Perfect: An Integrative Dynamic Framework For Understanding And Managing Organizational Culture Change

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Integrative Dynamic Framework
Integrative Dynamic Framework

A critical approach towards an integrative dynamic framework for understanding and managing organizational culture change 

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UU-PSY704 – Organizational Culture Management

Assignment 1: Brief & Guidelines

A. Description

Type: Academic Essay

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Essay title: “A critical approach towards an integrative dynamic framework for understanding and managing organizational culture change”

The emergence of organizational culture may not be fully understood based on the assumption that the dominant values of an influential group of employees is what drives the prevailing type of culture within an organization. In this module, the concept of cultural dynamics was introduced in order to describe the ongoing processes involved in the way in which a system of values is transformed into a stable type of organizational culture. An integrative dynamic framework was recommended as an effective means of managing culture change and organizational effectiveness.

Integrative Dynamic Framework

In an academic essay format, identify the strengths and weaknesses of the recommended framework in terms of its capability to establish a new type of organizational culture. In your essay, you must focus on the following topics:

i. The dimensions of the concept of organizational culture which are relevant to the framework

ii. The contextual approach to organizational culture which appears to be most relevant to the framework

iii. An operational definition of organizational culture

iv. The role of the framework in helping us understand the relationship between culture and organizational performance and between culture and organizational culture management

v. The role of cultural dynamics and integrative cultural dynamics in organizational culture change

vi. The relationship between organizational culture change and organizational

effectiveness in the context of the integrative dynamic framework

vii. The role of transformational integrative leadership behaviour in enhancing organizational value

You are expected to follow faithfully the academic essay format, while utilising the APA

referencing system for your reference list. A minimum of 15 academic references must be used.

Furthermore, you are expected to support any arguments made with evidence from well-known

scientific journals or textbooks. It is preferable, yet optional, if you are able to collect some form of

data yourselves (primary data analysis). However, you are expected to utilise secondary data

provided in relevant research studies in such a way so to support key arguments and points raised in

your essay (secondary data analysis). This may involve either qualitative or quantitative data


analysis or a combination of the two (mixed data analysis). Normally, qualitative data analysis and quantitative data analysis are presented and discussed in a different way. You should be mindful of properly treating available data.

It is important to note that, while you are developing arguments or clarifying points, case studies or practical examples of specific organizations may be used to support such arguments. However, you should ensure that this is publicly-disseminated information included in reports, credible websites or organizational documents, which must be fully and properly referenced.

Integrative Dynamic Framework

Finally, you should aim to close your essay with clear policy recommendations associated with the ways in which modern organizations are capable of managing organizational culture change effectively. For this reason, you must discuss indicators/outcomes, such as “performance”, “productivity”, “effectiveness”, “organizational value”, etc.

Word Limit: 3000 words (absolute max word count: 3500)

Assessment task: Part I; 50% of the final module mark

Online Submission: End of week 4 (Sunday)

Time: By 11:59 p.m. (23:59 hours) UTC time at the latest.

Important Note: If you miss the deadline, UNICAF rules on late submission/non-submission will come into effect.

B. Learning outcomes

Description of learning outcomes assessed:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the different contextual approaches to organizational

culture, i.e. sociological, anthropological and psychological approaches.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of the definition of the concept of organisational culture and its constituent elements, as well as the concept of organizational culture management.

3. Apply critical thinking in evaluating the role of culture in organizational life and, especially, in the way in which organizational culture influences vital organizational variables.

4. Critically describe and compare the different processes involved in cultural dynamics and organizational culture change.

5. Apply analytical and critical thinking in assessing the practical value of the recommended integrative dynamic framework for managing organizational culture change and organizational effectiveness.

6. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of leadership in organizational culture management in the context of the recommended integrative dynamic framework for organizational culture change.

Please note the learning outcomes assessed in this assignment corresponds to the learning outcomes (1) to (6) appeared in the “Module Specifications” document.


C. Additional academic information

1. A complete and consistent reference list and proper in-text citation using the APA referencing system are compulsory. Accurate referencing of scientific sources used is crucial for an academic essay. Please make sure you are fully familiar with the APA referencing system. Marks will be deducted for inaccurate referencing.

2. Theoretical evidence based on well-known scientific research should drive any arguments you want to develop.

3. The requested maximum word count is an important guideline and must be

respected. This, essentially, means that you should train yourselves to write concisely and succinctly.

4. Your assignment should be word processed; Times New Romans, Font size 12, 1.5 line spacing and numbered pages (the ‘title’ page of your essay should be numbered but the numbering should be hidden).

5. You are expected to follow the formal academic format of preparing an essay. Please find all information you need about the widely-known academic format of essay writing before starting to prepare your essay. This consists of a number of sections including an introductory and closing sections (‘introduction’, ‘conclusions’). In the ‘introduction’, you should ‘set-the-scene’, i.e. present the primary aim of your essay, your objectives, the approach you will follow, the types of data you will utilise and, finally, briefly describe the content of the sections that follow. In the ‘conclusions’, you are expected to ‘connect- the-dots” between the different arguments developed in the essay, explain how your work addressed the primary aim and objectives of your essay in combination with the seven requested topics, i.e. points (i) to (vii) above and, finally, summarise the findings of your work. You are not expected to comment on how your work satisfies the set of ‘learning outcomes’, as described above, but if you feel this could improve the quality of your ‘conclusions’, you are free to do so. The overall number of sections depends solely on your approach and the material you aim to present. However, you are expected to briefly review relevant literature and address each and every point requested above. You are encouraged to use ‘sub-sections’, if you feel they will improve the structure of your essay. You have a degree of freedom in the way you want to title the sections in the main body of your essay, but you must ensure that there is a logical sequence in the presentation in order to strengthen readability. Your reference list should form the final section of your essay.

Integrative Dynamic Framework

6. Please note that ‘tables’, ‘graphs’ and ‘diagrams’ are very helpful in an academic essay because they help improve comprehension. Those must be inserted within the main body of your essay, but they are not calculated in the final word count. The same stands for any ‘appendices’ you may want to use and the reference list. Please note, it is not appropriate to include important material in an appendix. Only additional analysis, more advanced evidence or further discussion may be used to form an appendix.

