Essay: Organisational culture

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  • Organisational culture
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Every business, corporation, establishment or organisation whether state or privately owned, has its own unique identity, which makes them stand out, different from the others. Therefore, what is this unique identity? According to Porter (1985), they incorporate a distinctive set of specific cultural norms into that company; these images are beneficial as it enhances their identity, increases creditability and clearly communicates their intentions to their employees, stakeholder and other organisations. It positively communicates their persona, ethos, aims and values and presents a sense of individuality (Balmer, 1995) and downplays and restrains its negative face of dominance and iniquitousness. Companies would not invest their time and money in developing their affirmative own uniqueness, individual identity and this positive personality must appeal to all current, potential and future stakeholders that are involved with the organisation (Baker and Balmer, 1997; Harris and de Chernatony, 2001). Balmer (2001), suggests that these identities are continually being created developed, fostered and nurtured through the cultural actions and mannerism of their owners, leaders but also in tradition and the cultural environment. 
However, there is a face that is rarely externally communicated, normally internally suppressed, the negative face of identity which includes an unconscious bias that can cultivate an environment of harassment, bullying, discrimination, and negative social attitudes towards disenfranchised group. These social attitudes are changeable due to the size of the organisation it is dynamic, what industry they operate in and the geographical location of the organisation. It appears that organisational cultures do not form in the traditional sense rather cultures may form quickly around a specific location or person. Hartley and Cheyne, (2009) indicate the pivotal role played by management in transmitting the unconscious bias of themselves set in the organisations culture, and how these ethos are transmitted and received by their likeminded workforce. Therefore, managers are essential self-selecting group and often hold homogeneous attitudes subsequently managers naturally tend to form relationships with those who are similar (Page, 2008) and thereby reject things they see as different or make them feel uncomfortable, such as people with disabilities or any disenfranchised group.

Before proceeding, it is appropriate first to consider and define organisational culture. Bell (2001) quoting Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952) defined culture as: “patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behaviour”, “ideas and especially their attached values”. Schein (2004:16) says “Culture formation can be informal, stemming from the interactions of an unstructured group which leads to norms of behaviour, or formal, when a group leader imposes his / her “vision, goals, beliefs, values and assumptions”. Organizations directors tend to have quite strong similarities, as they tend to be fairly homogeneous (ABD, 2011). Thereby, organisations are fundamentally self-selecting will often have homogeneous attitudes, since people naturally tend to form relationships with those who are similar. Overall, Cox and Munsinger conclude that “powerful psychological factors are at work within the boardroom, creating a cohesive, loyal, conforming in-group that will support its members . . . under low and high levels of motivation and group values.”

Kroeber and Kluckhohn and Schein both indicate that organisational culture is fundamentally a set of underlying assumptions based on amorphous philosophies, doctrines and biases that are self-conscious whilst at the same time unconscious, constructed to develop its own individuality. It is fundamentally the tacit inherency the thing embedded within the organisation. These taken-for-granted attitudes and viewpoints, perceptions, conception, thoughts and feelings, to itself and others within the same group and they produce narratives, to safe guard these postures. This would indicate an elementary understanding “that people will favour their own group members… This type of in-group bias is conscious and explicit” (Page, 2009:249). However, what happens when you outside the group, xxxxx

In Schein (1993) earlier work indicated there are various levels of culture; essentially artefacts, embraced values all based on the rudimentary underlying assumptions for that organisation and its cultural background. According to Schein artefacts or trophies are the visible evidence of what the organisation and people do, including their structures and processes. Espoused and embraced values are the verbal evidence the organisation portrays including strategies, goals, philosophies and justifications what people say within their organisation.

Thereby, organisational culture is a pattern of communal tacit biases, traditions and assumptions on which societies base their opinions of reality on and then produce evidence to support, maintain and straighten that view. In contrast, Schultz & Maguire (2002) reveals it to be evolution founded philosophies, acceptances, beliefs and theories that an organisations irreplaceable identity is conditional, relational and dynamic; continually being created, developed, established and then recreated an incomplete set of collaborations, interactions, connotations and narratives. Hatch & Schultz says “organizational identity is not an aggregation of perceptions of an organization resting in peoples’ heads, it is a dynamic set of processes by which an organization’s self is continuously socially constructed from the interchange between internal and external definitions of the organization offered by all organizational stakeholders”. If this was the case, then why are the negative faces of unconscious bias still being allow to survive and grow, and why is difference still being seen in a deleterious way.

The nation of difference can led to discrimination, although a myriad of sources contribute to these disparities, there is some evidence that suggests that bias, prejudice, and stereotyping are partially based on historical factors, for example: on the part of religious and government doctrine and policies and literature that provides an acceptable level of differences in discrimination. The lack of attention to cultural beliefs and unconscious bias is likely to result in undesirable outcomes due to lack of good or poor information, surrounding difference to stereotypes, and to biases.

The nature of discrimination today is dramatically different from the pernicious, overt discrimination that existed prior to the passage of the anti-discrimination acts in the UK during the mid-1970 and 1990’s. While activists reinforced the need to protect disenfranchised group from intentional discrimination that limited their rights to the same employment opportunities, the discrimination that civil rights advocates are currently challenging is of a more restrained nature.

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