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Understanding Organizational Culture; A Case Study


Executive summary

Having a strong, cohesive organizational culture is perhaps the most important strategy that an organization can implement to cope with the current aggressive competition, declining economy and ever increasing internal challenges. This report shall set out to elaborate different concepts used to define, explain and justify organizational culture.

To this end, an overview of what culture entails shall be provided and benefits that an organization can accrue from adopting a strong culture outlined. Different theories and principles shall be used to recommend the best course of action that can be taken by BSG to address its behavioral and cultural issues.

Introduction

In today’s business environment, members of any given organization are expected to behave in a manner that enables them to achieve the set organizational goals and objectives. To ensure this is done, rules, regulations and guidelines are designed and implemented to act as a framework through which activities and operations can be carried out.

As a result of these frameworks, organizations develop practices, attitudes and norms that define how organizational practices are carried out. These practices, attitudes and norms form the organizational culture. Wilderom et al (2004), state that organizational cultures play a pivotal role in unifying and motivating employees to perform better, and commit to the organization. As such, it can be argued that by having a strong organizational culture, business entities can perform better and more efficiently.

Purpose of the report

In all organizations, there are internal and external factors that influence the ability of the organizations to perform efficiently. They include but are not limited to: leadership, management and motivational factors among others.

Regardless of the category, organizational culture seems to play an integral role in the determination of how members of an organization carry out their duties and responsibilities. In response to these undertones, this report shall set out to define and elaborate various concepts of organizational culture. In addition, the benefits of having an organizational culture shall be discussed and justifications for these benefits provided.

Scope of the report

De Long (1997) argues that organizations have different organizational cultures. Some may adopt a competitive culture, while others may choose a collaborative culture. It is therefore important to understand the culture that an organization has. This understanding can only be achieved by examining the values, practices and beliefs that are held by the members of the organization.

In this report, the cultural and behavioral characteristics of BSG Pty Ltd shall be analyzed. This shall be done by deducing these characteristics from the scenario given and identifying the cultural and behavioral issues that affect the organization’s success.

Background of the report

Over the past few years, the profitability of BSG Pty Ltd has been significantly declining against the expected projections mainly due to aggressive competition and economic hardships that characterize the market. In addition, results from a recently conducted cultural/employee attitude survey indicated that BSG Pty Ltd employees lack cohesion, motivation, commitment.

More importantly, employees at BSG Pty Ltd seems to have significantly low levels of job satisfaction, team work, trust (among themselves and the management), and expectations for future advancements (promotions and rewards).

On the same note, there was a 30% increase in pilfering of company resources as evidenced from the analysis of company data. The 15% increase in last year’s staff turnover is also an issue that needs to be addressed. In light of these issues, the C. E. O of BSG Pty Ltd strongly suggested that there is need for change if the company is to survive the current unforgiving market and economical trends.

This he attributed to the fact that the current culture adopted by the company was the root cause of the poor performance exhibited by the company. As such, this report has been necessitated by the need to identify, analyze and solve the cultural and behavioral issues that affect BSG Pty Ltd.

Sources and methods used in this report

Evidently, BSG Pty Ltd has numerous cultural and behavioral inadequacies as has been identified in the currently gathered information. We shall use this evidence as the basis of the report.

Relevant academic sources and concepts shall be used to analyze these issues and recommend viable solutions for the same. Literature related to theories, principles and models used to address the aforementioned cultural and behavioral issues shall be applied as necessary.

Organizational culture: A Literature Review

De Long (1997) defines culture as the values, norms and practices that are followed by members of a given organization. According to the author, values refer to the beliefs held by an organization in regard to the worthiness of what it does and has. Practices in this context are associated to the routines (formal and non-formal) that organizational members follow to accomplish their tasks.

According to the author, norms are the shared belief that organizational members’ have regarding proper working behavior (De Long, 1997). From this definition, it can be argued that organizational culture is rooted in how people act, their expectations to each other and how they interpret the actions of others in an organizational setting.

On the same note, organizational culture has been defined as particular practices carried out by organizations that evolved over time (Kostova, 1999; Wilderom, 2004).

