and Foci of Commitment?” Journal of Management 26.1 (2000): 5–30.

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    Tests whether individualized measures of power distance, collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity are related to an employee’s level of commitment, using a nine-factor model of commitment and hierarchical regression analysis; results indicate that cultural dimensions are significant predictors of multiple bases and foci of commitment among employees.

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  • Frank, Kenneth A., and Kyle Fahrbach. “Organization Culture as a Complex System: Balance and Information in Models of Influence and Selection.” Organization Science 10.3 (1999): 253–277.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.10.3.253Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Uses simulations to explore the system underlying organizational culture by incorporating the social-psychological principles of balance and information into models of influence and selection.

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  • Song, Lynda Jiwen, Anne S. Tsui, and Kenneth S. Law. “Unpacking Employee Responses to Organizational Exchange Mechanisms: The Role of Social and Economic Exchange Perceptions.” Journal of Management 35.1 (2009): 56–93.

    DOI: 10.1177/0149206308321544Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Employs hierarchical linear modeling analyses to examine employee responses to organizational-level mechanisms of executive leadership style, organizational culture, and employment approaches by examining the mediating role of employees’ perceptions of social and economic exchange relationships.

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Studies of organizational culture have also employed qualitative methods of empirical inquiry. Much like quantitative methods, qualitative approaches are varied and rather wide-reaching, allowing for their use in exploring a number of aspects of culture from a range of angles. Academics in the field of management and organization studies have drawn from qualitative research methods used in other fields to develop tools and insights that facilitate a deeper understanding of organizational culture. Notably, a range of suggestions for qualitative methods surfaced early on, as scholars attempted to accurately measure and make sense of the concept. Schall 1983 supports research on culture through analysis of communication rules in organizations, and Riley 1983 proposes building from the theory of structuration to investigate political culture in organizations. Gregory 1983 advocates use of the native paradigm, used in anthropology, to assess organizational culture. Van Maanen 1988 serves as a longstanding and classic guide to the use of ethnography in exploring culture from an insider’s point of view. Trice and Beyer 1984 advocates a more narrow focus than Van Maanen 1988, urging culture researchers to understand culture by examining rites and ceremonies. There are also a number of publications that demonstrate the usefulness of qualitative methods. An early article on organizational culture, Martin, et al. 1983, focuses on the content of organizational stories as a way of understanding culture. Sapienza 1987 also focuses on language, this time in the context of organizational leaders, figures of speech, and strategy planning. Most recently, Harrison and Corley 2011 (cited under Culture as a Tool Kit) uses an inductive qualitative study, involving interviews, observation, and content analysis, to develop an open-systems perspective on culture.

  • Gregory, Kathleen L. “Native-View Paradigms: Multiple Cultures and Culture Conflicts in Organizations.” Administrative Science Quarterly 28.3 (1983): 359–376.

    DOI: 10.2307/2392247Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Recommends native-view paradigms from anthropology for exploring multiple perspectives of a range of organizational actors; uses a recent study of processionals’ “native” views to illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed methodology.

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  • Martin, Joanne, Martha S. Feldman, Mary Jo Hatch, and Sim B. Sitkin. “The Uniqueness Paradox in Organizational Stories.” Administrative Science Quarterly 28.3 (1983): 438–453.

    DOI: 10.2307/2392251Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Focuses on the content of organizational stories as a source of understanding of organizational culture; suggests that within industries, competitive advantage based on organizational culture is unlikely in light of profound similarities among businesses’ organizational stories.

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  • Riley, Patricia. “A Structurationist Account of Political Culture.” Administrative Science Quarterly 28.3 (1983): 414–437.

    DOI: 10.2307/2392250Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Proposes the theory of structuration as a means of studying organizational culture; presents findings from a study using the proposed methodology to explore structures and subcultures in two firms.

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  • Sapienza, Alice M. “Imagery and Strategy.” Journal of Management 13.3 (1987): 543.

