Organizational cultures are a set of unwritten laws shared among the employees of a firm to act in a commendable manner. Organizational culture is particularly crucial as it controls the behaviour of an organization. Organizational culture is viewed and practiced in different ways. Most cultures have been practiced since the incorporation of firms while others are designed in the course of firms’ operations in an effort to conform to best practices in both the internal and external environments (Pareek, 2004).
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The culture of an organization controls the employees of a firm. Organizational culture comprises ideologies, basic values and assumptions that provide direction and fashions the firm and personal behaviour (Punnett, 2004). Organizational culture can be viewed in three levels. The first level includes the organizational structure, technology and products, processes, dress code, company myths and the business language. The second level comprises of values and espoused beliefs, which have to be adopted by all employees. The third level includes the underlining basic assumptions, which only occurs when values and beliefs are treated as reality. This paper provides arguments to support the statement, ‘Organizational culture is a sophisticated method to control employees.’ It concentrates on the key components of the organizational culture including the organizational structure, values and beliefs.
- Organizational Culture as Employee Control Mechanism
Organization culture controls the behaviour of employees throughout their interaction with the company (Saunders & Lewis, 2003). Employees will be aware of these cultures in the course of their engagement with the firm. However, they may be informed of some of them during their orientation period. It is the different components that control employees while at the same time acting as unwritten sources of laws and regulation. This is through various ways as discussed below:
2.1 Theoretical Perspectives
2.1.1 Organizational Structure
The organization structure indicates the flow of power and shows an employee what is expected of him through job descriptions (Pech & Slade, 2007). The relationship chart outlines the hierarchy within the organization, which ensures that employees follow directions issued to them by those with the mandate (Lund, 2003). Otherwise, this would have been hard to achieve as every employee will be having an equal authority, and this may have disrupted the operations of a firm as non would be willing to take instructions from another. For instance, a technical manager will have authority over those under him while he is expected to follow instructions issued to him from senior management. What is more, the culture will force the employee to follow all the processes involved to achieve something including the firm’s products and services.
In addition, the organizational structure designates workplace formal reporting relations including the span of control of supervisors and managers, which control the flow of information among employees. A lack of a structure would create confusion in the workplace, as employees will not understand who is responsible for what (Li, 2004). Again, an organizational structure comprises of systems design that ensures integration of effort and coordination across departments without the need for formulating laws and regulations to ensure the same (Rashid, Sambasivan & Rahman, 2003). This indicates that culture controls the interactions among employees that lead to harmony in the workplace.
In addition, a well-outlined organizational structure indicates to the employees that there is an opportunity window for development and growth, which, in turn, controls the employees’ performance by keeping employees engaged and reducing boredom (Pareek, 2004). This is because each employee will be striving to grow and develop in his career path. Ford Motors has been forced to change its structure several times just to promote best performers in the workplace while motivating employees to work harder, which has since improved the company’s productivity (Savickas, 2001). The level of performance control because of organizational culture cannot be equated to control because of threatening company laws and regulations (Robbins, 2003). Thus, culture as unwritten laws offers a sophisticated mechanism to control employees.
- Values and Beliefs
Organizational culture in terms of beliefs and values can influence the behaviour of employees in a company. Through their continued interaction with the organization, employees will eventually internalizes values and beliefs, and this will bound them to comply with them as long as they are still engaged with the company (Punnett, 2004). Any incidence of noncompliance will create a guilty feeling within them. They are also motivated to work (Slade, 2003). For instance, United Airlines has cultivated a culture of honesty over the years; hence, its employees have internalized it, and will always feel guilty whenever they deviate from this value. Hence, the guilty effect prevents them from behaving in a manner inconsistent with their internalized belief and values. In terms of the espoused values, employees will always act in a way they belief everyone around them is acting to gain support and acceptance in the workplace (Mcewan, 2007).
What is more, organizational culture promotes ethical communication among employees and fosters close working relations. This is best practiced by Phillips Company as it advocates for respectful communication within the workplace (Li, 2004). That is, it restricts employees from using foul languages and development of enmity in the workplace. Ethical communication is crucial especially when dealing with customers. For instance, a firm whose customers realize that it is concerned more about the language used by its employees’ interaction may report any incident in case an employee employs unethical communication. Consequently, it controls the communication standards of employees.