7. You are expected to submit your essay using the Sumbission Link located in the suitable

‘Assignment Point’ in the description of the weekly material. Your submission will take place via turnitin. Therefore, please make sure you are aware of plagiarism and academic


misconduct regulations provided by UNICAF. Please note, you are responsible to ensure you are fully informed about such important regulations.

8. Finally, as part of your commitment to maintaining confidentiality, anonymity and privacy in any data utilised, it is important that you only use published data and information. You may use the actual name of an organization, if it has become known by the communication media or formal/informal publications. Please avoid using names of individuals, unless those names appear in the public sphere (for example, the name of an organisation’s CEO). If you aim to include primary data in your work, you must ensure that an informed consent is going to be obtained by all study participants and all ethics-related issues will be addressed and be properly reported within the essay.

D. Procedural information

• This is an individual assignment. It is not group work.

• Relevant literature refers only to valid, credible, widely-accepted academic literature based on scientific peer-reviewed journals, textbooks and monographs.

• The word count is 3000 words. There is always a degree of flexibility in the word count, which is up to +/- 10%. This means that a final word count of 2700 or 3300 words will be accepted. However, if you choose to utilize the maximum possible word count, i.e. 3500 words, there is no flexibility to go beyond that number.

• The marking of your assignment is anonymous. For this reason, please do not include your name on the assignment cover sheet; you may only use your student number for identification purposes.

• You are expected to be fully informed and familiarized with late submission and extension for late submission request procedures. Please familiarise yourselves with such regulations. Last minute accidents involving data loss, corrupted files, faulty laptops and so on can be avoided by backing up your work regularly.

• Please note that your tutor is not expected to pre-assess an early draft of your assignment. However, brief comments and feedback may be requested on short sections or if you need general guidance about the structure and overall presentation of your work.

• The feedback is expected to enable you to acknowledge mistakes and weak points, which may help you further develop your learning capability in the future.

E. Marking criteria

Assessment element Marking Weight


Presentation (General Presentation and APA referencing system) 10

Essay content, descriptive, analytical and critical analysis, brief

review of the literature, satisfaction of main aim and objectives, as well as learning outcomes. 50

Essay structure and organization, information synthesis, coherence

of arguments and consistency of information/evidence presented. 30

Formal language for academic writing, clarity, accuracy,

information synthesis and punctuation 10

International Journal of Business and Management July, 2009


A Review of Study on the Competing Values Framework

Tianyuan Yu

Institute of Enterprise Management, School of Business, Sun Yat-Sen University

International Finance College, Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai Campus

Jin Feng Lu, Tangjiawan, Zhuhai 519085, China

Tel: 86-756-6126-600 E-mail:

Nengquan Wu

Institute of Enterprise Management, School of Business, Sun Yat-Sen University

135Xin Gang Xi Lu, Guangzhou 510275, China

Tel: 86-20-8411-4155 E-mail:


The Competing Values Framework (CVF) is one of the most influential and extensively used models in the area of organizational culture research. Compared with other models and scales, the CVF and its matched scale OCAI have better validity and reliability in the context of China, and are very convenient for practical operations. This article firstly introduces the development of the CVF, and discusses the meanings and prerequisites of different culture types in the CVF. Then the article briefly reviews some empirical studies using the CVF and OCAI, compares the CVF and OCAI with other major organizational culture models and scales, and finally points out future research areas for CVF’s application in China.

Keywords: Competing values framework, Organizational culture, Effectiveness

1. The development of the CVF

The Competing Values Framework (CVF) was initially based on research to identify indicators of organizational effectiveness (Quinn and Rohrbaugh, 1983, p.363). Effectiveness is a central theme in the organizational literature whereas its definition is perennially controversial. In a literature review Campbell (1977) identified 30 different criteria of effectiveness. Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983, p.365) held that the choices of particular criteria usually reflect personal values about the appropriate emphases in the domain of effectiveness. They invited 52 organizational researchers to order the criteria listed by Campbell (1977) and then derived three value dimensions: internal-external, control-flexibility, means-ends. They integrated the third dimension into the other two ones and established the CVF, as shown in Figure 1(Quinn and Rohrbaugh, 1983, p.369).

One may certainly argue that it is insufficient to measure organizational culture values by only two or three dimensions. But CVF does not attempt to explore the panorama of organizational culture. Rather, it looks at the value dimensions related to effectiveness. Moreover, this model can integrate most organizational culture dimensions proposed in the literature.

2. The connotations of the CVF

2.1 The meanings of dimensions in the CVF

Figure 1 illustrates the CVF. The first value dimension is related to organizational focus, from an internal, micro emphasis on the well-being and development of people in the organization to an external, macro emphasis on the well-being and development of the organization itself. The second value dimension is related to organizational structure, from an emphasis on stability to an emphasis on flexibility. Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983, p.370) pointed out that these two sets of competing values are recognized dilemmas in the organizational literature. For instance, Denison and Mishra’s (1995, p.209) case study illustrated that employee involvement activities can lapse into insularity and have a limited, or even negative impact on effectiveness, for the organization may overemphasize the internal integration and neglect the adaptation to the external environment. Similarly, the differing viewpoints in considering order and control versus innovation and change are at the heart of the most heated debates in sociology, political science, and psychology.

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While many social theorists have emphasized authority, structure, and coordination, others have stressed diversity, individual initiative, and organizational adaptability.

The two dimensions of the CVF classify four models, each one containing a different set of effectiveness criteria. Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983, p.371) named the four models as the human relations model, open system model, rational goal model, and internal process model, respectively. Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983, p.375) suggested that to ignore criteria in any of the models is to have only a partial view of performance. In the administrative world, an effective organization may need to perform well on all four sets of criteria. However, at any given time there are likely to be tradeoffs between the criteria.

Sjoberg(1967) noted that organizations are plagued by contradictory functional requirements that are associated with the formation of mutually antagonistic arrangement that function to meet these requirements. Quinn and Cameron (1983, p.376) furthered this argument. They expected that at certain thresholds, these conflicts might become particularly exaggerated, often resulting in major reconfigurations of the coalitional structure and the dominant perceptions of what is success. The authors believe that under such circumstances, there takes place organizational culture change.

