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8 Types of Organizational Culture

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Organizational culture are the intangible realities of an organization that frame its performance and working life. These are shaped by both management and employees over time and are beyond the direct control of policies, processes and procedures. For example, management may establish a dress code that employees may follow but there will still be culture that also influences employee attire such as how seriously employees take their professional appearance. The following is a guide to organization culture including its elements, types, characteristics and positive and negative manifestations.

Creative Culture

An environment where brave ideas are considered and critiqued with respect. A creative culture expects openness and stretching for great ideas over mediocrity and continuation of the status quo. Reasonable failures are tolerated and embraced in the spirit of experimentation and learning from failure.

Performance Culture

A culture with high expectations and status based on producing outcomes. Highly competitive with no points for what you did in the past or for effort that doesn't directly show results. Tends to be focused on short term results that are measurable over anything else. Low internal cooperation. Not conductive to creativity as exploring ideas isn't prioritized.

Service Culture

A culture that achieves service excellence in an authentic way. Status in the culture depends on acquiring a high level of professionalism and dedication to make things better for the customer. Such a culture may cultivate a deep sense of pride in service and a rich set of customer service conventions.

Learning Culture

An organization that ties status to perceived expertise and knowledge. Expects employees to continually produce knowledge artifacts and engage in training. Characteristic of academic institutions or firms that have deep resources to be able to afford the production of copious volumes of knowledge artifacts.

Adaptive Culture

A culture that accepts and expects an aggressive rate of change. This type of culture doesn't miss trends or competitive threats. In fact, they tend to overreact to these things with sharp changes in direction based on new ideas or competitors. These rapid changes are incredibly dynamic but often lack any consistent long term direction such that their overall effect may be limited.

Traditional Culture

A culture that values continuity with the past and stability such that it is slow to change. Tends to be formal with much planning that goes into change. Has a low tolerance for risk and is slow to recognize failures. Maintains a consistent direction and can be successful in an industry that doesn't change too rapidly.

Efficiency Culture

A spartan culture of continual cost cutting and efficiency improvement. Common in industries where unit cost is a primary type of competitive advantage because the product has been commoditized. Working life becomes robotic whereby processes are well-defined and nobody is interested in your creative ideas.

Collectivist Culture

Cultures that prioritize group harmony and social cohesion such that decision making requires extensive consensus building. Tends to be hierarchical with leaders requiring seniority and support by the group. Decisions can be inefficient, unimaginative or even illogical because they reflect a series of compromises as opposed to being internally coherent.

Key Concepts

A few key concepts related to organizational culture:
Next read: Examples of Organizational Culture
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