The Culture of Work Organizations
Every organization is unique. This is because the organizations have different ways of doing things. They have a culture that is unique to that organization. Some scholars say the corporate culture is to an organization what personality is to an individual
Different organizations give different levels of job satisfaction to their employees. Job satisfaction is concerns a workers feelings or state of mind regarding their nature of work.
It is influenced by many factors e.g. relationship with supervisor, physical environment, degree of fulfillment in work. On the other hand organizational subculture is defined by (Krefting & Frost, 1985:155) as the shared meanings, beliefs, symbols and myths that “function as social glue.”
The culture emerges in an organization as the employees deal with problems and life experiences. However for the Vietnamese laborers working in Malaysia they have experienced a lot of problems in their work place. They are underpaid; sometimes they are not paid at all.
Some have been forced to seek illegal employment after the jobs they were promised by the government and employment agencies never materialized. This has affected them both physically and emotionally thus they do not know what job satisfaction is. They face constant hunger and wrongful imprisonment.
The organizational culture can be put into three categories as Schein explains. The first category we have artefacts which refers to the observable and perceptible products of an organizations culture. The second category is the espoused values i.e. the values, beliefs ethical and moral codes-they are a justification why people behave in a certain way in an organization.
Thirdly we have the basic underlying assumptions which are the beliefs, values, ideologies and moral and ethical codes that are deeply engrained into people’s subconscious (1999:15). The missionary organization beliefs and values are that every human being should be treated fairly. The Vietnamese laborers are suffering and yet they lack enough people to meet their physical and spiritual needs.
The Methodist church needs to send more missionaries to minister to the needy in Malaysia. This way the missionaries will achieve their goals of bringing many Vietnamese laborers to the fold of Christ.
They can do this by opening job opportunities to these mistreated laborers where they will work in human and conducive working conditions. This will give them job satisfaction and a new corporate culture that will be engrained in them through Christian principles.
The organizational cultures are determined by the basic assumptions. The cultures become engrained and unquestionable. The employees take them as the truth. Thus members of an organization may view the organization culture as the objective reality yet it is a social construction (Krefting & Frost, 1985:156).
As a result the organizational culture may become a hindrance to the members of an organization such that they may fail to seek alternative ways of dealing with issues within their organization.
An organization has subcultures. This is because though an organization may have a unique culture it cannot be a monolithic culture. That means that the culture is not homogenous as there are multiple cultures within the overall organization culture.
This multiple cultures are called subcultures and each is unique in terms of behavior, belief and ideologies. Furthermore the subcultures may differ from one another and even from the main organizational culture (Trice & Beyer, 1993:174).
The subcultures may be formed vertically or horizontally in an organization. This may be between people who do similar work, from the same racial, ethnic or religious groupings or from the same professional occupation (Ott, 1989:46). Krefting and Frost urge that larger the differences in the subcultures the bigger the self-interests. Thus introducing change would affect some subcultures adversely (1985:157).
There are three types of subcultures in an organization. One enhancing subculture- these are values that are similar with the unitary culture of the whole organization and are stronger and highly upheld.
Then there is the orthogonal subcultures- accept some values of the main organizational culture however some of their assumptions are different. Lastly are the counter cultures- these values conflict with the organization’s main or unitary culture (Martin & Siehl, 1983:53-54).
Culture in an organization is very important. It determines the success and the growth of an organization (Iyer, 2009:1). On the other hand culture can be a liability to an organization if the shared values conflict with an organization’s goals. An organization that has the culture of work all the time may be doing itself a great disservice.
This is because the employees are required to stick to strict deadlines. This reduces interaction between employees and the work place may become unworkable and unfriendly. This may bring about a stiff competition as the employees try to give their best. At the end of the day they are exhausted and burned out with stress which is later reflected in their final output which is greatly reduced (Iyer, 2009:1).
Some companies do not encourage change or their employees to improve themselves by hindering their creativity through experimentation. They prefer to stick to old ways of doing things. Consequently when one fails to adapt to the unitary culture of the organization they are judged as failures.
This kind of culture in organization limits people from exploiting new areas that would help not only the individual but the organization as well (Iyer, 2009:1). Strong cultures in an organization are an advantage however when the organization is required to change to adapt with changes this strong culture may become a liability as many may be unwilling to change what they have practised for so long (Boisner & Chatman, 2002:1).
The management can create an ethical culture in an organization through their behavior. The leaders or managers need to translate the values of organization often hang on the walls. This is because according to many studies the values of the employees are often different from those of the organization.
The managers should provide a workable condition through efficient cultural management because the organizational culture has a strong link with the organizational performance. Thus this would ensure that the employees perform at their peak levels.
The managers should adapt cultures that are performance driven. A study done in the US in two hundred and seven companies e.g. PepsiCo and Wal-Mart showed that these companies had a culture that served their main stakeholders’ interests (Chirairo, 2008:1).
In conclusion corporate culture should be an asset to an organization. Therefore it is important that the members of an organization understand its objectives so that their behavior can match the required behavior of the organization to increase productivity. This means that organizations need to change their strategy by modifying the culture of their organizations and all the stakeholders should have their say.
The organizations should seek opinions from the people who perform the duties. This will ensure that conflicts will not occur and this will in turn help the organizations to achieve their set objectives. The employees should be encouraged to be creative and take alternative action without having to wait for approval from their superior. This reduces the control of the managers and the employees are able to work comfortably.
The Missionary organization in Malaysia should strive to change the lives of the Vietnamese laborers by reaching out to them. This is one of their main goals to go out and preach the world of God to the nations. By ministering to the needs of these individuals who have lost everything they will change their lives for the better and achieve their goals.
Boisnier, A. & Chatman, A.J. (24th May, 2002). The role of Subcultures in Agile Organizations.
Chirairo, C. (13th July 2008). Driving a High Performance Culture.
Iyer, C.(2009). .
Krefting, L.A. and Frost. P.J. (1985). Untangling webs, surfing waves, and wildcatting. A Multiple-metaphor perspective on managing organizational culture. In Frost, P.J. (Ed) Organizational Culture. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, Inc
Martin, J., & Siehl 1983. Organizational culture and counterculture: An uneasy symbiosis. Organizational Dynamics, 122: 52-65
Ott, J.S. (1989). The organizational culture perspective. Chicago: Richard. D. Irwin. Inc.
Schein, E.H. (1999). The corporate culture survival guide: sense and nonsense about culture change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers
Trice, H., & Beyer, J. M. 1993. The culture of work organizations. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall.
Trice, H.M., & Beyer, J. M. 1984. ‘Studying organizational cultures through rites and ceremonials’ Academy of Management Review, 9: 653-669
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