2.2 The implications of the four organizational culture types in the CVF

The four effectiveness criteria models in the CVF are also called four organizational culture types. Based on former organizational culture studies in the literature, Cameron and Quinn (2006, p.28) termed the four culture types as Clan, Adhocracy, Market, and Hierarchy, respectively. The implications of each culture type are summarized as follows (Cameron and Quinn, 2006, p.29-35):

2.2.1 The clan culture

The clan culture is full of shared values and common goals, an atmosphere of collectivity and mutual help, and an emphasis on empowerment and employee evolvement. The authors contend that the clan culture is just the organizational culture defined by Wilkins and Ouchi (1983, p.472-474), which can be developed under certain conditions such as a relatively long history and stable membership, absence of institutional alternatives, thick interactions among members, etc.

2.2.2 The adhocracy culture

The adhocracy culture is like a temporary institution, which is dismissed whenever the organizational tasks are ended, and reloaded rapidly whenever new tasks emerge. The adhocracy culture is often found in such industries as filming, consulting, space flight, and software development, etc.

2.2.3 The market culture

The market culture focuses on the transactions with the environment outside the organization instead of on the internal management. The organizational goal is to earn profits through market competition. This concept originates from Ouchi’s (1979, 1984) study on the market control system.

2.2.4 The hierarchy culture

The hierarchy culture has a clear organizational structure, standardized rules and procedures, strict control, and well defined responsibilities. This concept can be traced to the image of “bureaucracy” in Weber’s (1947) early works on modern organizational management.

3. Prerequisite conditions of different culture types in the CVF

3.1 Relationships between organizational culture types and control mechanisms

Ouchi (1979) described three fundamentally different mechanisms through which organizations can cope with the problem of evaluation and control. The three were referred to as market, bureaucracy, and clan. In another research, using an ethnographic paradigm, Ouchi defined the extension of organizational culture within the concept of clan and drew attention to organizational features of “clans” (Wilkins and Ouchi, 1983). The authors term the clan mechanism as a narrowly defined organizational culture. In the authors’ view, the CVF entirely covers the three control mechanisms mentioned above, and studies the generalizable organizational characteristics which are determined by such factors as task natures, industries, market environments, organizational structures, and control mechanisms, etc. Therefore, the authors term the four culture types in the CVF as the broadly defined organizational culture. Ouchi (1979, p.837-840) discussed the social and informational prerequisite conditions of each of the three control mechanisms (culture types).

3.1.1 The market mechanism

In a market mechanism, prices convey all of the information necessary for efficient decision-making. Given a frictionless price mechanism, the firm can simply reward each employee in direct proportion to his contribution. Such a mechanism requires a powerful information system (including accountants, computer experts, etc.) to price the labor or evaluate their performance.

International Journal of Business and Management July, 2009


3.1.2 The clan mechanism

When the transaction cost of pricing the labor is too high or when it is impossible to evaluate the performance (for example, the work with high degree of complexity or uncertainty), the organization has to adopt the clan mechanism. The clan mechanism demands a high organizational commitment which is obtained through internal socialization.

3.1.3 The bureaucratic mechanism

If the price requirements of a Market cannot be met and if the social conditions of the Clan are impossible to achieve, the Bureaucratic mechanism becomes the preferred method of control. Its features include close supervision by the superior and detailed rules and procedures, etc.

Ouchi (1979) argued that due to the high rates of turnover and a high degree of heterogeneity in modern society, the bureaucratic and market mechanisms become dominant. On the other hand, with the increasing interdependency and vagueness of technology, it gets more and more difficult to evaluate performance, forcing the organization to adopt the clan mechanism. Indeed, Ouchi (1984, p.202) contended that no single mechanism would control an organization; a large organization cannot succeed without a combination of teamwork and competition. This argument is consistent with Cameron and Quinn’s (2006) view on the patterns of existence of the four culture types in the CVF.

3.2 Relationships between organizational culture types and organizational life cycles

There are close relationships between stages of development in organizational life cycles and the four culture types in the CVF. Quinn and Cameron (1983) reviewed nine models of organizational life cycles that had been proposed in the literature and derived a summary model of life cycle stages that integrates each of the nine models. This summary life cycle model includes four stages: entrepreneurial stage, collectivity stage, formalization and control stage, and elaboration of structure stage. Based on certain characteristics that typify organizations in different stages of development, they hypothesized that certain criteria of effectiveness in the CVF are important in particular life cycle stages but not in others. They also concluded that major criteria of effectiveness (thus with major organizational culture types – the authors) change in predictable ways as organizations develop through their life cycles.

In the entrepreneurial stage – typified by innovation, creativity, and the marshalling of resources – the strongest culture type appears to be the adhocracy culture. Organizations in the collectivity stage appear to be characterized by informal communication and structure, a sense of family and cooperativeness among members, high member commitment, and personalized leadership, which are associated with the clan culture. In the formalization stage, organizational stability, efficiency of production, rules and procedures, and conservative trends typify organizations. Culture types appear to be primarily the hierarchy culture and the market culture. In the fourth stage, elaboration of structure, the organization monitors the external environment in order to renew itself or expand its domain. The adhocracy culture seems to receive the most emphasis in this stage. A longitudinal case study made by Quinn and Cameron (1983) provided some evidence to support the hypothesized relationships between life cycle stages and culture types, which demonstrated the potential of the model in diagnosing and predicting organizational culture change.

4. Empirical studies using the CVF and OCAI

Based on the CVF, Cameron and Quinn (1999, 2006) developed a matched scale, the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI, including 24 items). Nowadays, as Kwan and Walker (2004) noted, the CVF has become the dominant model in the quantitative research on organizational culture. Numerous empirical studies have been published testing the validity and reliability of the CVF and OCAI.

