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). Continue reading

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The Rise and Demise of Competent Jerks at Enron

I am particularly interested in the power dynamics that occurred at Enron.  Enron was a formal organization.  Power in formal organizations is determined by the design of the organization: certain power is attached to positions, which becomes available to any individual who fills that position.  Enron’s top executives all assumed these powerful positions but the dynamics between the group seemed to reflect the theories of power in informal groups. Continue reading

What was in the water at Enron?

While reading The Smartest Guys in the Room, I became increasingly angry about the Enron scandal and it disgusted me in terms of the level of corruption within the company.  In my oversimplified 7th grade memory of the Enron scandal, I thought that Ken Lay was a terrible person who was the cause of the downfall of Enron.  While reading Smartest Guys in the Room, I realized that there was no one person who was the downfall of Enron, but that so many people within Enron were just as responsible as Ken Lay.  I didn’t understand how so many people could act unethically and at times illegally, to increase profits.  What could possibly make a group of smart people with such high degrees from Ivy League schools act the way Enron did?  Why couldn’t they see any of the possible ramifications of their actions, or if they did why did they decide to ignore the signs?  What was in the water they were drinking that made some of the smartest guys in the room act so stupidly? Continue reading

Power at the Top: How the Smartest Guys Took Control

In looking at the perspectives from Organizations and Organizing, I want to look more closely at Enron as a rational system.  Scott and Davis state that these are  “Structural arrangements within organizations are conceived as tools deliberately designed to achieve the efficient realization of ends or, from Weber’s perspective, the disciplined performance of participants” (pg. 56).  Goal specificity plays a large part in these types of organization just as it did at Enron.  The executives had a clear set of goals based almost completely on profit maximizing within the short term.  This company was striving to be at the top and stopped at nothing to increase the wealth of shareholders.  What Enron failed to do was react to the rest of the environment, all stakeholders involved.   This may have been accounted for if Enron had moved more toward an open or natural system perspective.  Company culture of Enron did not allow people to challenge the actions of the executives in order to innovate.  This was not done with Enron as it is stated about Enron,  “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.”

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Googley, Googley, Googley!

Last week I wrote about the unique culture of Google. I commented on two related posts this week that also dealt with corporate cultures, specifically with their effect on employees. I commented on this post that was a broad opinion on how to engage employees during economic downturns. Economic downturns can have a severe effect on the environment and atmosphere of an organization. There are many strategies that can be implemented in order to counteract the negative sentiments brought forth by these difficult times. I had recently read on Peppercom’s website about a workshop they offer that teaches the clients how to incorporate more humor into the workplace. Peppercom is a mid-sized public relations firm in NYC. The purpose of their “humor workshop” is to teach businesses how to increase morale and improve corporate culture during economic downturns.

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“Building a ‘Googley’ Workforce”

Earlier this week in my Strategy and Policy class we spent time talking about the culture of organizations. One student brought up the unique example of the Google culture. I was so intrigued by the distinctive atmosphere of Google that I decided to do some research on the subject. I found a particularly interesting article in the Washington Post entitled, “Building a Googley Workforce” that supported my theory that Google is the epitome of an informal organization.

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The Organizational Theory of Layoffs in “Office Space” and “Up In The Air”

The post I chose was How layoffs have evolved from “Office Space” to “Up in the Air”.  The article discusses how the organizational culture has changed over time, specifically from the movie “Office Space” to the new movie “Up In The Air.”  The movie “Office Space” was a cynical view of corporate culture and downsizing, whereas the movie “Up In The Air” is a realistic view of corporate culture and downsizing.  Even in “Office Space” the mechanical process of laying off employees at least included the managers of the company where the downsizing was occurring.  In “Up In The Air,” the downsizing was outsourced to “termination engineers” who was someone outside of the company who had no attachment to the employees. Continue reading