These practices reveal the competence and shared knowledge in an organization. In this context, organizational culture can be described as the shared perception that members have in regard to the correct or wrong organizational work practices. Such practices may differ from one organization to another.

From the definitions stated above, it is evident that values play a significant role in defining culture. This is further accentuated by Hibbard (1998) who defines culture as a set of beliefs and values that are strongly shared by members of a given organization. Despite the logic behind Hibbard’s (1998) definition, research conducted by other scholars presents a strong case against this criterion.

Wilderom et al (2004) argue that the greatest disparities between organizations are strongly based on practices than they are on values. The authors reaffirm this fact by stating that the cultural difference exhibited by different organization is deeply rooted in the organizational work practices that are adopted by the personnel.

These authors contend that values are constituents of practices. As such, using values as the basis of defining organizational culture creates a problem when it comes to measuring culture in an organizational context.

Cohesive culture: A Brief Overview

Cohesion broadly refers to collaboration and unity. Using the definition of culture proposed earlier, a cohesive culture can best be described as the work practices that promote unity and inter-departmental collaboration. They include but are not limited to knowledge sharing, trustworthiness, team work, effective communication and commitment among others (Luca, 2006).

Bolman and Deal (2008) state that a cohesive culture refers to harmony experienced in an organization as a result of clearly defined practices and values that are shared by an organization’s personnel. The authors argue that an organization that adopts a cohesive culture is bound to succeed. This means that a cohesive culture leads to success and it is not always the other way around.

Benefits of a strong, cohesive organizational culture

Bolman and Deal (2008) state that a strong culture is pivotal towards the promotion of team work in an organizational setting. When the members of an organization share the same values and practices, they are better placed to work together as a team. This is in contrary to a situation whereby employees compete against each other for recognition and personal gratification.

In addition, Palmer (2008) contends that team work is guaranteed by the presence of a vision. An organization envisioning harmony gives its employees a glimpse of what to expect from the organization and they judge the organization by the principles that govern it (Cartwright & Baldwin, 2007).

Similarly, Palmer (2008) asserts that a strong, cohesive organizational culture reassures employees of the better days ahead. In addition to this, it provides meaning and a sense of belong to the followers and other stakeholders as they deem themselves as part of something greater.

An organizational culture inspires and motivates them to aim higher and employ extra effort so as to actualize the vision and make a significant difference in their own capacities. This in turn acts as a unifying factor and creates a sense of community between them. In addition to this, organizational cultures provide the followers with a theme of change or transformation.

This is important especially in cases where a seamless transition is desirable. At the same time, strong cultures also help followers to understand what is expected of them and this helps them make reforms and become more innovative.

Sharing similar practices and values also assist in developing and shaping the attitude of the organization. This is because a strong, cohesive culture, if embraced by all, develops a life of its own and becomes part of the organization. This improves interactivity between members and they develop common values and beliefs as they all set target towards a common goal.

Glisson (2007) further asserts that a strong organizational culture equips members with a referenced legal and ethical framework on how to actualize their goals.

For a vision to become reality there needs to be rules and regulations, which act as guidelines to all members. A strong, cohesive culture enables leaders to communicating these to the followers and smoothen the implementation process. This makes it easier to achieve the set goals and objectives because every member receives clear directives on how to go about actualizing a particular vision.

A strong, cohesive culture is not only desirable, but also essential to the success of the business for it is through it that organizational goals are met. As mentioned earlier, a strong culture enables leaders to support employees as they work towards achieving organizational goals.

As Webne-Behrman (2008) asserts, a strong culture enables leaders to evaluate employees’ ability to work as a problem solving and decision-making entity, all the while designing measures to counter undesirable behavioral traits that seem to inhibit the employees’ ability to perform as required.

Rivera-Vazquez (2010) further contends that the success of any organization depends mainly on the effectiveness and ability of the leader to inspire. This fact effectively underscores the importance of having a collaborative culture because a leader is deemed worthless if he lacks the backing and support of a team/group. It is therefore important that all leaders work towards cultivating and generating a strong, cohesive culture for their firms.