4.1 Studies testing the validity and reliability of the CVF and OCAI

Howard (1998) used a sample drawn from 10 U.S. organizations to test the validity of the CVF. A Q-sort and multidimensional scaling analysis produced qualified support for a structure of organizational culture values consistent with the CVF. Lamond (2003) presented the results of a study of 462 managers’ perceptions of their organizations and concluded that the CVF is a useful measure in an Australian context. It is noteworthy that Denison and Mishra (1995) used case studies and survey data to explore the relationship between organizational culture and effectiveness. The results provided evidence for the existence of four cultural traits in the Theoretical Model of Culture Traits. The dimensions and implications of the Theoretical Model of Culture Traits coincided with their counterparts in the CVF, thus validated the CVF as a powerful measure of organizational culture. Denison and Mishra’s (1995:218-219) quantitative research also confirmed the relationship between organizational effectiveness and the four culture types in the CVF. Yet the Theoretical Model of Culture Traits is more complex than the CVF, and its sub dimensions have been challenged by some researchers (e.g., Wang, et. al., 2006).

4.2 Studies on the relationships between organizational culture and other variables

There has been extensive international research using the CVF to investigate the influence of organizational culture on organizational change initiatives and performance. For example, many published studies that deal with the implementation of total quality management (TQM) almost exclusively acknowledge the importance of cultural factors

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on the success or failure of the venture. Sousa-Poza et. al. (2001) explored the impact of cross-cultural differences on the implementation of TQM. Using the CVF to measure organizational culture, they found that in different regions (USA, Switzerland and South Africa), several distinct relationships between the dimensions of the CVF and TQM implementation exist. Al-Khalifa and Aspinwall (2001) investigated the relationship between organizational culture and TQM implementation in one of the Arab countries, Qatar. The results indicated that many organizations in the country were not characterized by just one culture type, but a mix of two, which did not match the cultural profile characteristics that support TQM. Their assessment of the current organization culture profile, using the CVF, highlighted where changes are needed to support a total quality approach.

The CVF are also used to examine the relationships between organizational culture and other key organizational variables, such as job satisfaction. Lund (2003) looked at the impact of organizational culture types on job satisfaction in a survey of marketing professionals in a cross-section of firms in the USA. The CVF was utilized as the conceptual framework for analysis. The results indicated that job satisfaction was positively related to clan and adhocracy cultures, and negatively related to market and hierarchy cultures. All these empirical studies have validated the CVF as a powerful instrument to assess organizational culture.

4.3 Empirical studies using the CVF and OCAI in the context of China

To date, the CVF have been extensively applied in the context of China. For example, Deshpande and Farley (2004) compared the impact of organizational culture on firm performance across several Asian countries, including China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Kwan and Walker (2004) attempted to demonstrate that the CVF can be used not only to represent the culture of an organization but also to serve as a basis upon which one organization can be differentiated from others. Their empirical study in Hong Kong successfully confirmed the validity of the CVF as a tool in differentiating organizations on the basis of the four culture types. Ralston et. al. (2006) raised the question and provided empirical evidence regarding the status of the evolution of the state-owned enterprises in China today. They compared the state-owned enterprises to domestic private-owned enterprises and foreign-controlled businesses in the context of their organizational cultures. The results of their research partially support their hypothesis that the state-owned enterprises of today have substantially transformed to approximate a configuration desired by the Chinese government when it began the transformation a couple of decades ago to make them globally competitive. These empirical studies all tested the validity and reliability of the CVF and OCAI in the Chinese context.

5. A comparison of CVF/OCAI to other major organizational culture models /scales

There remains considerable debate regarding the measurement and dimensions of organizational culture (e.g., Detert et. al., 2000). Even so, Detert et. al. s (2000) integrative review of the literature identified eight common dimensions of organizational culture: the basis of truth and rationality in the organization, the nature of time and time horizon, motivation, stability vs. change/innovation, orientation to work/coworkers, isolation vs. collaboration, control vs. autonomy, and internal vs. external. To date, researchers have developed a variety of models and scales to measure organizational culture. Primary among these, besides the CVF and OCAI, are: the Theoretical Model of Culture Traits (Denison and Mishra, 1995), which is conceptually similar to the CVF, and its matched scale, the Organizational Culture Survey, including 6 items; the Organization Culture Inventory (Cooke and Rousseau, 1988), including 3 dimensions and 120 items; the Organizational Culture Profile (O’Reilly, Chatman and Caldwell, 1991), including 7 dimensions and 54 items; the Multidimensional Model of Organizational Cultures (Hofstede et. al., 1990), including 6 dimensions and 135 items; Values in Organizational Culture Scale (Zheng, 1990), including 9 dimensions.

Compared with the above models and scales, the CVF and its matched scale OCAI have the following advantages:

(1) Few dimensions but broad implications: The CVF includes only two dimensions whereas incorporates the essence of the eight commonly accepted dimensions mentioned above into its structure (Ralston et. al., 2006). The two dimensions of control vs. autonomy and internal vs. external are directly included in the CVF. Furthermore, three dimensions (stability vs. change; orientation to work/coworkers; isolation vs. collaboration) are explicitly combined in the theoretical model. In addition, the model also addresses, in principle, the other three organizational culture dimensions.

(2) Empirically validated in cross-cultural research: A large amount of empirical studies have established the reliability and validity of the CVF and OCAI (e.g., Howard, 1998; Ralston et. al., 2006).

(3) Most extensively applied in the context of China: Of the various organizational culture models, the CVF is the only one that has been extensively used with Chinese and Asian samples (e.g., Deshpande and Farley, 2004; Kwan and Walker, 2004).

(4) Most succinct: The questionnaire of OCAI includes only 24 items thus are very convenient for practical operations.

In summing up the study on the CVF, the authors conclude that the CVF and its matched scale OCAI are very suitable for quantitative research in a Chinese context, especially for studies on organizational culture change and on

International Journal of Business and Management July, 2009


identification of culture types related to organizational effectiveness. The CVF can also be used as a conceptual model to do some qualitative research to explore the reason and process of organizational culture change. In addition, it is a promising research field to study the prerequisite conditions of different culture types in the CVF and the relationships between organizational culture and other variables such as organizational effectiveness, employee satisfaction, etc. in the context of China. One may also expect to make a contribution towards modifying the CVF by doing such empirical studies.