    DOI: 10.1177/014920638701300310Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Focuses on the language that top managers share in the process of strategic decision-making, and examines the imagery and subsequent strategic decisions of two groups of top managers facing the same environmental stimuli.

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  • Schall, Maryan S. “A Communication-Rules Approach to Organizational Culture.” Administrative Science Quarterly 28.4 (1983): 557–581.

    DOI: 10.2307/2393009Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Suggests that organizational culture can be studied and understood using a communication-rules perspective; presents findings from a feasibility study using communications rules that provides support for use of the method.

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  • Trice, Harrison M., and Janice M. Beyer. “Studying Organizational Cultures through Rites and Ceremonials.” Academy of Management Review 9.4 (1984): 653–669.

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    Advocates studying rites and ceremonies; presents, illustrates, and discusses a typology of rites and ceremonies and examines the implications of cultural studies for research and practice.

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  • Van Maanen, John. Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

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    A classic reference and guide for students, scholars, and practitioners of ethnography, this was among the first works to detail and critically analyze the various styles and narrative conventions associated with written representations of culture.

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Mixed Methods

To date, few researchers have mixed qualitative and quantitative methods in the study of culture. Hofstede, et al. 1990 provides a rare example of a mixed-methods research approach: the authors relied on both in-depth interviews and a survey of a random sample of employees to understand organizations’ cultures.

  • Hofstede, Geert, Bram Neuijen, Denise Daval Ohayv, and Geert Sanders. “Measuring Organizational Cultures: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study across Twenty Cases.” Administrative Science Quarterly 35.2 (1990): 286–316.

    DOI: 10.2307/2393392Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An example of a mixed-methods approach to studying culture, this paper uses data from in-depth interviews of selected informants and a questionnaire survey of a stratified random sample of organizational members; it suggests that shared perceptions of daily practices, rather than shared values, are the core of an organization’s culture.

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Related Concepts

Organizational culture has been studied with regard to a variety of related concepts affecting organizational life. In the following sections, the link between culture and a number of related concepts is discussed, and major works in each area are highlighted.


Drawing the distinction between organizational culture and organizational climate has long challenged scholars, and efforts to understand the relationship between the two continue today. The study of organizational climate preceded that of culture; it derives from field research and the study of individuals’ attitudes in organizations. As scholars began to turn their attention to broader aspects of overall organizational functioning and effectiveness, they extended ideas from anthropology and sociology to focus on culture in organizations, rather than on climate. Today, the two concepts are often defined in relation to each other, in recognition of the significant overlap between culture and climate. Specifically, climate is typically characterized as related to attitudes and perceptions of organization members that reflect a substantial part of the work environment, while organizational culture is seen as more diffuse, with a greater focus on mission, vision, and values. Schneider 1990 proved instrumental in recognizing the distinction between climate and culture while simultaneously urging exploration of the two in concert. A later work, Denison 1996, offers a commentary on enduring theoretical and methodological distinctions between scholars of culture and climate, and discussed implications of the divide. Edited volumes reflecting the climate-culture controversy include Ashkanasy, et al. 2011, which provides an overview of current research, theory, and practice in the field, and Cooper, et al. 2001, which seeks to overcome the US-centric research approach as it integrates and reflects on traditional and emergent approaches to studying organizational culture.

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

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    A volume of contributions from experts on organizational culture that brings readers through definitions and measurement of culture and climate, culture change, and international perspectives on the topic.

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  • Cooper, Cary L., Sue Cartwright, and P. Christopher Early, eds. The International Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate. New York: Wiley, 2001.

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    Adopts an international perspective on organizational culture as contributors define culture and climate, discuss research methods, reflect on implications for individuals and organizations, and speculate about the future of this stream of research.

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  • Denison, Daniel 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 21.3 (1996): 619–654.

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    Examines emerging similarities between research on climate and culture; considers differences and similarities in literature, epistemology, and methodology.

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  • Schneider, Benjamin, ed. Organizational Climate and Culture. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.

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    An important volume in organizational culture studies, this book discusses how examining climate and culture together can advance understanding of the behavior of individuals within organizations.

