Corporate culture: what it is, the types and elements that make it up

The field of businesses and organizations is constantly evolving. Social and organizational psychology, among others, is responsible for studying all of these changes. An important phenomenon in this area is the corporate culture, which consists of the set of values ​​and behaviors that define a company.

In this article we will know what exactly the corporate culture is, What components make it up, what types there are, how it is transmitted between workers and what elements are necessary for cultural change to occur in organizations, a process that is often necessary to continue to develop.

    Corporate culture: what is it?

    Corporate culture can be defined as the personality of a company. Collect it all values, processes, knowledge, techniques, attitudes and policies that the company considers defining and identifiable from the organization itself. It is in a way the “philosophy” of the company.

    All these elements allow the achievement of the objectives of the company, and many experts consider the corporate culture as “the DNA of the company”, because in it is, as we have said, the identity of the same.

    Today, more and more companies, managers and professionals consider corporate culture to be the most important part for a business to work, Even beyond its strategy or its operating model.

    This is why more and more companies are now choosing to define a good corporate culture, which is known, accepted and shared by all their employees and positions. The objective of a good corporate culture is that all members of the company feel like owners and share its values.


    We can talk about it two main types of corporate culture, although there are more: the strong culture and the weak.

    Strongly, the corporate culture is accepted and followed with determination by the workers; among the weak, on the other hand, workers do not accept the corporate culture proposed by the organization (its values, standards, behavior, etc.). In fact, they perceive these items as taxes.

    Culture change

    Sometimes, many companies are forced to change their corporate culture. But when does this happen? When the behavior and values ​​of the organization are no longer used to achieve their goals.

    Thus, the corporate culture it must always be up to date, constantly evolving. Later we will see what elements are necessary to produce a change in the corporate culture.

    How is it transmitted?

    Corporate culture it is transmitted mainly through organizational communication. There are different types of organizational communication (formal, informal, bottom-up, top-down …) which allows multiple forms of social interaction and transmission of information. These interactions will make it possible to know and reproduce the corporate culture.

    In this way, when a young person joins a company, it is most common for him to learn the appropriate language and behavior within the group of colleagues, by listening to the stories and “legends” of the company and by learning about it. observing rites and rituals. organisation.

    All this (language, behavior, rites …) is also part of the corporate culture, and this is what the person will know and assume throughout his time in the company and the development of his work in it. This is why the ideal is to promote this knowledge, so that the worker ends up being an integral part of the company.


      There are several elements that make up the corporate culture, and several experts have made different proposals about them. Let’s discover two proposals:

      1. Proposal of Edgar Shein

      Edgar Shein, social psychologist and author of Organizational Culture and Leadership, suggests three elements that make up any corporate culture:

      1.1. unconscious assumptions

      These encompass the how people and workers view the company from the outside (And from the inside), what they think of her, what beliefs they have, etc.

      1.2. values

      They are formed by the rules that should guide workers’ behavior, As well as its principles and models to follow.

        1.3. artifacts

        The third element of any corporate culture, according to Shein, would be artifacts, i.e. the results that the company obtains thanks to its actions.

        2. Moved by Stephen Robbins

        Stephen Robbins, writer and author of books such as Organizational Behavior, suggests 7 other elements as members of any corporate culture:

        2.1. Individual autonomy

        consists of the level of independence and participation of the company itself.

        2.2. structure

        The structure brings together the rules that govern the behavior of workers and the rules that define the functioning of the company. too much includes the degree of control exercised to ensure that the rules are followed.

        2.3. Support

        It is about the support and help that workers and their superiors provide to each other, and it includes the type of relationship they have.

        2.4. identity

        Identity as part of corporate culture it alludes to being part of the company (It’s a feeling of belonging). It is how workers perceive the company as a whole and not in a fragmented way.

        2.5. recognition

        recognition it has to do with the rewards or positive reinforcement that employees receive for a job well done and for their contributions to the business, by the organization.

        2.6. Conflict tolerance

        It refers to the capacity of the company face obstacles and difficulties as they show up to achieve their goals.

        2.7. Risk tolerance

        The final element of the corporate culture proposed by St. Robbins is risk tolerance, a concept that alludes to creativity and innovation, Very positive aspects of the implementation in the company.

        Change of corporate culture

        As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, sometimes companies they need to make a culture change because their current system is not working. There are 4 functionalities that facilitate and allow this process of changing the corporate or organizational culture. These characteristics or conditions are as follows:

        1. Strong leader

        A strong leader who can initiate and sustain business change is essential. Leaders are key figures in any change process, Who bring ideas and lead a team through motivation, enthusiasm and experience.

        2. Vision of what needs to be done

        Another necessary condition for producing a cultural change in the company is a vision of what needs to be done to achieve that change. This vision implies a conviction of what the new culture will be, and it must be well defined.

        3. New working procedures

        The development of new working procedures is also necessary that they help to break the fidelity to the old values, already to establish the new ones.

        4. Open organization

        Finally, an organization open to learning, adaptable to change and constantly growing, will succeed in achieving that change in corporate culture that the organization needed to continue to develop.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Beascoechea, JM (1996). Determinants of corporate culture. Senior Management, 188: 289-306.
        • Hogg, M. (2010). Social psychology. Vaughan Graham M. Panamericana. Posted by Panamericana.
        • Oliveras, EF (2018). Business CULTURE: concept, types and components. P&A Group.

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