Al-Khalifa, K. N. and E. M. Aspinwall. (2001). Using the Competing Values Framework to Investigate the Culture of Qatar Industries. Total Quality Management, 12(4), 417-428.

Cameron, K. and R. E. Quinn. (2006). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework. Beijing: China Renmin University Press.

Cooke, R. and D. Rousseau. (1988). Behavioral Norms and Expectations: A Quantitative Approach to the Assessment of Organizational Culture. Group and Organizational Studies, 13, 245-273.

Denison, D. R. and A. K. Mishra. (1995). Toward a Theory of Organizational Culture and Effectiveness. Organization Science, 6(2), 204-223.

Deshpande, R. and J. U. Farley. (2004). Organizational Culture, Market Orientation, Innovativeness, and Firm Performance: An International Research Odyssey. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 12(1), 3-22.

Detert, J. R., R. G. Schroeder, et. al. (2000). A Framework for Linking Culture and Improvement Initiatives in Organizations. The Academy of Management Review, 25(4), 850-863.

Hofstede, G., B. Neuijen, et. al. (1990). Measuring Organizational Cultures: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study across Twenty Cases. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(2), 286-316.

Howard, L. W. (1998). Validating the Competing Values Model as a Representation of Organizational Cultures. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 6(3), 231-250.

Kwan, P. and A. Walker. (2004). Validating the Competing Values Model as a Representation of Organizational Culture through Inter-Institutional Comparisons. Organizational Analysis, 12(1), 21-39.

Lamond, D. (2003). The Value of Quinn’s Competing Values Model in an Australian Context. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 18(1/2), 46-59.

Lund, D. B. (2003). Organizational Culture and Job Satisfaction. Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, 18(3), 219-236.

O’Reilly, C., J. Chatman, et. al. (1991). People and Organizational Culture: A Profile Comparison Approach to Assessing Person-Environment Fit. Academy of Management Journal, 34, 487-516.

Ouchi, W. G. (1979). A Conceptual Framework for the Design of Organizational Control Mechanisms. Management Science, 25(9), 833.

Ouchi, W. G. (1984). The M-Form Society: Lessons from Business Management. Human Resource Management, 23(2), 191-213.

Quinn, R. E. and J. Rohrbaugh. (1983). A Spatial Model of Effectiveness Criteria: Towards a Competing Values Approach to Organizational Analysis. Management Science, 29(3), 363-377.

Quinn, R. E. and K. S. Cameron. (1983). Organizational Life Cycles and Shifting Criteria of Effectiveness: Some Preliminary Evidence. Management Science, 29(1), 33-51.

Ralston, D. A., J. Terpstra-Tong, et. al. (2006). Today’s State-Owned Enterprises Of China: Are They Dying Dinosaurs Or Dynamic Dynamos? Strategic Management Journal, 27(9), 825-843.

Sousa-Poza, A., H. Nystrom, et. al. (2001). A Cross-Cultural Study of the Differing Effects of Corporate Culture on TQM in Three Countries. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 18(7), 744-761.

Wang, Guoshun et. al. (2006). A study on organizational culture model: based on the improvement of Denison’s model and an empirical study. China Soft Science magazine, 3, 145-150.

Wilkins, A. L. and W. G. Ouchi. (1983). Efficient Cultures: Exploring the Relationship between Culture and Organizational Performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 28(9): 468-481.

Zheng, Boxun. (1990). The Assessment of Organizational Culture Values. Chinese Journal of Psychology, 32, 31-49.

Vol. 4, No. 7 International Journal of Business and Management


Figure 1. Competing Values Framework (CVF)

Adapted from Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983, p.369)



Internal External

Human Relations Model (Clan) Open System Model (Adhocracy)

Internal Process Model (Hierarchy) Rational Goal Model (Market)

Means: Cohesion; morale

Ends: Human resource development

Means: Flexibility; readiness

Ends: Growth; resource acquisition

Means: Information management;


Ends: Stability; control

Means: Planning; goal setting

Ends: Productivity; efficiency

Australian Journal of Management & Organisational Behaviour, 3(2), 91-99 © L. Willcoxson & B. Millett


Lesley Willcoxson & Bruce Millett

ABSTRACT Culture is a term that is used regularly in workplace discussions. It is taken for granted that we understand what it means. The purpose of this paper is to identify and discuss some of the significant issues relating to the management of an organisation’s culture. As organisational cultures are born within the context of broader cultural contexts such as national or ethic groupings, the paper will commence by defining ‘culture’ in the wider social context. This definition will subsequently form the basis for discussion of definitions of organisational culture and the paradigms and perspectives that underpin these. The paper will then discuss the issue of whether there is one dominant culture that typifies an organisation, or whether an organisation is really a collection or sub-set of loosely bound group identities. Finally, the paper identifies some implications for the management of culture management and change. KEYWORDS Organisational culture, management, organisational change

INTRODUCTION Culture is a term that is used regularly in workplace discussions. It is taken for granted that we understand what it means. In their noted publication In Search of Excellence, Peters and Waterman (1982) drew a lot of attention to the importance of culture to achieving high levels of organisational effectiveness. This spawned many subsequent publications on how to manage organisational culture (eg. Deal & Kennedy 1982; Ott 1989; Bate 1994). If organisational culture is to be managed it helps first to be able to define it, for definitions of culture influence approaches to managing culture. Defining organisational culture is, however, not an easy task, for while there is general agreement about the components of culture as a broad construct, there is considerable disagreement about:

! what constitutes organisational culture, ! whether the culture of a given organisation can ever be adequately described, ! whether culture management can ever be truly effective and, if so, ! which management strategies are most likely to succeed.

Lesley Willcoxson (e-mail: is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business, University of Southern Queensland; Bruce Millett (e-mail: is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business, University of Southern Queensland. Bruce lectures in organisational change and development, organisational behaviour, and strategic management.

