The Culture School

11 02 2010

Mintzberg explains culture as knitting “a collection of individuals into an integrated entity call organization.” Culture is not a new idea. In the 1980’s, the idea of culture was introduced to management. There are two perspectives to look at culture in an organization. The first is from the persective of an outsider looking in or from the perspective of someone already on the inside. Mintzberg also says that “the more closely interpretations and activities are woven together, the more deeply rooted is the culture.” A “rich” culture has strong beliefs that are strongly shared by all of its members in a way that sets them apart from others.

There are 5 premises of the Culture School

  1. Strategy formation is a process of social interaction
  2. Beliefs are acquired through a process of acculturation or socialization, and sometimes formal indoctrination
  3. The members are only a partial representation of the beliefs of the overall culture
  4. Strategy is more perspective than position
  5. Culture and especially ideology do not encourage strategic change so mush as the perpetuation or existing strategy

There are keys that link a culture to its strategy:

  1. Decision-making style
  2. Resistance to strategic change
  3. Overcoming the resistance to strategic change
  4. Dominant values
  5. Culture clash

Critiques of the cultural school:

  1. It can be conceptually vague
  2. It can discourage needed change. By putting too much focus on the culture of the company, the focus on change can be dampened.
  3. It too closely equates strategic advantage with organizational uniqueness.

“Tangible resources, such as machines and buildings, as well as less intangible resources, such as scientific know-how and budgetary systems, interact with members of an organization to produce what anthropologists call ‘mature culture’”

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