How to Assess Organizational Culture

by DillyDedalus - Updated September 26, 2017

Office environment, stress level, co-worker relationships and employee psychology make up an organization's culture. Assessing organizational culture through the metric created by Stephen Robbins in "Behavior, Concepts, Controversies, Applications" reveals strengths and weaknesses hidden in other models of how workplaces function. By ranking an organization on several continuums such as member identity, means-end orientation and risk tolerance, management decisions can be crafted to cater to the culture of a specific office. Discovering the underlying culture of an office allows managers to create office solutions that are more likely to work.

People

Member identity describes how much workers in an organization identify with their individual job role versus their company. Rank your organization along a continuum from very role-oriented to very company-oriented.

Group emphasis describes how office tasks are organized. Rank your organization on a continuum from requiring more duties of individuals to requiring more duties of groups.

People focus describes how much supervisors focus on the completion of tasks versus the effect of tasks on the workers performing them. Rank your organization on a continuum from more task-focused to more people-focused.

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Unit integration describes to what extent units in an organization work together. Rank your organization on a continuum from units functioning independently to interdependently.

Problems and risks

Control describes "degree to which rules, regulations, and direct supervision are used to oversee and control member behavior", according to Robbins. Rank your organization on a continuum from loose to tight supervisory control.

Risk tolerance describes how much an organization allows its workers to be innovative and take risks. Rank your organization on a continuum from low to high risk tolerance.

Conflict tolerance describes how well your organization deals with arguments and clashes; are employees encouraged to air grievances and differences openly, or is passive-aggressive behavior normal? Rank your organization on a continuum from low to high tolerance for conflict.

Means and ends

Reward criteria describes why workers in an organization are rewarded and advanced. Rank your organization on a continuum from rewards based mostly on good performance to rewards based mostly on non-performance criteria (e.g. length of time in current position).

Means-end orientation describes how much an organization focuses on processes versus end results; would your business sacrifice the means for the end, or the end for the means? Rank your organization on a continuum from more means-focused to more ends-focused.

Open-systems focus describes how aware and reactive your business is to changes outside your corporate environment; does your organization react to changes in technology and the news? Rank your organization on a continuum from internally focused to externally focused.

Using the rankings

Draw a horizontal line modeling each of these continuums (e.g. for "open-systems focus", draw a line with "internally focused" written on the left and "externally focused" written on the right).

Place an x on each line to show where your organization falls.

Use this visualization to determine whether the culture of your office will be in harmony with new recommendations, or whether changes will go against the way your workplace usually functions.

References

  • "Behavior, Concepts, Controversies, Applications;" Stephen P. Robbins; 1993

About the Author

Dilly Dedalus wears all the writing hats: technical, academic and creative. An interdisciplinary graduate student with a master's degree in digital interaction studies, she combines experience in academic research, business analysis and web programming. She has been writing professionally since 2001 in academic journals, ghost-writing web development blogs since 2005 and crafting articles for eHow since 2009.

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