In most organization, only a fraction of the capability of the work force is utilized because leaders do not fully understand how best to motivate employees. Huszczo (2004) acknowledges that managers and leaders cannot gain much by coercing the employees to work harder.

Instead, an increase in productivity can be achieved if the leaders invest highly on retraining programs, ensure availability of essential resources, and provide motivational attributes like bonuses, promotions and even pay increments to act as incentives. Such interventions can only be discovered if leaders nurture a culture that considers how employees behave and react to certain positive or negative stimuli.

A strong, cohesive organizational culture ensures that organizations have a sense of purpose and are working towards the achievement of some organizational goals. It sets out to generate and sustain trust between the administration, employees and clients.

Usoro and Kuofie (2006) assert that this will result in the promotion of hope, knowledge sharing and confidence amongst the organizations worker force. These qualities heighten the levels of optimism within the organization all the while boosting employee’s morale and guarantees future success in all organizational endeavors.

Cultural Issues at BSG Pty Ltd

As mentioned in the background section, the profitability of BSG Pty Ltd has been significantly declining against the expected projections mainly due to aggressive competition and economic hardships that characterize the market. In addition, results from a recently conducted cultural/employee attitude survey indicated that BSG Pty Ltd employees lack cohesion, motivation, commitment.

More importantly, employees at BSG Pty Ltd seems to have significantly low levels of job satisfaction, team work, trust (among themselves and the management), and expectations for future advancements (promotions and rewards). On the same note, there was a 30% increase in pilfering of company resources as evidenced from the analysis of company data.

The 15% increase in last year’s staff turnover is also an issue that needs to be addressed. In light of these issues, the C. E. O of BSG Pty Ltd strongly suggested that there is need for change if the company is to survive the current unforgiving market and economical trends.

Addressing cultural issues at BSG

As has been elaborated in this report, culture has a significant influence on different aspects of a business. Palmer (2008) asserts that there is a strong relationship between culture and motivation, leadership, trust and team work. A strong cohesive culture promotes harmony.

For example, McKeown (2008) contends that a strong, cohesive culture fosters innovation. This means that an organization with this culture will work towards improving itself. Having such a culture at BSG will therefore motivate the employees and guarantee it a competitive advantage in these hard times. In addition, team work is mainly based on trust.

In an organization where employees are insecure of their jobs and have low levels of job satisfaction, team work is bound to lack. This is because they do not trust each other and they fear that sharing may result to their demise in terms of rewards or job position. However, a cohesive culture eliminates such fears and encourages employees to work together so as to achieve the set goals.

In BSG the factors that need to be addressed include job satisfaction and motivation. This is because these two factors determine how committed employees are to the organization. If the employees are strongly committed, then they can go past the issues of trust, pilfering and lack of team work.

These two key factors are best addressed by the two factor theory of motivation advanced by Frederick Herzberg. This theory suggests that job satisfaction has two dimensions. They include the hygienic factor, which refers to the working conditions, and the motivation factors which include work incentives (Griffin 2007, p.296).

With this in mind, leaders at BSG should ensure that they foster a culture that promotes hygiene. Hygiene in this case not only refers to clean working conditions but also good interpersonal skills, pay security and adequate supervision. On the other hand, motivation factors refer to achievement and recognition, advancement and growth. If BSG develops a culture that encompasses these factors, the company is bound to have a seamless transition geared towards success.

Development and maintenance of culture

Park, Ribiere and Schulte (2004) state that a strong organizational culture can be developed by applying motivational and managerial skills that aim at fostering teamwork and collaborative decision making. In this regard, an organization can implement group process strategies that encourage employees to work together towards attaining a common goal.

Webne-Behrman (2008) defines group process as the procedures implemented by member of an organization who are closely working together in a bid to come up with the best solutions to handle or solve a common problem.

The group process concept has been in existence for a long while and has proven to be an asset in numerous organizations when it comes to understanding how groups function in regard to problem-solving and decision-making processes.