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Scholars have long recognized that organizational culture exists within a broader context, one linked to industry or geography, for example. A number of studies have examined the interplay between organizational context and culture, exploring how contextual factors affect culture, as well as how contextual and cultural cues interact to produce certain outcomes within organizations. Whorton and Worthley 1981 focuses on the relationship between context and culture and sheds light on how contextual conditions affect the culture and decisions of leaders. Pheysey 1993 also links organizational culture with broader societal culture and discusses the role of such contextual factors on organizational initiatives and changes. Doktor, et al. 1991 focuses on how industry characteristics influence organizational culture, as do Gordon 1991 and Chatman and Jehn 1994 (both cited under As a Dependent Variable). Dutton, et al. 2002 explores the interaction of contextual and cultural cues in organizations, examining how they affect selling of gender-equity issues in organizations.

  • Doktor, Robert, Rosalie L. Tung, and Mary Ann Von Glinow. “Incorporating International Dimensions in Management Theory Building.” Academy of Management Review 16.2 (1991): 259–261.

    DOI: 10.5465/AMR.1991.4278933Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Argues that the characteristics of the industry in which a company operates strongly influence organizational culture; suggests that companies in an industry share cultural characteristics.

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  • Dutton, Jane E., Susan J. Ashford, Katherine A. Lawrence, and Kathi Miner-Rubino. “Red Light, Green Light: Making Sense of the Organizational Context for Issue Selling.” Organization Science 13.4 (2002): 355–369.

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    Analyzes the contextual cues female managers attend to when considering raising gender-equity issues at work and examines why cultural exclusivity affects issue selling.

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  • Pheysey, Diana C. Organizational Cultures: Types and Transformations. New York: Routledge, 1993.

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    Drawing from four examples of societal culture, delineates four possible types of cultures in organizations; discusses the interplay of contextual and organizational forces in precipitating a range of organizational outcomes.

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  • Whorton, Joseph W., and John A. Worthley. “A Perspective on the Challenge of Public Management: Environmental Paradox and Organizational Culture.” Academy of Management Review 6.3 (1981): 357–361.

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    Uses the concept of organizational culture to focus on how the paradoxical nature of the public administration environment presents challenges to management in the public sector.

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Organizational scholars have long acknowledged the organization as an open system—that is, a system influenced by external forces. This broad interest has recently manifested itself as a sustained interest in issues at the intersection of national and organizational culture. Tsui, et al. 2007 provides a helpful recent overview of the state of this stream of research. Geert Hofstede is widely viewed as a pioneer in understanding the impact of national culture on organizations. With Hofstede 2001 (cited under Introductory Works), he established a widespread awareness of the impact of national cultural differences on businesses; Hofstede 2010 extends those findings, examining cultural differences across seventy nations and discussing their implications for businesses. In additional work in this area, scholars focus on a number of aspects of organizational life. Kedia and Bhagat 1988 illustrates that both national and organizational culture played a role in the success of technology transfer across nations, while Gibson and Zellmer-Bruhn 2001 offers a framework to explain different understandings of the concept of teamwork across national and organizational cultures. Morris, et al. 2008 studies how culture’s norms influence informal relations in organizations. In related work, scholars have also focused on organizational outcomes in particular national cultures. For example, Fey and Denison 2003 focuses on differences between organizations’ cultures in the United States and in Russia, a transition economy. Robert and Wasti 2002 examines individualism and collectivism in Turkish firms. Scholars have also paid close attention to culture in Chinese companies, where recent economic and legal developments have provided interesting opportunities for developing new understandings of organizational culture. In recent work, for example, Keller and Loewenstein 2011 explores how cultural conditioning influences understandings of cooperation in organizations in China and in the United States.

  • Fey, Carl F., and Daniel R. Denison. “Organizational Culture and Effectiveness: Can American Theory Be Applied in Russia?” Organization Science 14.6 (2003): 686–706.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.14.6.686.24868Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines the link between organizational culture and effectiveness for foreign-owned firms operating in Russia; argues that adaptability and flexibility play a more significant role in Russia than in the United States in explaining organizational effectiveness.

