Economics and Business



Organizational Culture


Author: Paulo Nunes (Economist, Professor and Business Consultant)

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Date Created: 25/05/2011

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Key words:  management,

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Organizational Culture

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Organizational Culture Concept

According to L. Smircich’s definition in “Concepts of Culture and Organizational Analysis” Organizational Culture represents the behavior system, standards and social values (reference patterns that influence the way how people act and evaluate events) accepted and shared by all members of the organization and that in some way make it unique. Is, therefore, a set of unique characteristics that allow distinguishing the organization from all of the others. Corresponds to what represents an individual’s personality and shows the way how organization members behave according to the existent values’ system.

Organizational Culture significance is due to the factor of forming a strong motivation determinant in the organization, fact due to the performed tasks, namely:

- Give an identity feeling, union and collective participation to the organization members; 

- Encourage the people’s commitment;

- Guide and mold people’s behavior.


Stephen Robbins, in Organizational Behavior, highlights ten characteristics that bundled capture the essence of organizational culture:

- Identification: up until which point each employee identifies himself more with the organization than with his own career;

- Group Emphasis: reflects in which measure the work in the organization is organized based on teams or an individual base;

- Focus on People: up to which point management decisions have in consideration the impact on organization members;

- Departmental Integration: to which extent the different departments or divisions act in a coordinate and inter-dependant way;

- Control: which way rules, regulations and direct supervision are used to control an individual behavior;

-  Risk Tolerance: up until which point the organization members are encouraged to be aggressive, innovative and to face the risk;

- Reward Criteria: which way are awarded the rewards and which the factors that determine them;

- Conflict Tolerance: up to which extent the organization members are encouraged to face conflicts with open mind;

- Orientation for results: up to which point management is guided more for the results than for the means;

- Open or Closed System: up until which extent the organization is attentive to the external surroundings and acts in response to its changes.


Translated from Portuguese by Susana Saraiva, Portuguese-English and English-Portuguese translation specialist. Contact: