What is organizational culture? Features and components

Culture is something inherent in human beings. Wherever we go, where we settle, we generate culture in one way or another, and the work environment is no exception.

It also extends to the business world and to human organizations and institutions in general, which create their own dynamic of interaction. In this article we will see what is the concept of organizational culture, The various theories which seek to explain it, the various types which can be given and especially the practical uses which it has.

    What is organizational culture? a definition

    When a group of people work in the same place and therefore share a lot of time together, it makes sense that a series of customs are established, that common experiences are lived and that certain values ​​are shared. All of this would shape the organizational culture of that particular company.

    It is possible to find many different names, such as company culture, company culture or company culture. Even administrative or institutional. But the important thing is that they all refer to the same concept.

    This cultural process is generated little by little and it does so at all levels, with all the interpersonal relationships that occur in the workplace, and it gives all its members the feeling of being part of a wholeSo this gives them what is called group identity.

    If the individual is comfortable sharing this culture, they are more likely to want to continue working on this site and will increase their loyalty to the company. If, on the other hand, you do not feel integrated into these customs and values, you are more likely to leave the company when you have the opportunity, if there are no other more factors. mighty ones that are holding you back there.


    Anyone with some work experience will know that the most common is that within the office or establishment, there is more affinity or simply more physical proximity between certain groups of employees. This facilitates the fact that within each of these groups the same phenomenon also occurs, giving rise to organizational subcultures.

    It’s normal for coworkers in a particular project, or those closest to you for whatever reason, to start forging stronger bonds, establishing customs, and even using phrases or jokes that ‘outside. This group would be difficult to understand, because foreigners did not know the origin. And this is it it is very common to use slang and act in a certain way which would not be so common outside the group.

    Theoretical frame

    One of the leading authors in the field of organizational culture has been Geert Hofstede, social psychologist, with his famous IBM study. Hofstede carried out a survey of no less than 116,000 employees of this company, in 64 different countries.

    Thanks to this spectacular sample, he managed to collect a huge amount of data which, after being properly processed, allowed him to establish the five dimensions in which, according to him, the organizational culture evolves. Let’s see them in more detail.

    1. Individualism versus collectivism

    This variable refers to ‘ degree to which the company attaches more importance to the individual capabilities of each employee than to the overall performance as a group. One of the IBM delegations with the highest score for individualism was the United States.

    In an individualistic company, personal successes will be more valued while in a collectivist it will be team successes that I know will seek above all. In this second type of organization, the organization chart hierarchy and employee relations are much more relevant.

    2. Distance as a function of power

    Refers to the the proximity or distance that is established between the different employees depending on the degree of power they hold within the company. In other words, how different a person is not to have respect for his subordinates.

      3. Masculinity versus femininity

      This dimension may be controversial today, as our view of gender roles has changed drastically in recent years, but it is very important to note that the study was conducted in 1980 and that is then the conception that was taken. restrained and that was not offensive to anyone. these were the socially accepted values ​​at the time. Once that is clarified, we continue to explain what Hofstede has defined as masculine and feminine.

      He is the author The masculine is understood as these values ​​of competitiveness, domination, independence and self-assertion, With an orientation towards the ego and towards the reward. On the contrary, for which the woman speaks to us about equality, taking charge of others, more fluid gender roles and with an orientation towards relations between people.

      4. Uncertainty control

      At this point, what Geert Hofstede is referring to is how safe or insecure they see the future of employees, And what is your tolerance for this feeling and your need to control it.

      Therefore, if the group scores low on the scale, it will be an indicator that they are enterprising people who have no problem taking certain risks. Conversely, if a high score is given, we will surely speak of a community which has a preference for stability, which follows the rules, and which prefers not to experience big changes.

      5. Time orientation

      In this case, what is studied is whether the actions carried out in the company aim to obtain short, medium or long term results. It will have a lot to do with the desire for a smaller reward, but soon, or else, put all your efforts into a much bigger success, but it will take a little longer. It would be a dichotomy between orientation towards the present and orientation towards the future.

      6. Indulgence versus restriction

      We said that Hofstede set five dimensions, and it did. But in later studies he decided to add a sixth and final variable. What he studies is the degree to which the impulses are released or attempts are made to control them.

      In this way, he found big differences between companies like the Australian one, where there would be more leniency, ahead of others like the Chinese or the Russians, in which a greater restriction would be observed.

      Types of organizational culture

      The typology most frequently used to study this concept makes it possible to distinguish between strong culture and weak culture.

      1. A strong culture

      This is the one in which members of the organization agree with the values ​​left by their company, and therefore share the beliefs of the same. This would happen in all components of the group.

      In these companies, we usually give what is called group thinking, a concept of psychologist Irving Janis. This refers to the fact that given a high degree of cohesion among peers, it is much more likely that there is unanimity with the general thinking of the organization, which is difficult for different opinions.

      It’s easier to give if you have a strong group identity or if there is a charismatic leader at the front.

      2. Low culture

      This happens when this coincidence is not given and therefore the company imposes values ​​on its employees, Who would not be convinced. These organizations are characterized by strict control of all procedures.

      In this case, divergent positions of organizational thought will be more frequent, hence greater control must be exercised. There is no commitment from the person to the company, or it is very low.

      the functions

      Although we have already seen several, we will list the main functions that organizational culture fulfills in the company.

      1. Integration and motivation

      It makes each member feel like part of a whole, of a family, and it will make the person see the needs of the business as their own and this will motivate you for better performance and achieve your goals.

      It is particularly useful for on-boarding new staff, because if the organizational culture is appropriate, quickly they will feel integrated as one more member of the community, even if they take little time in the company.

        2. Control

        It is a form of control of the company over its workers, because it establishes what is the direction of the group’s thought, which they will all have to adopt if they want to feel like members of it. This is how they model the individual and tell him, subtly or not, how he should behave in the workplace.

        3. Identity

        Not only does it give a group feeling, but also the difference with the rest of the organizations, Make employees feel unique and special compared to others.

        4. Stability

        For all this, it is a way to generate stability in the company, so that there are less problems that incidents occur among the workers affecting society.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Online Hofstede, G. (1980). Consequences of Culture: International Differences in Workplace Values, Beverly Hills, USA. Sage publications.
        • Hernández-Bernadett, J., Rodríguez-Olives, MA, Valdez-Rodríguez, BE, (2019). Perception of organizational culture and leadership in a higher education institution. Chihuahua, Mexico. Openness to technology.
        • Robbins, SP, (2004). Organizational behavior. Mexico City, Mexico. Pearson Education.

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