Evaluating organizational culture LO13705

Bob Williams (bobwill@actrix.gen.nz)
Fri, 23 May 1997 18:48:04 +1200

Replying to LO13673 --

At 8:35 PM -0400 21/5/97, David E. Birren

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




>Organizational analysis

David your framework looks interesting. Although I have some detailed
comments about some of your categories (eg your concept of "systems"
appears to be a "hard systems" rather than a "soft systems" one; processes
are not always repetative and so on), I would prefer to focus on the
overall level. So standing back and looking at the list as a whole, I
think you have something interesting. Please send me some more details.

I would like to make a few comments.

Firstly, I suggest that you look at the cultural framework developed by (I
think) the Cranfield Institute's Management School. I am not saying it is
better, but I think will generate some further insights for your model.

Their framework has the following categories :-

Organisational values
Power and control mechanisms
Leadership and role models
Symbols and language
Stories and myths

Secondly, there is the problem of distinguishing between those aspects of
the culture which are "espoused" and those which are "actual". Some time
ago, some colleagues and I developed a short workshop which explores this
a bit, and I can send you the workshop material as an email attachment (in
Word) if you like. It is far from perfect, so treat with caution.

Thirdly, developing a framework for evaluating culture is problematic,
because the evaluation literature tends to divide itself into two camps.
Large quantities of mud are slung across the barrier between them. There
are those who see the role of evaluation primarily as a means of helping
organisations improve themselves, their products or their programmes. For
those in the this camp there are some significant problems about what
actually constitutes an "improvement" of a culture, and the extent to
which we fully understand how to change cultures. There are those who see
evaluation primarily as a means of organisations judging the worth of
themselves, their products or their programmes. For this camp there are
some significant issues about whose judgement is being used to make
assessments of worth. These professional differences may seem arcane, but
in practice are quite profound, since one has an action orientation and
the other an insight orientation.

Finally there is the argument about whether these evaluative judgements
can only fairly be made from within the culture, or by those outside the
culture. (Internal or External Evaluation to use the jargon; and another
area of significant mud slinging). A colleague and I explored this a bit
in a paper to the International Evaluation Conference a couple of years
ago, mostly using the Argyris and Schon framework as a basis.

I don't know if this helps anyone, but I has given me a few new insights.



bobwill@actrix.gen.nz http://www.gil.com.au/comm/profcounsel/elogue.htm

So many questions, so little time.


Bob Williams <bobwill@actrix.gen.nz>

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