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Defining organisational culture
Diverse researchers came along with distinct perspectives concerning company culture. In this respect, Deal, Kennedy, Peter and Waterman (cited in UoL 2008:58), advocate that: “Culture is the way we do things around here or the rules of the game for getting along in the organisation”.
Moreover, Hillis (2004:28) perceives that: “A constructive culture is defined simplistically as one oriented towards achievement, self-actualization, creativity, participation, valuing people, and one that places a high priority on healthy relationships between people”.
This perception of organisational culture resembles partly KH employees perception on the way how the management of KH value people. Some of them, although the numbers cannot be confirmed, as no scientific surveys were never carried out, believe that the company value people and invest in people by setting up a human resources department with full staff compliment to ensure that relationships are built between people having different social and educational background. Apart from this, employees have to integrate themselves with a considerable number of other employees working in different work patterns, speaking different languages and working with different working conditions.
Researches such as Hibbard, 1998 and White (1998) have focused on values in defining organisational culture in the past but this research has been questioned in later papers, “Whereas values are important elements of organisation culture, research has demonstrated that organisations showed more differences in practices than in values” Hofstede, 2001. Further explaining these results, “values are acquired in ones early life and mainly in the family”.
A viewpoint expressed by Handy, 1999 in his early works: “Anyone who has spent time in another country will appreciate how values, beliefs and cherished philosophies affect the way society is organised, They will appreciate too how these values and beliefs are shaped by history and tradition, by the climate, the kinds of work people do, the size of the country and it s prosperity”.
Maybe that this theoretical concept is of relevance to the environment at KH because although the corporate strategy and organisational culture are influenced by the German culture, the Meditterranean culture, people and history and size of the country are forming part of the KH based in Malta. The high quality customer service standards, consistency in the service provision and the supreme physical hotel facilities and environment were adopted and form part of the organisational culture in Gozo. This is particularly true when one considers the high flexibility, loyalty and commitment to high productivity levels at the hotel which are moulded in the organisational culture at KH. Stating the GM of KH, the employees are loyal to their Brand as the Maltese were under the British forces, flexible to learn and adjust to different economic conditions of the organisation, and are productive in the sense that it is a known fact that keeping very high productivity levels is the survival of the company forming part of the organisation culture. The culture in people of Gozo, forming part of the Maltese archipelago is one of continuous survival going back to the ancient times when the island was conquered many times and the inhabitants were taken as slaves or prisoners.
With this in mind, there should only be subtle differences between the published values of organisation/functions of same national background. Hofstede, 1980 did measures 40 nations and summarily clustered them into four main dimensions.
In the perspective of Smircich (cited in UoL 2008:58): “Culture is not something an organisation has, but something an organisation is”. This implies that organisations are constantly shaping their internal respective culture. The cultural infrastructure of the organisation defines the personality of the business concern. Moreover culture impacts directly business performance. It is pertinent to refer to Edgar Schein's theory of Organisational Culture as: “A pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaption and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems”
There are numerous studies available and only subtle differences in definition. In fact, understanding why one behaves the way they do, as part of a function within which they work is difficult in its own right. By the very nature of the way culture develops, an individual is constantly aligning to its unique paradigm due to their immersion within it. The alignment takes place without necessarily contributing to its being or indeed consciously accepting its influence. If we acknowledge that there are difficulties associated with both examining and understanding culture then it follows that it would be naive to count on glossy, published doctrines of values and beliefs in attempting to examine organisational practice. Personal experience leads the author to believe that carefully crafted public statements of values, beliefs and purpose are not accurate descriptions of real organisational behaviour. At best, these statements are only partly true and at worst misleading. This is not generally a premeditated deception but more likely the aspirations of a particular group of stakeholders of how they would like the organisation to operate. With the developing pace of globalization and increased consumer awareness, it is understandable that publishing carefully constructed statements describing positive values and the very morality of an organisation/function is as a strategic activity. The ultimate question is whether they can behave in a way that reflects what they publish.
There is a common denominator linking these definitions. The theorists agree that values, beliefs and norms are the substance of corporate culture. They act as guidelines as regards the behaviour of organisation members.
Linstead and Grafton-Small (1992:333) indicated that “[Corporate] culture [is] devised by management and transmitted, marketed, sold or imposed on the rest of the organisation...which are offered to organisational members as part of the seductive process of achieving membership and gaining commitment.”
In this respect, Anakwe and Greenhaus (1999), highlight that organisational culture is transmitted on to new employees, via the process of socialisation.
Schein Layers Of Organisational Culture
What is Organisational Culture?
Berg et al, 2004 describe organisational culture as: “the shared perceptions of organisational practices within an organisational unit that differ from other organisational units”.
Having read numerous descriptions for the term “organisational culture”, this description, over all others, provides the most appropriate connectivity to my approach with this paper.
Researches such as Hibbard, 1998 and White (1998) have focused on values in defining organisational culture in the past but this research has been questioned in later papers, “Whereas values are important elements of organisation culture, research has demonstrated that organisations showed more differences in practices than in values” Hofstede, 2001. Further explaining these results, “values are acquired in ones early life and mainly in the family”. A viewpoint expressed by Handy, 1999 in his early works. “Anyone who has spent time in another country will appreciate how values, beliefs and cherished philosophies affect the way society is organised, They will appreciate too how these values and beliefs are shaped by history and tradition, by the climate, the kinds of work people do, the size of the country and it s prosperity”. With this in mind, there should only be subtle differences between the published values of organisation/functions of same national background. Hofstede, 1980 did measures 40 nations and summarily clustered them into four main dimensions.
There are two distinctive elements of useful material in an organisational cultural comparison examination: published values and actual practice/behaviour. Published values provide an insight into the differences in national culture whereas an examination of actual practice and behaviour will provide a useful insight into functional phenomenon. This paper will concentrate on both elements where they have relevance to the assignment question. To attempt to evaluate the misalignment between published values and actual behaviours of a specific function would be a research paper in its own right.
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