In addition, Webne-Behrman (2008) asserts that group process enables group facilitators to come up with viable interventional measures that can be implemented to alter undesirable behavioral attributes that are inherent in a particular group. In this regard, the author suggests that group process can be viewed as behavioral patterns exhibited by members of a group as they collectively try to perform various organizational tasks.

In regard to maintaining an organizational culture, Rivera-Vazquez (2010) states that there are practices that can guarantee that employees keep the adopted culture burning. Some of the recommended strategies include team-building retreats and seminars, initiation rites and ceremonies and socialization surveys conducted regularly within the organization (Rivera-Vazquez, 2010).

These strategies facilitate the development and maintenance of organizational culture in the sense that employees are able to understand each others strengths and weaknesses and devise means of coping and improving the same.

Recommendations

To efficiently address the issues at BSG, the managers and leaders should implement motivational strategies as proposed by Griffin (2007). In additional, an ethical program dictating the codes of conduct should be developed and implemented. This code will act as a guideline through which the expected professional behavior can be monitored and evaluated. Similarly, programs that promote the development of the employees should be put in place.

Glisson (2007) states that training and retraining employees on proper conduct, knowledge sharing and the value of team work are among the key factors that enhance performance. In addition, developing a reward system is an effective motivation and commitment booster in an organizational setting.

Conclusion

Challenges are inherent in all organizations. How these challenges are handled determines whether an organization will succeed or fail. In this report, issues that affect BSG have been outlined and their impact on the organization’s success discussed. The issues in this company have resulted from a lack of a strong, cohesive organizational culture. To this end, the concept of organizational culture has been evaluated in regard to definition and benefits.

By using relevant literature, a discussion highlighting possible solutions has been provided. Recommendations as to how the company can develop and maintain a strong culture have also been outlined. If implemented, BSG will realize a monumental change in how its employees behave and perceive work. This will in turn help in restoring the company to its former glory; if not better.

References

Bolman, LG & Deal, TE, 2008, Reframing organizations: artistry, choice, and leadership, John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey.

Cartwright, T & Baldwin, D 2007, Communicating Your Vision, Center for Creative Leadership, New York.

De Long, D 1997, Building the knowledge-based organization: How culture drives knowledge Behaviors, Working paper, Ernst & Young’s Center for Business Innovation, Boston.

Glisson, C 2007, ‘Assessing and changing organizational culture and climate for effective services’, Research on Social Work Practice, vol. 17, no. 6, pp. 736-747.

Griffin, RW 2007, Fundamentals of management, Cengage Learning, New York.

Hibbard, J 1998, ‘Cultural breakthrough’, Information week, vol. 701, pp. 44-55.

Huszczo, G 2004, Tools for Team Leadership: Delivering the X-factor in Team Excellence, Davies-Black Publishing, Sydney.

Kostova, T 1999, ‘Transnational transfer of strategic organizational practices: A contextual perspective’, Academy of management review, vol. 24, pp. 308-324.

Luca, ML 2006, ‘The role of culture on knowledge transfer: the case of the multinational Corporation’, The Learning Organization, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 257-275.

McKeown, M 2008, The Truth About Innovation, Prentice Hall, London, UK.

Palmer,ER 2008, Ultimate leadership: winning execution strategies for your situation, Wharton School Publishing, USA.

Park, H, Ribiere, V, & Schulte. DW 2004, ‘Critical attributes of organizational culture that promote knowledge management technology implementation success’, Journal of Knowledge management, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 106-117.

Rivera-Vazquez, JC 2010, ‘Overcoming cultural barriers for innovation and knowledge Sharing’, Strategic Direction, no. 3, p. 26.

Usoro, A, & Kuofie, MHS 2006, ‘Conceptualization of cultural dimensions as a major influence on knowledge-sharing’, International Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 16-25.

Wilderom, C, Berg, DV, & Peter, T 2004, ‘Defining, Measuring, and Comparing Organizational Cultures’, Internal Association for Applied Psychology, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 570-582.

Webne-Behrman, H 2008, The Practice of Facilitation: Managing Group Process and Solving Problems, IAP, USA.

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