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Leadership And Org Culture

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Abstract

Culture permeates all aspects of any society. It acts as the basic fabric that binds people together. Culture dictates tastes in music, clothes, and even the political and philosophical views of a group of people. Culture is not only shared, but it is deep and stable. However, culture does not exist simply as a societal phenomenon. Organizations, both large and small, adhere to a culture. Organizational culture determines how an organization operates and how its members frame events both inside and outside the organization. This paper explores the basic concepts of organizational culture. It describes what organizational culture is, its importance, how it is formed, various types of organizational cultures that exist and the role of leaders in influencing the organization culture.

Organizational Culture

A plethora of definitions exist for organizational culture. Various scholars define culture as how an organization goes about meeting its goals and missions, how an organization solves problems, or as a deeply rooted value that shapes the behavior of the individuals within the group. In reality organizational culture is all of these things. In its entirety organizational culture consists of an organization's shared values, symbols, behaviors, and assumptions. From an organizational perspective, the collective values and beliefs of the individual members of that organization represent a phenomenon called, "organizational culture". It constitutes a pattern of basic assumptions held by the people in the organization that it uses to address its problem of adaptation and integration (Schein and Edgar, 1990)/ Xenikou and Furnham (Xenikou, Anthena and Adrian Furnham, 1996) identified a number of factors related to organizational culture. Four of these factors can be seen as a type of organizational culture. Following is a discussion of these factors.

Openness to change/innovation culture types group the following concepts together: humanistic orientation, affiliation, achievement, self-actualization, task support, task innovation, and hands-on management (further defined as: managers should not just plan, but participate (Xenikou et al., 1996). An organization scoring high on this factor might be considered "friendly," and "open to change."

Task-oriented organizational culture types group the following concept together: being the best, innovation, attention to detail, quality orientation, profit orientation, and shared philosophy (Xenikou et al., 1996). The authors compare this to the "Kaisen" philosophy espoused by successful Japanese companies that stress caution, incremental improvement. An organization scoring high in this factor might be considered "task-oriented" versus "people-oriented."

Bureaucratic organizational culture types group the following concepts together: approval conventionality, dependence, avoidance, and [Lack of] personal freedom (Xenikou et al., 1996). The authors describe this culture as formal, with centralized decision Ð'-making. An organization scoring high on this factor might be considered "conservative" or "prudent".

Competition/Confrontation organizational culture types group the following concepts together: oppositional orientation, power, competition, and perfectionism (Xenikou et al., 1996). The authors describe this culture as one where perfection is the goal, and where individuals might tend to react negatively towards the ideas of others and/or resist new ideas. An organization scoring high on this factor might be considered a "perfectionist" organization, put negatively; one might call this organization a "dog-eat-dos" organization.

In any organization three levels exist. The first level is the individual. At this level the main thrust is to motivate the employee so that she will meet the wishes of her employer. The second level consists of the group where management focuses on relationships among employees and the formation of a group identity. The third level is the organization itself and the goal at this level is to create a smooth and efficiently running organization. In order for the goals of the third level to be met, the goals of the first two levels must be achieved first. If a worker is not properly motivated to carry out her tasks, or if a department is having trouble working together, then the organization as a whole will suffer.

Meeting the goals of the first two levels has become increasingly harder. In today's world of globalization, intense competition, and instant communication, change is constant, and the "IBM Man," a company lifer who began and ended his career with the same company, is a phenomenon of the past. Workers now scan the job market for the jobs that will put them in the best position to succeed both financially and professionally. With workers changing jobs so often, worker loyalty to an organization is vanishing (Sagini, 2001).

This makes organizational culture so important. Culture creates sustainability for an organization and acts as the most powerful force for cohesion. Organizations require stability in order to survive. Organizational culture can provide that stability by allowing people to communicate with each other, coordinate efforts, and define members from non-members (Sagini, 2001). Leadership plays an important role in shaping up a healthy organization culture.

The Influence of Leadership on Organizational Culture

Schein (1992) in particular described in details the significant roles of leadership in the creation and management of organizational culture throughout organizational growth; early life, midlife and maturity and decline. During the formation of organizations, leaders or founders have a major impact on how the early members of the organization define and solve their "external adaptation and internal integration problems". Since founders or leaders are usually entrepreneurs who have a high level of self-confidence and determination, they usually impose strong assumptions to their invented organizations. When their assumptions survive and successful in the business environment, the assumptions will be perceived as correct and eventually will be internalized as part of the organizational culture. Furthermore, founders or leaders tend to select other organizational members that have the similar assumptions

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