“Culture is the system of such
publicly and collectively accepted meanings operating for a given group at a
given time” (Pettigrew, 1979)

Organisation culture is the set of
beliefs of the company that are shared amongst employees and shared buy its
customers. It is a widely explored paradigm and has remodelled definition
throughout many decades of organisations and management. From Charles Handy’s
four classes of culture (power, role, task and person) to metaphoric
representations like Edgar Schein’s iceberg. Hence, culture is formed of many
organisation aspects including subjective feelings such as expression and
value, preconscious factors such
as symbols and norms and deep structures such as assumptions and world
views (Pettigrew, 1979). Put together, they all show that
culture is an important aspect of an organisation and without giving it the
thought it deserves, strategy development could perform not as well as it
could, leading to the belief that
culture should always fit with organisational strategy. Lance Revenaugh
(1994) supports the argument, along with many other researchers, that corporate
culture is a vital contemplation for understanding and successfully dealing with organisations.

Its various definitions and
interpretation can make corporate culture difficult to define, measure or
control; this shows that culture is not static, it is a multifaceted concept
that is always changing though time and being influenced by many factors, as
suggested by Pettigrew (1979). Strickland and Thompson (1987) provide this

“Every organisation is a unique
culture, it has its own special history of how the organisation has been
managed, its own set of ways of approaching problems and conducting activities,
its own mix of managerial personalities and styles, its own established
patterns of “how we do things around here.”

There are many definitions of
culture but the basic understanding of this concept in organisational terms is
twofold. It is a representation of the core of the company and its way of doing
things or even its Achilles Heel.

Culture is viewed in two ways. The
first is through the added unique benefits it adds to a workplace. The latter
is often associated with the term “Icarus Paradox” (Miller, 1991). 
Miller argues that a company’s previous success can sometimes be the
result of their downfall. This is called strategic drift, which is a critical
concept within Strategic Management. It typically happens when organisations
are unable to keep pace with the changes that happen in their internal
environment which in turn leads to their slow and gradual demise. In this
matter, culture is viewed as a barrier to change, which can cause strategic
drift due to innovation being suppressed. Summarising this point, an
organisations response to the external environment is made up within the
organisation rather than taking into account the external elements and
understanding the objectives. Therefore, this proves that strategic changed
must always be accompanied by an appropriate change of organisational culture.

Quinn (1980) and Lindblom (1958) have
stated gradual development is something to be expected within organisations and
it is also logical. Managers are aware that it is not possible to know the
threats and opportunities that could affect the future of the organisation.
This is called strategic fit, which is the opposite of strategic drift.

Uncertainty is avoided by producing
strategies in stages, which carries employees from the beginning of it through
to the end. Through this process, new concepts and practices are tested within
the organisation to see which are likely to be operational. Commitment is kindled
though continual gradual change. Mintzberg and Waters (1985) state that putting
too much pressure on what the manager already thinks can be risky, because it
doesn’t matter if they appreciate logical
incrementalism or not, because it doesn’t necessarily mean that they act
in certain ways. This distinguishes the different between the intended strategy
(what the company hopes to execute) and what is actually being implemented –
the realised strategy. This difference is due to culture – an unseen internal

There has been a vast amount of
research carried out in the recent years regarding the formulation and
implementation of strategy. Therefore, the case I am presenting is that for
strategic change to be effective, those within the organisation, must take into
account the cultural constraints. It is correct to say that organisational
strategy and culture should fit with each other, assuming that culture can be
measured and regulated. The rationalistic models, one of them being logical
incrementalism, which have governed scientific management, have only scratched
the surface, and should be viewed as a vital component of a much broader
operation. This is because there are other different theories stating
explicitly how managers deal with the intensity of managing change. For example, Allaire and Firsirotu
(1984) explained the importance of how an organisation analyses its
environment. Leadership, organisational design and decision-making style are
important factors within the analysis process. Though, Schein (2004) argues
organisation strategy is the outcome of organisational culture, not vice versa,
because organisational culture takes all these factor into account.


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