Evaluating organizational culture LO13673

Birren, David E (BirreD@mail01.dnr.state.wi.us)
Mon, 19 May 1997 13:58:24 -0500

I've recently developed an outline of a model for evaluating
organizational culture, and I'd be happy to get some constructive input on
it. The basic idea is that organizational culture begins with social
values and both creates and is supported by the various operational and
communication systems that exist in the organization. If someone has
already described culture in this way, I'd like to hear about it,
particularly the connection between relationship and processes, and the
interdependence of processes (systems) and values. In any case, critical
thinking and helpful suggestions are most welcome.

Thanks to anyone who cares to comment. I've developed this model into
some diagnostic questions, and would be happy to share them on request.


Hierarchy of Issues in an Organizational Culture/System Analysis
by David E. Birren, 5/13/97

The things that are important to us. They are described in the form of
vision statements and provide the underlying basis for culture.

Because cooperation is based on common purpose, there is an inherently
shared vision underlying our relationships (the basic tools of
cooperative activity). Extending this to communities, which form around
shared values, it is apparent that culture is a living statement of
shared vision.

An image of what we would like the current situation to be - an ideal
present or future state (what the world would be like if everyone shared
our values). Vision drives behavior (motivates people to act) and
creates conditions for (re)forming relationships.

The core element (currency) of community, and the building blocks of
organizational processes. There are four levels of relationships (in
order of interdependence): Networking, coordinating, cooperating, and

The means by which we engage in repetitive actions (make the world
predictable). Processes enable us to structure relationships, and they
coalesce into systems.

Connect processes and relationships; hold the culture together.

Organizational analysis
To deal with cultural issues, work on vision and values.
To deal with relationship issues, work on the culture and how it shapes
the roles of the participants (e.g., empowerment in organizations).
To deal with system development issues, work on integrating processes



David E. Birren
Organizational Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Ph: 608-267-2442, Fax: 608-267-3579

"Teach thy tongue to say 'I do not know' and thou shalt progress." -- Maimonides

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>