What is "Culture"? LO19981

John Gunkler (jgunkler@sprintmail.com)
Tue, 24 Nov 1998 17:40:58 -0600

Replying to LO19973 --

Sabine Bach asks:
>What is culture? how could you define culture. What do I have to >address
in order to change culture?

Organizational culture has been defined as : "The pattern of expected and
supported behavior that develops among two or more people when they
interact over time (and the things that are created to sustain and
transmit that pattern.)"

A key concept within this definition is that of a cultural norm: "A set
of behaviors that are widely and typically expected and sanctioned by the

Sanctioning includes "the behaviors and processes by which the group, or
its individual members, support and show their expectation of positive
norms and confront negative norms."

So much for definitions. Another way of describing an organization's
culture is that it is "a system of shared values (what is important) and
beliefs (how things 'work') that interacts with an organization's people,
organizational structures, and control systems to produce behavioral norms
('the way we do things around here.')"

You might see if you can find a copy of an article in Sloan Management
Review in the Spring of 1976 (Vol. 7, Number 3, pages 33-50) by Stanley
Silverzweig and Robert F. Allen entitled "Changing the Corporate Culture."

Another good reference (and there are lots of poor and even misleading
ones) is Part IV: Specific Methods for Changing Culture in "Gaining
Control of the Corporate Culture" by Ralph H. Kilmann, Mary Saxton, Roy
Serpa et al., Jossey-Bass, 1985 (ISBN: 0-87589-666-9)

When I get a little more time I'll pass along some things I've learned
over the years. Best of luck!

John W. Gunkler


"John Gunkler" <jgunkler@sprintmail.com>

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