The study of cultural anthropology has been around over one hundred years. The study of organizational culture has been around less than half as long—strongly driven by researcher, author, and MIT Professor of Management Emeritus Edgar H. Schein.
Schein describes the essence of organizational culture as the learned, shared, tacit assumptions on which people base their daily behavior. It is popularly thought of as ‘the way we do things around here’, but even employees in the organization cannot without help reconstruct the assumption on which daily behavior rests. They only know that this is the way, and they count on it. Life becomes predictable and meaningful.
Self-managed organizations would do well to thoroughly understand and appreciate their respective cultures. Healthy respect for culture can and should factor into all kinds of management decisions, from selection (do this person’s behavior patterns fit our company?) to strategic (what are the risk factors for a proposed merger or acquisition?).
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PUBLISHED BY THE MORNING STAR SELF-MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE, SYNAPTEIIN, SPRING 2012