Org. culture LO13739

Ragnar S. Johansen (
27 May 1997 22:14:51 +0200

In reply to several postings on organizational culture.

I have allways percieved culture as the "fuzziest" concept in organization
theory. Definitions I have seen varies from theatrical/ritual to
historical/traditional to sociological/norms-values. To me it constitutes
a mix where tacit knowledge, informal processes, artifacts and
suboptimization are key properties, reflecting underlying norms/values or
simply habits.

Defining culture by studying, in example, a written vision statement seems
to me to be a contradiction in terms. One would be studying the "atempted
culture" instead of the "working culture. " In adition one would risk not
to detect powerfull subcultures by focusing on the asessment of the common

Surely these are not radical views, but they allow me to post a favourite

"In order to change culture, one needs to start by changing the artifacts"

The recognition of wich objects and actions are culturally significant,
and therebuy constitutes artifacts may be a key ability when trying to
utilize culture in a change process. Like marketers try to "tangilize"
intangible products, change agents need to tangilize cultural properties.

A norm of rewarding worker initiatives in old fashioned factories is an
example of a tough cultural property to build. Allthough you may adress
the issue explicitly to both middle management and workforce, chances are
people do what they have done before.

Investing in artifacts may help. The institution of a prize for the months
best worker initiative, for example. Regular meetings where number of
worker initiatives are charted alongside with economic results, etc.

Stil typing from the far nothern outpost of the western civilization:
Brumunddal, Norway, I wish y'all a warmer summer than we get!

Ragnar Johansen


"Ragnar S. Johansen" <>

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