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  • Gibson, Cristina B., and Mary Zellmer-Bruhn. “Metaphors and Meaning: An Intercultural Analysis of the Concept of Teamwork.” Administrative Science Quarterly 46.2 (2001): 274–303.

    DOI: 10.2307/2667088Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Suggests that use of teamwork metaphors varies across countries and organizations; presents a conceptual framework around teamwork across national and organizational cultures.

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  • Hofstede, Geert. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. 3d ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.

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    A study of cultural differences across seventy nations that shares updates to the scientific results published in Hofstede 2001 (cited under Introductory Works) and helps readers understand how they think as members of groups.

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  • Kedia, Ben L., and Rabi S. Bhagat. “Cultural Constraints on Transfer of Technology across Nations: Implications for Research in International and Comparative Management.” Academy of Management Review 13.4 (1988): 559–571.

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    Suggests that variations in national and organizational culture influence the success of the transfer of technologies across nations.

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  • Keller, Joshua, and Jeffrey Loewenstein. “The Cultural Category of Cooperation: A Cultural Consensus Model Analysis for China and the United States.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 299–319.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0530Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Uses a study comparing cooperation in China and the United States to argue that cooperation is a cultural category, and that what it means to cooperate is culturally conditioned.

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  • Morris, Michael W., Joel Podolny, and Bilian Ni Sullivan. “Culture and Coworker Relations: Interpersonal Patterns in American, Chinese, German, and Spanish Divisions of a Global Retail Bank.” Organization Science 19.4 (2008): 517–532.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1070.0333Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines coworker networks in the American, Chinese, German, and Spanish divisions of a global retail bank and suggests that culture’s norms influence the content and structure of employees’ interactions with coworkers.

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  • Robert, Christopher, and S. A. Wasti. “Organizational Individualism and Collectivism: Theoretical Development and an Empirical Test of a Measure.” Journal of Management 28.4 (2002): 544–566.

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    Empirically tests organizational individualism and collectivism constructs and measures in forty-six Turkish organizations; discusses the utility of this approach for understanding the relationships among individuals, organizations, and societies.

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  • Tsui, Anne S., Sushil S. Nifadkar, and Amy Yi Ou. “Cross-National, Cross-Cultural Organizational Behavior Research: Advances, Gaps, and Recommendations.” Journal of Management 33.3 (2007): 426–478.

    DOI: 10.1177/0149206307300818Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An analysis of recent empirical studies in management. Uses an analysis of ninety-three empirical studies published in the sixteen leading management journals from 1996 to 2005 to identify advances and gaps in both theory and methods and suggest avenues for future research.

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In a small but important area of research, scholars have explored the link between culture and identity. The influential article Fiol 1991 portrays culture and identity as inextricably linked. Fiol 1991 argues that businesses should manage cognitive processes for competitive advantage by focusing on the identities people use to make sense of the things they do. A more recent article, Ravasi and Schultz 2006, again links culture with identity, this time at the organizational level. The authors develop a theoretical framework for understanding how image and culture influence claims and understandings about an organization’s identity.

  • Fiol, C. Marlene. “Managing Culture as a Competitive Resource: An Identity-Based View of Sustainable Competitive Advantage.” Journal of Management 17.1 (1991): 191.

    DOI: 10.1177/014920639101700112Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Argues that the links between beliefs and behaviors are at the very core of managing cognitive processes for sustained advantage; reframes the culture concept to highlight the role of contextual identities in linking behaviors and their social meaning in organizations.

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  • Ravasi, Davide, and Majken Schultz. “Responding to Organizational Identity Threats: Exploring the Role of Organizational Culture.” Academy of Management Journal 49.3 (2006): 433–458.

    DOI: 10.5465/AMJ.2006.21794663Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Building from data gathered in a longitudinal case study, highlights the role of organizational culture in sense making and sense giving and presents a theoretical framework explaining how images and culture shape claims and shared understandings about organizational identity.

