Meaning and Characteristics of Organizational Culture

PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology

Chapter 9: Organizational Culture and Climate

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4




Organizational culture is a system of shared beliefs and attitudes that develop within an organization and guides the behaviour of its members. When traditions are institutionalized, it becomes culture. Organizational culture is the result of traditional functions of an organization. Organizational culture is a frame work within which the behaviour of the members takes place.

It is also known as corporate culture, and has a major impact on the performance of organization and especially on the quality of work life experienced by the employees.

Organizational culture is described by Robbins & Coulter as the shared values, beliefs, or perceptions held by employees within an organization or organizational unit. 

Brown (1998) defines organizational culture as “the pattern of beliefs, values and learned ways of coping with experience that have developed during the course of an organization’s history, and which tend to be manifested in its material arrangements and in the behaviours of its members”.

Martins and Martins (2003) state the general definition of organizational culture as “a system of shared meaning held by members, distinguishing the organization from other organizations”.

Arnold (2005) indicates that “organizational culture is the distinctive norms, beliefs, principles and ways of behaving that combine to give each organization its distinct character”.

Harrison (1993) defined organizational culture as the “distinctive constellation of beliefs, values, work styles, and relationships that distinguish one organization from another”.

Organizational culture is the totality of assumptions, beliefs, customs, traditions and values shared by the members of the organization. Such assumptions may be in the form of internally oriented characteristics (belief, values, attitudes, feelings, etc.) and externally oriented characteristics (symbols, products, buildings, dresses etc.)

Features / Characteristics of Organizational Culture

  1. Every organization has its own personality.
  2. The personality of an organization defines the internal environment of an organization. 
  3. It differentiates the organization from others.
  4. It is relatively enduring or stable over time. 
  5. It is perceived by the members and the outsides.
  6. It exercises significant influences on the attitudes, behaviour and performance of organizational members.

Factors Contributing to Positive Organizational Culture

Positive organizational culture stems from a variety of factors, including active leadership, explicit policies, and less tangible aspects such as the “feel” of an organization. Creating a positive organizational culture can be as simple as giving employees positive reinforcement for good work. Leaders who reward outstanding performance and acknowledge the contributions that employees make to an organization may foster achievement motivation and promote success. Similarly, a positive climate can be nurtured by leaders who incorporate fairness and safety into the cultural climate as part of a well-functioning workplace, rather than treating these concerns as hassles that must be endured. Another aspect of positive organizational culture that has recently become a focal point for researchers and businesspeople alike is compassion. Compassion means empathizing with the suffering of another and doing something to alleviate that suffering.

Author – Dr. Niyati Garg

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