The Types of Organizational Culture

After reading Chapter 3 of “Organizations and Organizations”, I chose to write about organizational cultures as one of my concepts.  Organizational culture shows a “group’s shared values, attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, artifacts, and behaviors” (Tharp 2).  Organizational culture reflects a broad spectrum of internal and external relationships and “guides individual actions even to the extent that members are not even aware they are influenced by it” (Tharp 2).  Chester Barnard believed that organizational cultures should have “motivating power and purpose” and use structure and procedures so that they become infused with value (Scott and Davis 72).  Barnard also recognizes “the importance of organizational cultures shaped by zealous managers supplying strongly held values to members” (72).  Strong organizational cultures include good environments and open communication.  Organizational cultures should function to support the organization in implementing its goals.

Organization theory scholars recognize that organizational cultures directly correlate to the performance of an organization.  In studying various organizations, scholars have determined that, in general, there are four types of organizational culture types, including control, complete, collaborate, and create (Tharp 2).

Organizations that exhibit control organizational culture “share similarities with the stereotypical large, bureaucratic corporation” (Tharp 3).  Control organizations find standardization and a well-designed structure effective for enhancing performance.  These organizations look for leaders who can organize, coordinate, and monitor people and processes.  McDonald’s and the Department of Motor Vehicles are examples of two corporations with control organizational culture (Tharp 3).

General Electric is a company that utilized complete organizational culture.  Complete companies focus more on external relationships than organizations with control culture.  Complete organizations find value in transactions with “suppliers, customers, contractors, unions, legislators, consultants, regulators, etc.” (Tharp 3).  Complete organizational culture brings a results-driven environment as well as demanding leaders often focused on success and reputation.  As a result of this, complete organizations stress positioning and productivity through emphasis on these partnerships.  Jack Welch of GE made a famous statement that proved this thought to be true.  Welch declared “if business divisions were not first or second in their markets then, simply, they would be sold” (Tharp 3).

A third type of organizational culture is collaborative.  Corporations that display collaborative culture display integration and emphasize flexibility.  Organizations like this generally have a extended family feel to them and employees work closely with one another as well as with all stakeholders (Tharp 3).  Collaborative organizations share cohesion and an open and friendly working environment.  Tom’s of Maine is an American business that has collaborative organizational culture.  Employees look to their boss as a father figure and find their work to be fulfilling and safe (Tharp 3).

The final major type of organizational culture is create.  Create culture organizations feature dynamic, creative places to work and attention to innovation and risk-taking.  Create organizations look to grow in the future and strive to be expanding the corporation as a whole (Tharp 4).  Many tech companies can be used as examples of organizations with create culture.  Google challenges its workers to innovate and try new things in order to gain competitive advantage (Tharp 4).

In my paper on the downfall of the Enron organization, I briefly touched on the organizational culture of the company.  After learning more about the types of organizational cultures, I believe Enron utilized complete culture, which to some extent, drove the corporation to failure.  Enron executives spent more time worrying about reputation and getting ahead than dealing with the everyday business processes needed to sustain the corporation.  In the case of Enron, the communal goal of winning that is often stressed in complete culture organizations, did not translate past sketchy business deals and unethical business practices.

Tharp, Bruce M. “Four Organizational Culture Types”. Haworth: Organizational Culture with White Paper.April 2009. <;


One Response

  1. Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you spending
    some time and effort to put this short article together.
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