Australian Journal of Management & Organisational Behaviour Volume 3, No. 2 2000


Despite the claims of some authors, there are no simple or right answers to these questions and, as indicated previously, approaches to culture management are contingent upon the manager’s or change agent’s conception of organisational culture. The purpose of this paper is to identify and discuss some of the significant issues relating to the management of an organisation’s culture. As organisational cultures are born within the context of broader cultural contexts such as national or ethic groupings, the paper will commence by defining ‘culture’ in the wider social context. This definition will subsequently form the basis for discussion of definitions of organisational culture and the paradigms and perspectives that underpin these. The paper will then discuss the issue of whether there is one dominant culture that typifies an organisation, or whether an organisation is really a collection or sub-set of loosely bound group identities. Finally, the paper identifies some implications for the management of culture management and change. CULTURE IN A BROADER SOCIAL CONTEXT In its very broadest sense, culture serves to delineate different groupings of people on the basis of the extent to which each group is perceived and perceives itself to share similar ways of seeing and interacting with the animate, inanimate and spiritual world (Benedict 1934; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck 1961; Trompenaars 1993). Australian culture, for example, may thus arguably be described as more similar to that of the United States of America than to that of Malaysia. Cultures are based in history, developing over time as groups establish patterns of behaviour and belief that seem effective in helping them to interpret and interact with the world in which they find themselves. Australian ‘mateship’ behaviour, for example, served early male white settlers in a harsh and sparsely populated world much better than the maintenance of the hierarchical class distinctions typical of the world from which they had come. From such new, adaptive patterns of behaviour arise new beliefs, such as a belief in egalitarianism. These new behaviours, values and beliefs, together with the associated rituals, myths and symbols that arise to support them, combine over time to establish and then to reinforce the core assumptions of the culture. In addition to providing implicit guidelines for behaviour and the channelling of emotion (Trice & Beyer 1993), cultures serve to give people a sense of belonging through collective identity and thus break down the intrinsic isolation of the individual. It is also important to realise that culture can also define differences between groups. Culture identifies particular groups by their similarities as well as their differences. Although cultures are dynamic to the extent that changed circumstances can lead to the incorporation of new patterns of behaviour or ideologies, typically these are overlaid on existing core assumptions and thus a culture may exhibit what seem to be complex ambiguities or paradoxes (Trice & Beyer 1993) until such time new behavioural adaptations to the environment give rise to a new belief system and set of core assumptions. This can be clearly seen in the case of egalitarianism, a value that is probably associated with a core assumption that life should be lived cooperatively, rather than competitively. While most Australians continue to proclaim egalitarianism as an Australian value, under the changed circumstances of greater urbanisation

The Management of Organisational Culture Willcoxson & Millett


and commercialisation of labour, they also now display enthusiasm for job or salary-related status which tends to be associated with competitive behaviour. It may be that over time, as behaviours and values move towards competitiveness, deeply held assumptions about the viability of cooperative relationships will also shift to emphasise the greater viability of competitive relationships. DEFINING ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE Like wider delineations such as national culture, an organisational culture may be generally described as a set of norms, beliefs, principles and ways of behaving that together give each organisation a distinctive character (Brown 1995). Like national cultures, organisational cultures form and are transformed over time. There is broad agreement amongst writers that around the time of its inception, an organisation responds to and reflects industry characteristics such as the competitive environment and customer requirements, together with the wider community values held by its employees, and also the values and behaviours of its founders or early leaders (eg. Schein 1985; Ott 1989; Gordon 1991). What may happen some years from the time of inception, however, is warmly debated, for at this point organisational culture writers and change agents divide into separate camps formed on the basis of distinct paradigms and perspectives. For writers and researchers who take an ‘anthropological’ stance, organisations are cultures (Bate 1994) describing something that an organisation is (Smircich 1983) and thus, like national cultures, an organisation comprises:

1. a pattern of shared basic assumptions, 2. invented, discovered, or developed by a given group, 3. as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, 4. that has worked well enough to be considered valid, and, therefore, 5. is to be taught to new members of the group as the 6. correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (Schein 1991, p.

247). In this paradigm, organisational culture is both defined and circumscribed by group parameters (e.g. language, concepts, boundaries, ideology) and by normative criteria that provides the basis for allocating status, power, authority, rewards, punishment, friendship and respect (Schein 1991). Culture determines what a group pays attention to and monitors in the external environment and how it responds to this environment. Thus, as Bate (1994) notes, for those who take an anthropological stance, organisational culture and organisational strategy are inextricably linked and interdependent. Culture, in this paradigm, is not a separable facet of an organisation, it is not readily manipulated or changed, and it is not created or maintained primarily by leaders. Over time, early leaders’ beliefs and behaviours are likely to be translated into assumptions that subsequently guide the organisation. Because these assumptions operate often at a sub-conscious level and come to be shared by all organisation members, they are not easily displaced by new organisational values and beliefs articulated by later leaders. Although the use of rewards or sanctions may prompt changes in an employee’s behaviour to bring it into line with new stated

Australian Journal of Management & Organisational Behaviour Volume 3, No. 2 2000


values, it is usually a long time before these changes influence the deep assumptions held by members entrenched in the culture. When researchers seek to investigate organisational culture using an anthropological paradigm, they tend to engage in ‘cultural audits’ which involve extensive observations of behaviour, interviews and examination of organisation documents and other artefacts. While the data collected is likely to provide a comprehensive overview of the distinct cultural features of a given organisation (albeit that these are usually derived by the researcher), the amount of material to be gathered and interpreted may render this method of organisational analysis time-consuming and unwieldy. For the writers described by Bate (1994) as ‘scientific rationalists’, organisational culture is but one aspect of the component parts of an organisation, a facet that can be measured, manipulated and changed as can organisational variables such as skills, strategy, structure, systems, style and staff (Peters & Waterman 1982). In this paradigm, organisational culture is primarily a set of values and beliefs articulated by leaders to guide the organisation, translated by managers and employees into appropriate behaviours and reinforced through rewards and sanctions. ‘Scientific rationalist’ writers thus tend to talk about culture as if it is a definable thing — the culture of the organisation; the organisation has a service culture — and their strategies for change focus on ‘modular, design-and-build activity’ often related to structures, procedures and rewards (Bate 1994, p. 11). They usually discuss organisational culture from the perspective of managers, rather than workers, and often emphasise the leader’s role in creating, maintaining or transforming culture: ‘leaders help to shape the culture. The culture helps to shape its members … culture, then, stands at the apex of the leader’s responsibility hierarchy’ (Hampden-Turner 1990, pp. 7, 9). In this paradigm, ‘organisational culture’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘corporate culture’ which Linstead & Grafton Small (1992, p. 333) describe as

the term used for a culture devised by management and transmitted, marketed, sold or imposed on the rest of the organization …; with both internal and external images … yet also including action and belief — the rites, rituals, stories, and values which are offered to organizational members as part of the seductive process of achieving membership and gaining commitment.

