The Importance of Culture in an Organization

Culture in an organization is very important. It is a contributing factor that can lead to the success or failure of a business. For example, the operations at the General Motors’ plant in California were struggling and production was below expectation. The plant had many conflicts amongst its workers and a high absenteeism rate. As a result, the plant was shut down. After a joint venture with Toyota, the plant reopened and the majority of the former workers were rehired. This time the plant were producing cars about half the time it took their other facilities to produce the same numbers of cars.

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It is believed one of the reasons for this successful turnaround was the improvement of the culture in their organization. The workers were maintaining their machines and ensuring the quality of their work. As a result, workers were more productive and the plant was successful. (Staw, pgs. 307-308) According to Wikipedia. org, “Culture generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. ” Culture is also referred to as, “a whole product of an individual, group or society of intelligent beings.

” (Wikipedia. org) Organizations are developed from these symbolic structures and consist of human activities. Culture also acts as a form of control system for the company. A control system is a way of monitoring the worker’s performance. For example, when a supervisor pays close attention to his workers, he can influence and ensure that everything is going according to plan. Culture is a form of a social control system that can be formed into a certain way. Caring about those we work with is a form of control whenever we are in their presence. (Staw, pg.

309) With social control, we often feel as though we have great autonomy, even though we are being somewhat manipulated to act and perform the way others wants us to act. Howard Schwartz and Stan Davis refer to culture as the central norms that may characterize an organization. (Staw, pg. 309) This would include the attitudes and behaviors that are acceptable within the organization. For instance, in most organizations it may be impolite to confront someone in front of a group of people. In this case, it is best to wait until you can confront that person privately.

But in other organizations, it is encouraged to confront that person immediately, even in front of others. Even though both companies have different styles or attitudes and beliefs, they each incorporate a culture that might be best suited for their company’s needs. (Staw, pgs. 308-310) Culture is important to an organization, as it can increase or maintain the employee’s loyalty and dedication to a company. In addition, culture can also affect the strategy that is implemented within the company.

For example, the three largest companies that distribute and manufacture technology are AMD, Intel, and National Semiconductor. Even though they all sell products in the same industry, they each have their own unique strategy and culture that influences the way they compete in the industry. AMD’s strategy is to offer good service and focus on the marketing and selling of a quality product. In addition, they respect their employees and value hard work, diversity, responsibility and embracing their success. (AMD) Intel focuses on being leaders in innovation and creativity.

They were one of the first companies to offer a health plan that allows the employees to manage their own expenses which gives the employees more responsibility. Responsibility is one thing that Intel values strongly. Also, Intel encourages their employees to participate in programs that are good for their community. Intel has chosen to create products that bring value to the world and to the communities around them. Intel’s culture and strategy are two factors that contribute to their success in the technology industry.

(Otellini) National Semiconductor focuses on selling cost leadership. They have a cost control that is stringent and culture that is more concerned about the numbers than anything else. Their strategy has a sense of brutality which is why they are called, “Animals of the valley. ” It takes the people, structure and culture for a strategy to be successful. But sometimes strategies in an organization change and when they do, their culture must also change. If a company has a strong culture, they may gain a competitive advantage over their competitors. (Staw, pgs. 312-314)