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Organizational culture, Corporate culture, Workplace culture, Company culture


Understanding Culture

In the business world, culture defines the shared values, norms, and behaviors that shape the social and psychological environment of an organization. It’s the ‘way things are done around here’, influencing how employees interact, make decisions, and solve problems.

Components of Culture

Culture is typically composed of several elements:

  • Values: These are the beliefs that guide an organization’s actions and decisions.
  • Norms: These are the unspoken rules that dictate expected behaviors within the organization.
  • Artifacts: These are the tangible representations of the culture, such as office layout, dress code, or company rituals.
  • Behaviors: These are the actions and practices of employees that reflect the company’s values and norms.

Importance of Culture

A strong, positive culture can drive innovation, creativity, and productivity, fostering an environment where employees feel valued and engaged. Conversely, a toxic culture can lead to low morale, poor performance, and high turnover.

Shaping Culture

Leaders play a crucial role in shaping and maintaining organizational culture. They do this by modeling desired behaviors, communicating and reinforcing values, and recognizing and rewarding behaviors that align with the culture.

Usage Examples

1. Google’s culture of ‘innovation and creativity’ encourages employees to spend 20% of their time on personal projects, leading to breakthrough products like Gmail and Google News.

2. Southwest Airlines’ culture of ‘fun and customer service’ has been a key driver of its success in the highly competitive airline industry.

3. Zappos’ culture of ‘delivering happiness’ has resulted in exceptional customer service and high employee satisfaction.

Historical Context

The concept of organizational culture emerged in the 1980s, as researchers began to recognize the impact of culture on business performance. It has since become a key focus for leaders and managers looking to drive innovation, improve performance, and attract and retain talent.


  • Culture is often mistaken as something that can be ‘implemented’ or ‘changed’ overnight. In reality, culture is deeply ingrained and evolves over time.
  • Many believe that culture is solely the responsibility of leadership. While leaders play a crucial role, every member of the organization contributes to the culture.


  • Culture vs Climate: While culture refers to the underlying values and norms, climate refers to the ‘feel’ or atmosphere of the workplace.
  • Culture vs Strategy: Strategy is about what a company plans to do, while culture is about how they do it.

Related Concepts

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Employee engagement
  • Values
  • Norms
  • Behaviors
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