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Using the approach of the functionalist paradigm, work on culture and personality has been a prevalent focus in existing literature. In general, this line of research has suggested that a “fit” between individual personality and culture drives a number of organizational outcomes. Kets de Vries and Miller 1986 is an early piece on this topic, using culture as a vehicle for linking personality with strategy. Other work has focused on employee personalities. Judge and Cable 1997 suggests that job applicants’ Big Five personality traits influenced their preferences for cultures of organizations. O’Reilly, et al. 1991 finds that fit between employee personality and organizational culture predicted job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover. Finally, Chatman and Barsade 1995 suggests that both personality and cultural factors influence cooperation and organizational effectiveness.

  • Chatman, Jennifer A., and Sigal G. Barsade. “Personality, Organizational Culture, and Cooperation: Evidence from a Business Simulation.” Administrative Science Quarterly 40.3 (1995): 423–443.

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    Explores how cooperation is generated in organizations by contrasting behaviors that occur when an organization’s culture aligns or clashes with employees’ personalities.

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  • Judge, Timothy A., and Daniel M. Cable. “Applicant Personality, Organizational Culture, and Organization Attraction.” Personnel Psychology 50.2 (1997): 359–394.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1997.tb00912.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines job seekers’ personalities and their organizational culture preferences, and explores how these preferences interact with recruiting organizations’ cultures in their relation to organization attraction.

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  • Kets de Vries, Manfred F. R., and Danny Miller. “Personality, Culture, and Organization.” Academy of Management Review 11.2 (1986): 266–279.

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    Argues that the personality of the top executive can influence strategy in centralized firms and, through culture, in decentralized firms as well.

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  • O’Reilly, Charles A., Jennifer Chatman, and David F. Caldwell. “People and Organizational Culture: A Profile Comparison Approach to Assessing Person-Organization Fit.” Academy of Management Journal 34.3 (1991): 487–516.

    DOI: 10.2307/256404Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presents an instrument for assessing person-organization fit, the Organizational Culture Profile (OCP), and speaks to the importance of understanding fit between individuals’ preferences and cultures of organizations.

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Reflecting influences from related fields, particularly sociology, management scholars have recently turned their attention to cultural production in organizations. Dowd 2004 highlights and discusses the growth of academic research on musical production, reflecting the growing interest in cultural production across academic fields. Lampel, et al. 2006 begins to bridge research in sociology and management; the authors focus on cultural production in business through their examination of cultural industries, including motion pictures, television, music, radio, and video games. Within management literature, the study of cultural production has examined meaning making within firms and the outcomes thereof. Meyerson 1994 studies the cultural production of stress and burnout, and Kellogg 2011 (see Culture as a Tool Kit) contributes to work on cultural production of organizational life in a discussion of how cultural and political factors shape perceptions and practice change in organizations.

The Dark Side

Although a majority of research on culture attempts to understand, explain, and manage the positive outcomes culture may create, scholars have also acknowledged its dark side, or the negative aspects of culture. A book exploring culture and performance, Kotter and Heskett 1992, reports on a comprehensive critical analysis of how the culture of a corporation powerfully influences its economic performance, for better or for worse. Published in the same year, Kunda 1992 also offers a critical analysis of corporate culture, focusing on managerial attempts to design and impose a culture that normatively controls employees. O’Reilly and Chatman 1996 examines culture within groups and organizations as a social control system based on shared norms and values, and Sims and Brinkmann 2003 draws from a case study of Enron to lend empirical support to these theoretical arguments. Ravlin and Thomas 2005 highlights status and stratification processes in organizations and discusses the role of culture in these processes.

