Boddy (2008) argues that forces and events unfolding in the external context, with the opportunities these offer and treats these pose, not necessarily generate immediate receptive adaptations in an organisation internal context, these are in fact considered by the Author as a “fourth set of forces” (internal environment – competitive (micro) environment – general (macro) environment – external environment). What apparently Boddy (2008) seems to suggest is that external events can influence an organisation internal context only if and when it is decided by the stakeholders concerned to put these events in the management agenda.
The existence of a process
of constant adaptation is identified and widely recognised by some Authors in
terms of organisational strategy where, to the extreme, it can take the form of
emergent strategy (Mintzberg, 1987), that is, a process according to which
business strategy changes at such a speed that it can only be retrospectively understood
and identified. Although on the one hand this view, or rather this extreme, can
be considered questionable, it cannot be denied on the other hand that,
especially in modern times, business strategies are subject to constant and
frequent changes as a matter of course as a consequence of the relevant and recurring
changes occurring in the exogenous environment.
Considering as “values” what both the employees and the employer believe is important in terms of behaviour and as “norms” a set of behavioural unwritten rules, organisational culture can be defined as “the pattern of values, norms, beliefs, attitudes and assumptions that … shape the way in which people in organisations behave and things get done” (Armstrong, 2009). As Deal and Kennedy (1982) put it, corporate culture is basically about a set of informal rules. Furnham and Gunter (1993) also refer to culture as the commonly held beliefs, attitudes and values existing within a business.
Thinking about the
way corporate culture actually develops, it can definitely be agreed with Boddy
(2008) that when individuals start to interact and work together they
consequently and instinctively start identifying and developing common values.
These shared values basically represent the basis for individuals working
within the same context to further develop common beliefs and behavioural
norms. It is important not to forget that organisational culture is about
unwritten norms, which are actually intended to shape the behaviour of all the
individuals of a group both when interacting the one with the other and when
interacting with people who are part of the exogenous environment. The positive
outcome achieved by means of these behavioural unwritten norms, that is to say
success, will clearly reinforce and strengthen the importance and validity of
the values and beliefs by which these norms are underpinned, contributing to
generate sort of a vicious, or rather, virtuous circle.
Organisational culture definitions and most of all the process throughout which organisational culture develops clearly show that shared values and beliefs, and the norms which these generate, are the fruit of a rather long process during which these norms are growingly reinforced and rooted in an organisation. The circumstance that we are looking at unwritten norms implies that the values and beliefs at the basis of these norms need to be even more genuinely acknowledged and accepted by all of the individuals concerned in order to be respected in practice.
It is hence hardly believable
that organisational culture could react to the changes occurring in the
external environment at the same speed as strategy does. Furnham and Gunter
(1993) claim that corporate culture “is not particularly dynamic and
ever-changing” in that they assume that culture is a component of an organisation
endogenous context, which is relatively stable in the short run and which is
much more likely to be influenced by the internal context. Whether it can be
accepted the idea that the internal context can influence more directly and,
most importantly, more quickly an organisation’s culture, the circumstance that
the external environment may impact less frequently organisational culture
remains notwithstanding questionable. The fact that changing corporate culture
is a long and demanding process does not necessarily entails in fact that
external forces are weak, but that it takes much more efforts and resources to
implement cultural changes. After all, it should not be neglected the circumstance
that the internal context is strongly influenced by the external environment
and its developments.
At Samsung Mr Jong-Yong Yun (2003), making treasure of the lessons learned from his past experience, decided to put more emphasis on organisational culture, rather than in business strategy in order to enable the company to achieve its overall business objectives and attain competitive edge. To combat complacency and reduce the impact of the restraining forces eventually arising during change processes he opted to put at the basis of Samsung’s organisational culture urgency (Instilling a sense of crisis – Crisis v Urgency in change management (Instilling a sense of crisis – Crisis v Urgency in change management).
beliefs and norms at the basis of corporate culture generate a “we-feeling”
which in turn provides a “shared system of meanings” and represents the basis
of the internal communications system and mutual understanding. Whether these
activities are not effectively and properly designed and implemented,
organisational culture may provoke a remarkable negative impact on
organisational performance (Furhnam and Gunter, 1993).
also those who have questioned the existence of a beneficial link between
corporate culture and organizational performance recognise the positive impact
organisational culture might have on the attainment of organizational results.
Parker (2000), who is not an advocate of the idea that a strong organisational
culture may improve performance, admits that a strong corporate culture
contributes to define a “valuable language which can be used to represent
organisation and organising.” Similarly, Thompson and McHugh (2002) recognise
that a corporate culture consistent and resonant with the overall business aims
and objectives is important for any type of organisation. In particular, they
highlight the case of co-operatives where not putting in place the adequate and
necessary mechanism to transmit and sustain the original ideas from founders to
new members can be the cause of organisational degeneration. Watson (1994)
claims that people are basically happy to share values, myths and legends
supporting corporate culture, “because to do so is to find meaning in their