Organizational culture in terms of attitudes and beliefs dictates the behavior and characteristics of employees in their day-to-day activities in the workplace (Robbins, 2003). Organization culture ensures that employees are not discriminated because of race, age and gender as it encourages peaceful coexistence among the staff in the firm. In addition, it serves to limit the incidences of workplace aggression and harassment as would be perpetrators are aware of the consequences if well seen in the culture (Lund, 2003). Nike Corporation has created an anti-harassment culture that controls and acts as a warning to employees with the habit, and, as a result, creates a feeling of safety in the workplace (Rashid, Sambasivan & Rahman, 2003). Thus, organizational attitudes and beliefs carried down from generation to generation are imparted into employees; hence, they perform as per the requirements of the firm without any form of threat or coercion (Park & Kim, 2009).
In addition, organizational culture facilitates the creation of commitments to the firm’s interests that may be larger than an individual’s self-interest (Sheridan, 1992). A culture that promotes commitments through various reward systems or recognition controls the contributions of employees, as they may be more than ready to dedicate extra effort to ensure that the firm accomplishes its business and corporate strategies, which is one of the strong points of Coca Cola (Vohra, 2003).
Furthermore, a strong organization culture sees employees accepting new challenges each passing day since roles are delegated keeping in mind the specialization and interest of the staff; thus, each employee strives to outperform the other (Mcewan, 2007). As a result, employees are and abide by the workplace policies. On the contrary, a company lacking culture depends on imposing duties to employees together with assigning a leader to make them work if they want tasks accomplished.
Organizational culture can control the variability of employees’ behaviour (Pech & Slade, 2004). Organization set up procedures, rules and standards, which may come with certain consequences for non-compliance and compliance (Mellahi, 2009). The aim of this is to encourage various behaviors and limit others. In addition, these rules can come as informal directions handed down from generation to the next. For instance, Emirates Airlines emphasizes on the culture of a certain dress code; thus, controlling the dressing behaviour of its employees in an effort to achieving dress harmony within the workplace. This is necessary to limit destruction and social segregations because of the dress code. This control employees in the sense that an absence of such a culture may see people behaving as they wish; hence, the variability in behaviour may jeopardize teamwork and other forms of teamwork in job assignment, which eventually reduces productivity (Bass, 1985).
In addition, it creates a common identity that encourages employee collectivism at the workplace (Malik et al. 2011). The collectivism controls the employees to act as a team by discouraging selfish behavior including information and idea sharing. This is because organization culture creates beliefs and values that go above one’s individual aspirations. A sense of identity makes employees feel part of the firm since they decipher what the organization expects of them; thus, when they are assigned a duty, they know what their duties are, and, therefore, have a purpose in the company.
Organizational culture also assists the staff in making decisions in scenarios where there is a lack of formal policies and rules or situations that have never been experienced by company (Savickas, 2001). The decision taken by the employees may be justified provided it is based on the organizational culture. A company without strong culture may find it hard to maneuver through such situations, and may settle for decisions that may not be consistent with the expectations of the majority; hence, they may not support its implementation. Thus, organizational culture controls the decision making process of employees by providing them with directions through values, structure and assumptions.
Organization culture also gives employees authority by removing the feelings of resentment and helplessness, which may detach employees from work life (Park & Kim, 2009). It gives employees some level of power over their work activities that may include choosing projects and working hours. Here, it controls employees in terms of functioning to ensure that they give their best towards meeting organizational strategies (Kyoo & Park, 2010). Moreover, the authority reduces the feeling of us versus them while at the same time improving morale, which is a form of psychological control in the workplace.
Lastly, organization culture creates a positive environment that encourages workers to be self-starters and performers. In addition, it encourages employees’ autonomy, which allows them to work without or with minimum supervision (Bass, 1985). In the same vein, culture aids the staff to develop corporation and mutual trust that serves to improve the performance of the organization while at the same time limiting incidents of disagreements among employees (Denison, 2004).
Organizational cultures comprises of different factors and issues that provide direction to employees on how they should conduct themselves as well as in business operations in an effort to establishing best practice. Organizational culture includes artifacts, beliefs, values and assumptions upon which the operations and characteristics of employees are rooted.
Organizational culture is a sophisticated way to control the employees of an organization. Organizational culture acts as a mechanism for controlling employees’ characteristics, attitudes and behaviors. It is more powerful and effective way of managing and controlling employees when compared to the organization’s regulations and laws. This is because, when problems and workplace issues are unique regulations tending to be minimally helpful. On the other hand, for instance, an organizational culture of efficient customer service may achieve the same or superior results as it encourages staff to think and act as if they are the clients.
Therefore, organizational culture acts as an indirect way of controlling employees in an organization through the organization structure, processes, believes, values and assumptions. The organizational structure, beliefs, value, assumptions and processes creates in employees an internal voice that guides their interactions with the business as well as their workplace behaviour. This may be crucial in achieving the strategies of the firm. Employees are bound to adhere to the organizational culture; hence, a control mechanism.
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