Disciplinary Influences

Because the concept of culture originated in related social science disciplines, this entry would be incomplete without considering the disciplinary influences that shaped initial understandings of the concept and that continue to influence research in the field of management today. The influence of sociology, and of cultural sociology in particular, is pervasive among scholars of organizational culture. This section briefly reviews some of the most influential work in this burgeoning line of inquiry without the pretense of being exhaustive. Ouchi and Wilkins 1985 details the origins of the concept of organizational culture and reflects on scholarly debates that arose at that time, as the study of culture in and of organizations was introduced and recognized. The article provides insight into the process by which organizational culture was conceived in academic spheres and foreshadows its full adoption by organizational scholars. A highly influential article, Swidler 1986, introduced the concept of culture as a “tool kit” of resources that individuals may use to construct strategies of action in various situations. Subsequently, Swidler 2001 drew from empirical research to offer more applied insight on the impact of cultural meanings in everyday perceptions and actions. The influence of the tool kit conception of culture is evident in a number of recent publications (see Culture as a Tool Kit). Work by Lamont and colleagues has also informed studies in management and organization, characterizing culture in a number of useful and insightful ways. Lamont and Lareau 1988 expands upon the classic concept of cultural capital (credited to Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron) to explore its significance in American culture; Lamont 1992 then extends these ideas to explore social class in modern society. More recently, Lamont and Molnar 2002 surveys the increasingly popular concept of social boundaries as a type of cultural resource. In the last few years, Stephen Vaisey has produced influential work on culture in sociology, as well. Vaisey 2008 critiques prevalent sociological perspectives on culture; Vaisey 2009 moves these recommendations forward, offering a dual-process model of how culture affects actions in everyday life. This model presents a promising new way for organizational culture scholars to consider their own work.

  • Lamont, Michèle. Money, Morals, and Manners: The Culture of the French and American Upper-Middle Class. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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    Draws from interviews with 160 successful men in the United States and France to describe the use of values and attitudes in separating the upper middle class from other social classes and to illuminate the nature of social class in modern society.

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  • Lamont, Michèle, and Annette Lareau. “Cultural Capital: Allusions, Gaps and Glissandos in Recent Theoretical Developments.” Sociological Theory 6.2 (1988): 153–168.

    DOI: 10.2307/202113Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Discusses and clarifies Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron’s original work on cultural capital; proposes a new definition of cultural capital which focuses on cultural and social exclusion.

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  • Lamont, Michèle, and Virág Molnár. “The Study of Boundaries in the Social Sciences.” Annual Review of Sociology 28 (2002): 167–195.

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    Surveys developments in the study of boundaries in the social sciences; suggests paths for further development, including cultural mechanisms for the production of boundaries.

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  • Ouchi, William G., and Alan L. Wilkins. “Organizational Culture.” Annual Review of Sociology 11 (1985): 457–483.

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    Reviews theoretical and empirical contributions to understanding culture and its link with planned change in organizations; reflects on issues and concerns.

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  • Swidler, Ann. “Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies.” American Sociological Review 51.2 (1986): 273–286.

    DOI: 10.2307/2095521Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Suggests that culture influences action by shaping a “tool kit” of habits, skills, and styles from which individuals construct strategies of action; introduces two models of cultural influence, for settled and unsettled periods.

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  • Swidler, Ann. Talk of Love: How Culture Matters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

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    Uses eighty-eight interviews with white, middle-class individuals to determine how people use cultural meanings in their everyday lives to argue that all people from all times and places use cultural messages in the same ways.

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  • Vaisey, Stephen. “Socrates, Skinner, and Aristotle: Three Ways of Thinking about Culture in Action.” Sociological Forum 23.3 (2008): 603–613.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1573-7861.2008.00079.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Discusses two typical ways in which scholars have considered culture’s role in action, which alternately view culture as impacting motivation or as a device for post-hoc sense making. Offers recommendations to synthesize the two to develop a more complete understanding of how culture influences actions.

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  • Vaisey, Stephen. “Motivation and Justification: A Dual-Process Model of Culture in Action.” American Journal of Sociology 114.6 (2009): 1675–1715.

    DOI: 10.1086/597179Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presents a new model of culture in action that integrates justificatory and motivational approaches; uses panel data to substantiate the proposed model.

