Strong versus Weak Cultures
If most employees have the same opinions about the organization’s mission and values, the culture is strong; if opinions vary widely, the culture is weak.
In a strong culture, the organization’s core values are both intensely held and widely shared. The more members who accept the core values and the greater their commitment, the stronger the culture and the greater its influence on member behavior.
A strong culture should more directly affect organizational outcomes because it demonstrates high agreement about what the organization represents. Such unanimity of purpose builds cohesiveness, loyalty, meaning, and organizational commitment.
A study of nearly 90,000 employees from 137 organizations found that culture strength or consistency was related to numerous financial outcomes when there was a strong sense of mission and high employee involvement.
Culture defines “the rules of the game.”
First, it has a boundary-defining role: It creates distinctions between organizations.
Second, it conveys a sense of identity for organization members.
Third, culture facilitates commitment tosomething larger than individual self-interest.
Fourth, it enhances the stability of the social system. Culture is the social glue that helps hold the organization together by providing standards for what employees should say and do.
Finally, it is a sense-making and control mechanism that guides and shapes employees’ attitudes and behavior.
Today’s trend toward decentralized organizations makes culture more important than ever, but ironically it also makes establishing a strong culture more difficult.
Research on hundreds of CEOs and top management team (TMT) members suggests that more positive organizational outcomes are achieved when the culture and leadership styles are complementary in content and not redundant.
When leadership behaviors and an organization’s cultural values are redundant, the leaders have less of an effect on organizational outcomes.
However, when leaders provide something that is lacking in the organization’s culture, they can substitute or fill in for the element that is missing. For example, a transformational leader in a bureaucratic, hierarchical culture would be more effective than a transactional leader in the same type of culture
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