Organizational Culture and Its Functions
Just as individuals have personalities, so, too, do organizations. Individuals have relatively enduring and stable traits that help us predict their attitudes and behaviors. Organizations, like people, can be characterized as, for example, rigid, friendly, warm, innovative, or conservative. These traits, in turn can be used to predict attitudes and behaviors of the people within these organizations.
The culture of any organization, although it may be hard to measure precisely, nevertheless exists and is generally recognized by its employees. Organizations have cultures that govern how members behave. Organizational culture refers to a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations. It is a set of key characteristics that the organization values. There are seven primary characteristics that capture the essence of an organization's culture. They are: innovation and risk taking, attention to details, outcome orientation people orientation, team orientation, aggressiveness, and stability.
Culture performs a number of functions within an organization. First, it creates distinctions between one organization and others. Second, it conveys a sense of identity for organization members. Third, culture facilitates the generation of commitment to something larger than one's individual self-interest. Fourth, it enhances the stability of the social system. Finally, culture serves as a sensemaking and control mechanism that guides and shapes the attitudes and behaviors of employees.
The role of culture in influencing employee behaviors appears to be increasingly important in today's workplace. Who receives a job offer to join the organization, who is appraised as a high performer, and who gets a promotion are strongly influenced by the individual-organization “fit”.
1. How many characteristics does an organization's culture primarily contain? (1)
2. How many functions does the culture perform within an organization? (2)
3. What does the word “fit” in the last paragraph mean? (3)
4. What is the first function of organizational culture? (4)
A. To become the basis for shared understanding.
B. To distinguish one organization from another.
C. To capture the essence of an organization.
5. What is the third function of organizational culture? (5)
A. To help make employees more creative in their work.
B. To help make employees more obedient in their behaviors.
C. To help make employees more committed to the organization.
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