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Emerging Approaches

As evidenced by a 2011 special issue of Organization Science (Weber and Dacin 2011), interest in organizational culture remains strong. Scholars continue to take new approaches to exploring and understanding how culture influences individuals and organizations in the business world, generating new insights on topics including cultural entrepreneurship and culture as a tool kit, and using theories and methodologies from other fields to consider culture in new ways.

  • Weber, Klaus, and M. Tina Dacin. “The Cultural Construction of Organizational Life: Introduction to the Special Issue.” In Special Issue: Cultural Construction of Organizational Life. Edited by Klaus Weber and M. Tina Dacin. Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 287–298.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0632Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Introduces the special issue dedicated to the study of culture in organizations; provides a brief history of the field and summarizes articles included in the special issue.

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Cultural Entrepreneurship

One important new concept related to organizational culture that has attracted significant attention in recent years is that of cultural entrepreneurship. Lounsbury and Glynn 2001 introduced the concept, defining cultural entrepreneurship as the process of storytelling that allows for negotiation between existing stores of entrepreneurial resources and subsequent capital acquisition and wealth creation. In subsequent work, Wry, et al. 2011 extended research on cultural entrepreneurship with a focus on collective identity stories that identify the group’s orienting purpose and core practices. Additional work in this area is likely to appear in coming years.

  • Lounsbury, Michael, and Mary Ann Glynn. “Cultural Entrepreneurship: Stories, Legitimacy, and the Acquisition of Resources.” Strategic Management Journal 22.6 (2001): 545.

    DOI: 10.1002/smj.188Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Proposes a framework that explains how entrepreneurial stories help to create a new venture identity that allows for establishment of legitimacy based on opinions of investors, competitors, and consumers.

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  • Wry, Tyler, Michael Lounsbury, and Mary Ann Glynn. “Legitimating Nascent Collective Identities: Coordinating Cultural Entrepreneurship.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 449–463.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0613Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Draws on the notion of cultural entrepreneurship to argue that legitimacy is more likely to be achieved when members articulate a clear, defining collective identity story that identifies the group’s orienting purpose and core practices.

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Culture as a Tool Kit

A number of recent publications have drawn from the concept of culture as a “tool kit” to develop new insights on organizational culture (see Swidler 1986, cited under Disciplinary Influences for the foundational article). Harrison and Corley 2011 employs the tool kit conception of culture to develop an open-systems perspective of culture based on the transfer of cultural resources between actors within and outside the organization. Kellogg 2011 explores how cultural and political tool kits provide resources that enable or hinder organizational change. Leonardi 2011 and Rindova, et al. 2011 also use the concept of culture as a tool kit to explore the acquisition and framing of new resources in organizations.

  • Harrison, Spencer H., and Kevin G. Corley. “Clean Climbing, Carabiners, and Cultural Cultivation: Developing an Open-Systems Perspective of Culture.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 391–412.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0538Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An inductive study that uses semi-structured, one-on-one interviews, written and electronic documentation, and participant and nonparticipant observation to develop a new model of organizational culture.

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  • Kellogg, Katherine C. “Hot Lights and Cold Steel: Cultural and Political Toolkits for Practice Change in Surgery.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 482–502.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0539Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Offers insights on cultural production of organizational life through a focus on how cultural and political tool kits enable organizational change.

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  • Leonardi, Paul M. “Innovation Blindness: Culture, Frames, and Cross-Boundary Problem Construction in the Development of New Technology Concepts.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 347–369.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0529Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Draws from work on organizational cultural tool kits to suggest that, rather than culture directly shaping technological artifacts, technology in fact frames cultural resources, which in turn influence development of technological artifacts.

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  • Rindova, Violina, Elena Dalpiaz, and Davide Ravasi. “A Cultural Quest: A Study of Organizational Use of New Cultural Resources in Strategy Formation.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 413–431.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0537Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Uses a historical case study of the incorporation of new cultural resources in the cultural repertoire of a firm to relate the use of new cultural resources to the development of unconventional strategies and strategic versatility.

