THE CULTURE OF AN ORGANIZATION: A CASE STUDY

SALLY A WALLACE, Marquette University

Abstract

Summary of the Problem. This study proposed to validate the importance of culture as a variable of organizational effectiveness and one to be considered in management strategies. Culture was defined as the pattern of basic assumptions which a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in coping with its internal and external environments (Schein, 1983a). The purpose of this study was to: (1) discover the cultural assumptions of an organization's top management, (2) how widely shared those assumptions are by other organizational members, and (3) how those assumptions have influenced past management strategies, and will influence future management strategies. Methods. The researcher spent five months, from July to November of 1985, with the organization. The study was conducted at the main headquarters of the company, and at another plant approximately three miles away. The data were collected in the form of in-depth interviews, observations, and a review of company documents. Schein's (1985) categories of cultural assumptions were used to categorize the data. The Schwartz and Davis (1981) model of cultural risk was used to highlight cultural patterns which could affect management strategies. Results. The content analysis performed on the data indicated that the company perceives itself as an organization with a distinct and widely shared culture, and acts accordingly in implementing strategies. The cultural assumptions that were uncovered by the researcher did not provide the organization with any new information; the research validated what the company already knew about its culture. However, the research did uncover limits to some of the shared assumptions. The study also provided an example of an organization that has produced a rich culture which has a definite influence on the company's effectiveness. Conclusions. The results of this study indicated that: (1) culture is an attribute of an organization; (2) culture can be discovered through the use of Schein's (1985) categories of assumptions; and (3) the Schwartz and Davis (1981) model of cultural risk is useful in highlighting the compatibility of an organization's strategies with its culture. Linking the definitions and methodology has provided a new research model in the field of organizational analysis, one which highlights the belief that culture is an important variable to be considered in an organization's effectiveness.

Recommended Citation

WALLACE, SALLY A, "THE CULTURE OF AN ORGANIZATION: A CASE STUDY" (1986). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8618722.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8618722

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