When investigation of deeper distinctive characteristics of a particular organisational culture is called for, researchers or consultants who subscribe to the scientific rationalist paradigm tend to use survey instruments (such as those used by Hofstede et al. 1990 and Hofstede 1991). These instruments bring to the surface factors which purport to be features of particular cultures, but which are in actuality a quantitative summary of individuals’ responses to questions about how they might behave in a limited set of situations which the researcher predicts will be useful for highlighting cultural differences. In other words, the researcher determines what scenarios or concepts should be used to describe the culture and then tests to see which of the scenarios or concepts are accepted by the majority of respondents as most relevant to a given culture.

The Management of Organisational Culture Willcoxson & Millett


ONE CULTURE OR MANY? The discussion so far has focussed upon organisational culture as if all organisations have one culture. But do they? Although some writers argue that organisational cultures are unitary and integrated, others argue for the existence of pluralism or differentiated sub-cultures in the one organisation, while yet others adopt a fragmented or anarchist perspective and claim that ‘consensus fails to coalesce on an organization-wide or subcultural basis, except in transient, issue-specific ways’ (Frost et al. 1991, p. 8). Again, as with the anthropological or scientific rationalist paradigm, there is no one demonstrably right perspective, but the perspective adopted will certainly influence the change strategies used and it may be that certain types of organisations are more likely to have a single, unitarist culture whereas others are more likely to be pluralistic or anarchistic in nature. Collins and Porras’ (1994, p. 8) study of visionary companies — Built to Last — provides a clear example of an anthropological paradigm combined with a unitarist perspective in its claim that:

a visionary company almost religiously preserves its core ideology — changing it seldom, if ever. Core values … form a rock-solid foundation and do not drift with the trends and fashions of the day.

A unitarist perspective also underpins various category descriptions of organisational culture. For example, Handy (1993) asserts that organisations exhibit either role, task, power or person- orientated cultures. Change agents or writers who take a unitarist perspective generally argue for change or maintenance of organisational culture through top-down leadership and organisation- wide systems and programs. From the unitarist perspective, the essential unity of the organisation makes it possible for the leader or leadership group to effectively control or alter organisational direction. This sort of top-down organisational control may conceivably occur in transnational companies, in which national or professional cultures arguably exert less influence, but many writers or change agents perceive in most organisations the existence of sub-cultures which militate against the effectiveness of top-down cultural leadership. Those who take a pluralist perspective and recognise the existence within organisations of diverse sub-cultures arising from factors such as professional affiliation, status, social or divisional interactions, argue that organisational success springs from the effective leadership and management of diversity, and that cultural change or maintenance efforts have to be undertaken through programs specifically designed for different segments of the organisation. International companies, with national subsidiaries tied to a parent company, often exhibit distinct cultures interacting with the parent company culture, but so also do many nationally-based companies where, for example, research and development divisions may form a sub-culture quite different from that of marketing divisions. Public sector healthcare organisations such as Queensland Health have long been subjected to cultural silos that have emerged from the development of powerful professional groups such as medical and nursing associations. Ogbonna & Wilkinson’s (1990) study of the effects of a supermarket cultural change program (from a cost-minimisation to a customer-service focus) further demonstrates that, in some

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organisations, not only do distinct sub-cultures exist (supermarket checkout operators vs managers), but that changes in training, rewards and structures may achieve change in the values of one group (the managers) and only superficial behavioural changes in the other group (the checkout operators). The checkout operators behaved in the way required but did this because they were required to do so, rather than because they had personally come to believe in the importance of better customer service. Even more fragmentation in organisational cultures than is evidenced in the supermarket example may result from recent changes in organisational configurations, such as the growth of project work, network organisations or strategic alliances in which individuals from across an organisation or from several separate organisations join together temporarily to undertake a specific task. In such instances, the transient and diverse nature of the work grouping is clearly unlikely to foster the formation of an organisation-wide culture or even a sub-culture. The anarchist perspective argues that in any case, all organisations are comprised of individuals who bring with them their own values and assumptions and thus there really can be no underlying cultural unity at any level except on a transient basis (Frost et al. 1991). Such fragmentation may be found even in traditionally structured firms for, in their study of twenty organisational cultures, Hofstede et al. (1990, p. 311) found:

shared perceptions of daily practices to be the core of an organization’s culture …. employee values differed more according to the demographic criteria of nationality, age, and education than according to membership in the organization per se.

The anarchist perception of organisational culture implies the impossibility of effecting cultural change through concerted change efforts, but it also highlights the centrality of effective communication and management of diversity if the loosely-coupled organisation is to remain functional and not break apart (Weick 1991). The question of whether there is one culture or many operating within the organisational context is an important issue for managing culture. Each of the three perspectives discussed above provide some valuable insights into addressing the question. IMPLICATIONS FOR CULTURE MANAGEMENT AND CHANGE There exist two basic approaches to culture and, by implication, strategy: conforming (maintaining order and continuity) and transforming (changing and breaking existing patterns) (Bate 1994). As demonstrated by the subsequent poor performance of many of Peters and Waterman’s (1982) so-called ‘excellent’ companies, the effectiveness of the chosen approach to organisational culture and strategy at any given time is dependent upon contextual factors relating to both the internal and the external environment (Bate 1994). Thus, context determines a culture needs to be maintained or changed, but the strategies adopted are very much determined by the paradigm and perspective subscribed to by the manager or change agent. In dealing with the management of organisational culture, it is firstly necessary to identify as fully as possible the attributes of the existing or new target culture — the myths, symbols, rituals, values and assumptions that underpin the culture. Subsequently, action can be instigated in any of

