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In the past two decades, the term ‘organizational culture’ has become an operational word for businesses and organizations. Consequently, considerable amounts of resources have been used to institute operational organizational cultures with the view of increasing organizations’ chances of success. Organizational culture features differently within healthcare and teaching professions. The goals of teachers and healthcare professionals are dominated by differences and similarities in both goals and working environments. Organizational culture is defined as a “shared value system that guides members as they solve problems, adapt to the external environment, and manage relationships” (Schein, 2010, p. 34). This paper compares and contrasts the organizational cultures that apply to high school teachers and operating room nurses.
The organizational culture of high school teachers and operating room nurses are similar because both sets of professionals cater to the public domain. High school teachers deal with students who seek their services randomly. Therefore, a high school teacher is expected to teach a student irrespective of his/her religious, cultural, and racial affiliations. The same aspect applies to nurses who serve random patients irrespective of their backgrounds. Both nurses and high school students share a value system that seeks to ‘serve’ individuals indiscriminately; equal patient/student care culture. Operating room nurses and high school teachers share a human resource culture where they work under the supervision of ‘heads’. In the operating room, the hierarchy goes from chief operating officer to the head surgeon to the assisting surgeon and then to the nurse. There are no other significant healthcare professionals who work below nurses. The same human resource situation applies to the teachers who work below principals and above no one else. The placement of both high school teachers and operating room nurses makes the organizational structures of these professionals similar.
Some of the differences that apply to the teachers and nurses’ organizational culture include the fact that their environments are fundamentally different. Teachers work in a relaxed environment while operating room nurses work under a tense and high-stakes environment (Barney, 2006). It is acceptable for teachers to ‘experiment’ with their subjects but the same practice would have devastating results for nurses in the operating room. Consequently, the activities of nurses are put under strict observation as opposed to the teaching actions of high school teachers. While teachers work under a relatively competitive culture, nurses do not encounter competition in their practice (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000). High school teachers are judged using the progress of their students and their performances in standardized tests. For instance, students’ performance in the SATs is a cause for competition among different high school teachers. However, nurses work under surgeons where the latter get all credit for patient progress (McDaniel & Stumpf, 2013). For instance, all the mistakes or the victories that occur in the operating room are attributed to the surgeons. The differences in these aspects of organizational culture mean that teachers are more apprehensive in their activities while nurses are often casual and mundane. This disposition might also contribute to differences in the levels of morale between high school teachers and operating room nurses.
The environments in high schools and operating rooms have various effects on these two organizational cultures. Most high schools are dominated by the need to strike a balance between the powers of students and their teachers. The freedom of students is also paramount in the organizational culture of high school students. This environment can motivate or demoralize the teachers. For instance, teachers are motivated to work in organizations where they have considerable power over the activities of students. On the other hand, nurses work under sensitive environments where small actions could translate into matters of life and death. This environment negatively influences the organizational culture of nurses. For example, a nurse can easily be blamed for a mistake that occurs in the operating room. However, it is rare for nurses to be commended for positive outcomes in the operating room. Nurses often feel victimized for making small mistakes in the operating room while surgeons take all the credit for their efforts.
Nurses would perform better as high school teachers because the difference in organizational culture between the two professions would motivate them. High school teachers are used to receiving direct compliments from students and parents. Also, good performance among students is most likely attributed to the efforts of the teachers while poor performance is often related to students’ laziness. However, in the operating room, good results are attributed to the efforts of surgeons. Furthermore, patients and their families often show their gratitude to surgeons and not nurses. Consequently, nurses would perform better within the organizational culture of high school teachers. On the other hand, teachers would perform poorly within the organizational culture of operating room nurses.
Organizational cultures have far-reaching effects on productivity and performance. Consequently, high school teachers and nurses work under different organizational cultures and this affects their performance. Both organizational cultures have similarities and differences including their collective missions and human resource management. Furthermore, the performances of teachers would diminish under the nursing organizational culture and vice versa.
Barney, J. B. (2006). Organizational culture: can it be a source of sustained competitive advantage?. Academy of management review, 11(3), 656-665.
Leithwood, K., & Jantzi, D. (2000). The effects of transformational leadership on organizational conditions and student engagement with school. Journal of Educational Administration, 38(2), 112-129.
McDaniel, C., & Stumpf, L. (2013). The organizational culture: Implications for nursing service. Journal of Nursing Administration, 23(4), 54-60.
Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. New York: John Wiley & Sons.