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Other Emerging Approaches

Concepts from other disciplines have also influenced work on organizational culture in additional ways. Influences from research in the field of strategy are quite visible in emerging culture research. Maurer, et al. 2011 incorporates cultural insights into the resource-based view of a firm to explain how cultural elements in the firm’s institutional context shape the value of the firm’s strategy. Kaplan 2011 conceptualizes culture as a set of practices that informs the “machineries” of knowing in an ethnographic study of the use of PowerPoint in an organization. Jonsson and Buhr 2011 examines how field positions mediate the influence of the business press on industry-wide culture change. Other fields have lent ideas reflected in emerging approaches to understanding culture, as well. Chatman and Spataro 2005 draws from research on relational demography, using self-categorization theory from research in social psychology to explore demographic differences and responses to organizational culture. Howard-Grenville, et al. 2011 integrates the sociological concept of liminality, a process that emphasizes the symbolic and enables recombination, to explore culture change from a new vantage point. Wasserman and Frenkel 2011 uses insights from spatial theory to better understand the role of organizational aesthetics in organizational identity and culture. Vaara and Tienari 2011 reflects research in the field of communications as it suggests antenarrative analysis as a means for studying and understanding organizational culture. Finally, the influence of the positive psychology movement is evident in Cameron and Spreitzer 2011, which includes organizational culture as an element of positive organizational scholarship. Moving forward, it seems that emerging approaches will likely continue to draw from concepts in related fields to better understand culture in today’s organizations.

  • Cameron, Kim S., and Gretchen M. Spreitzer. Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Focuses on positive organizational scholarship (POS), a concept used to call attention to generative dynamics in organizations; includes chapters by contributors who use a positive lens to expand current thought and theory in the management field.

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  • Chatman, Jennifer A., and Sandra E. Spataro. “Using Self-Categorization Theory to Understand Relational Demography-Based Variations in People’s Responsiveness to Organizational Culture.” Academy of Management Journal 48.2 (2005): 321–331.

    DOI: 10.5465/AMJ.2005.16928415Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Explores how demographic differences affect responses to organizational cues to cooperate, suggesting the need for a deeper understanding of the interplay of relational demography and organizational culture.

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  • Howard-Grenville, Jennifer, Karen Golden-Biddle, Jennifer Irwin, and Jina Mao. “Liminality as Cultural Process for Cultural Change.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 522–539.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0554Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presents a model of cultural change in which everyday occurrences are seen as “liminal” phenomena, bracketed from, yet connected to, everyday organizational action, creating possibilities for organizational change.

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  • Jonsson, Stefan, and Helena Buhr. “The Limits of Media Effects: Field Positions and Cultural Change in a Mutual Fund Market.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 464–481.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0553Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines how field structures moderate the effect of the business press on organizational outcomes, with a discussion of how field positions moderate the effects of cultural processes.

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  • Kaplan, Sarah. “Strategy and PowerPoint: An Inquiry into the Epistemic Culture and Machinery of Strategy Making.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 320–346.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0531Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Conceptualizes culture as the “machineries” of knowing; suggests that the discursive practices enabled by PowerPoint are part of the epistemic core of strategy culture.

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  • Maurer, Cara C., Pratima Bansal, and Mary M. Crossan. “Creating Economic Value through Social Values: Introducing a Culturally Informed Resource-Based View.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 432–448.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0546Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Introduces a culturally informed resource-based view to explain how cultural elements in the firm’s institutional context shape a firm’s strategy’s economic value.

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  • Vaara, Eero, and Janne Tienari. “On the Narrative Construction of Multinational Corporations: An Antenarrative Analysis of Legitimation and Resistance in a Cross-Border Merger.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 370–390.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0593Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Emphasizes the use of narratives as central discursive resources in organizational change; develops a new kind of antenarrative approach for the cultural analysis of organizational change.

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  • Wasserman, Varda, and Michal Frenkel. “Organizational Aesthetics: Caught between Identity Regulation and Culture Jamming.” Organization Science 22.2 (2011): 503–521.

    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0583Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Applying insights from Henri Lefebvre’s spatial theory, presents a model of the role of organizational aesthetics in identity regulation and culture jamming.

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