“Culture is the system of suchpublicly and collectively accepted meanings operating for a given group at agiven time” (Pettigrew, 1979)Organisation culture is the set ofbeliefs of the company that are shared amongst employees and shared buy itscustomers. It is a widely explored paradigm and has remodelled definitionthroughout many decades of organisations and management. From Charles Handy’sfour classes of culture (power, role, task and person) to metaphoricrepresentations like Edgar Schein’s iceberg. Hence, culture is formed of manyorganisation aspects including subjective feelings such as expression andvalue, preconscious factors suchas symbols and norms and deep structures such as assumptions and worldviews (Pettigrew, 1979).
Put together, they all show thatculture is an important aspect of an organisation and without giving it thethought it deserves, strategy development could perform not as well as itcould, leading to the belief thatculture should always fit with organisational strategy. Lance Revenaugh(1994) supports the argument, along with many other researchers, that corporateculture is a vital contemplation for understanding and successfully dealing with organisations.Its various definitions andinterpretation can make corporate culture difficult to define, measure orcontrol; this shows that culture is not static, it is a multifaceted conceptthat is always changing though time and being influenced by many factors, assuggested by Pettigrew (1979). Strickland and Thompson (1987) provide thisdescription:”Every organisation is a uniqueculture, it has its own special history of how the organisation has beenmanaged, its own set of ways of approaching problems and conducting activities,its own mix of managerial personalities and styles, its own establishedpatterns of “how we do things around here.”There are many definitions ofculture but the basic understanding of this concept in organisational terms istwofold. It is a representation of the core of the company and its way of doingthings or even its Achilles Heel.Culture is viewed in two ways.
Thefirst is through the added unique benefits it adds to a workplace. The latteris often associated with the term “Icarus Paradox” (Miller, 1991). Miller argues that a company’s previous success can sometimes be theresult of their downfall. This is called strategic drift, which is a criticalconcept within Strategic Management. It typically happens when organisationsare unable to keep pace with the changes that happen in their internalenvironment which in turn leads to their slow and gradual demise.
In thismatter, culture is viewed as a barrier to change, which can cause strategicdrift due to innovation being suppressed. Summarising this point, anorganisations response to the external environment is made up within theorganisation rather than taking into account the external elements andunderstanding the objectives. Therefore, this proves that strategic changedmust always be accompanied by an appropriate change of organisational culture.Quinn (1980) and Lindblom (1958) havestated gradual development is something to be expected within organisations andit is also logical. Managers are aware that it is not possible to know thethreats 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 producingstrategies in stages, which carries employees from the beginning of it throughto the end. Through this process, new concepts and practices are tested withinthe organisation to see which are likely to be operational. Commitment is kindledthough continual gradual change. Mintzberg and Waters (1985) state that puttingtoo much pressure on what the manager already thinks can be risky, because itdoesn’t matter if they appreciate logicalincrementalism or not, because it doesn’t necessarily mean that they actin 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 internalpower.There has been a vast amount ofresearch carried out in the recent years regarding the formulation andimplementation of strategy. Therefore, the case I am presenting is that forstrategic change to be effective, those within the organisation, must take intoaccount the cultural constraints.
It is correct to say that organisationalstrategy and culture should fit with each other, assuming that culture can bemeasured and regulated. The rationalistic models, one of them being logicalincrementalism, which have governed scientific management, have only scratchedthe surface, and should be viewed as a vital component of a much broaderoperation. This is because there are other different theories statingexplicitly how managers deal with the intensity of managing change.
For example, Allaire and Firsirotu(1984) explained the importance of how an organisation analyses itsenvironment. Leadership, organisational design and decision-making style areimportant factors within the analysis process. Though, Schein (2004) arguesorganisation strategy is the outcome of organisational culture, not vice versa,because organisational culture takes all these factor into account.