The Management of Organisational Culture Willcoxson & Millett


several key points of leverage (Allen 1985; Davis 1985; Trice & Beyer 1985; Kilman et al. 1986; Schneider & Rentsch 1988):

! recruitment, selection and replacement — culture management can be affected by ensuring that appointments strengthen the existing culture/s or support a culture shift; removal and replacement may be used to dramatically change the culture;

! socialisation — induction and subsequent development and training can provide for acculturation to an existing or new culture and also for improved interpersonal communication and teamwork, which is especially critical in fragmented organisational cultures;

! performance management/reward systems — can be used to highlight and encourage desired behaviours which may (or may not) in turn lead to changed values;

! leadership and modelling — by executives, managers, supervisors can reinforce or assist in the overturning of existing myths, symbols, behaviour and values, and demonstrates the universality and integrity of vision, mission or value statements;

! participation — of all organisation members in cultural reconstruction or maintenance activities and associated input, decision-making and development activities is essential if long-term change in values, and not just behaviours, is to be achieved;

! interpersonal communication — satisfying interpersonal relationships do much to support an existing organisational culture and integrate members into a culture; effective teamwork supports either change or development in and communication of culture; and

! structures, policies, procedures and allocation of resources — need to be congruent with organisational strategy and culture and objectives.

The above constitute a number of many strategies and leverage points that can be used in organisations to manipulate an organisation in terms of its overall culture and the sub-cultures that are contained within. The management of culture is based on a sophisticated understanding of the tacit and explicit aspects that make-up the existing culture. CONCLUSION What constitutes organisational culture and its perceived role in organisational success are contested, resting on perceptions of culture either as a historically-based, change-resistant, deep social system which underpins all organisational strategy and action, or as just one aspect of the total organisational system, manipulable though surface structures such as rewards. The paradigm adopted will determine which of the key points of leverage are deemed most likely to achieve the desired outcome of cultural maintenance or change. The perspective adopted will determine the focus of cultural change, development or maintenance activities, that is, whether they are to involve the whole organisation, identified sub-cultures, or small cells brought together for specific projects. There are no definitive answers to questions about the most appropriate way to change or maintain an organisational culture in order to provide for success or, indeed, whether change or maintenance is required in a given context — to answer these question is the essential challenge facing the strategic leader.

Australian Journal of Management & Organisational Behaviour Volume 3, No. 2 2000


INSTRUCTIONAL COMMENTARY From the above discussion, answer the following questions: 1. What definition of culture best reflects what you observe as going on in the organisations you

are familiar with? 2. Are the organisations you are familiar with more unitarist in terms of culture? Or pluralist? Or

anarchist? 3. Can you change organisational culture? 4. What particular strategies do you see as fundamental to changing culture? REFERENCES Allen, R. 1985, ‘Four Phases for Bringing About Cultural Change’, in Gaining Control of the

Corporate Culture, eds R. Kilmann, M. Saxton, R. Serpa, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Bate, S. 1994, Strategies for Cultural Change, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford.

Benedict, R. 1934, Patterns of Culture, Houghton Mifflin, Boston

Brown, A. 1995, Organisational Culture, Pitman Publishing, London.

Collins, J. & Porras, J. 1994, Built to Last, Century, London.

Davis, T. 1985, ‘Managing Culture at the Bottom’, in Gaining Control of the Corporate Culture, eds R. Kilmann, M. Saxton, R. Serpa, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Deal, T. E., & Kennedy, A. 1982 . Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

Frost, P., Moore, L., Reis Louis, M., Lundberg, C., & Martin, J. (eds) 1991, Reframing Organizational Culture, Sage, Newbury Park.

Gordon, G. 1991, ‘Industry Determinants of Organizational Culture’, Academy of Management Review, vol 16, no. 2. pp. 396-415.

Hampden-Turner, C. 1990, Creating Corporate Culture, Addison-Wesley, Massachusetts.

Handy, C. 1993, Understanding Organizations, Penguin, London.

Hofstede, G., Neuijen, B., Dval Ohayv, D. & Sanders, G. 1990, ‘Measuring Organizational Cultures: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study Across Twenty Cases’, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 35, pp 286-316.

Hofstede, G. 1991, Cultures and Organizations, McGraw-Hill, London.

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R. Kilmann, M. Saxton & R. Serpa, 1986, ‘Issues in Understanding and Changing Culture’, California Management Review, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 87-94.

Kluckhohn, C. & Strodtbeck, F. 1961, Variations in Value Orientations, Row Publishing, Illinois.

Linstead, S. & Grafton-Small, R. 1992, ‘On Reading Organizational Culture’, Organization Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, pp 331-55.

Ogbonna, E. & Wilkinson, B. 1990, ‘Corporate Strategy and Corporate Culture: The View from the Checkout’, Personnel Review, vol 19, no. 4., pp. 9-15.

Ott, J. S. 1989, The Organizational Culture Perspective, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, California.

Peters, T. & Waterman, R. 1982, In Search of Excellence, Harper & Row, Sydney.

Schneider, B. & Rentsch, J. 1988, ‘Managing Climates and Cultures: A Futures Perspective’, in Futures of Organizations, ed. J. Hage, Lexington Books, Massachusetts.

Smircich L. 1983, ‘Concepts of Culture and Organisational Analysis’ Administrative Science Quarterly, 28, 3, pp. 339-358.

Trice, H. & Beyer, J. 1993, The Cultures of Work Organizations, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Trice, H. & Beyer, J. 1985, ‘Using Six Organizational Rites to Change Culture’, in Gaining Control of the Corporate Culture, eds R. Kilmann, M. Saxton, R. Serpa, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Trompenaars, F. 1993, Riding the Waves of Culture, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London.

Weick, K. 1991, ‘The Vulnerable System: an Analysis of the Tenerife Air Disaster’, in Reframing Organizational Culture, eds P. Frost, L. Moore, M. Reis Louis, C. Lundberg & J. Martin, Sage, Newbury Park.

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