Home Concepts Organizational Theory The Organizational “House of Culture”

The Organizational “House of Culture”

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A Network of Influencers or Change Agents

In large global organizations with thousands of employees, leaders and managers can be limited in their impact on behavior and culture change – simply because there are sometimes not enough of them. An “army’ of influencers or change agents who are passionate about company success and change can have a powerful impact on behavior change – often more so than managers and senior leaders largely because they are “one of us” – they are co-workers who are often trusted by their colleagues and can influence behavior moment by moment more effectively than anyone else. The role of trusted influencer is not grade or seniority specific. Leaders and managers should look for, and solicit, team members of any grade level and prepare them for a broader role in helping, coaching and nurturing behavior change with colleagues at all levels at every opportunity.

National Culture with Organizational Culture

Hammerich and Lewis (2013) use a graphic metaphor for describing how culture, and specifically national culture, is invisible to most business leaders and managers – they call this myopia “Fish Can’t See Water”. The authors describe how little research has been done on the intersection of corporate and national cultures, and yet how profound this intersection can be if ignored and poorly managed. While Gert Hofstede’s work (2010) utilizing research of IBM’s international operations is most often quoted, Hammerich and Lewis provide an insightful and compelling discussion of how to manage this intersection and the risks involved in ignoring it. My own personal experience with a project in Kazakhstan, working alongside Kazaks, Russians, Australians and other contractors from various European countries as well as Americans, showed clearly that companies that are aware of and manage these intersections achieve significant benefits, and those that do not can struggle in their change efforts. Being South African born, and working in a large retail banking group during the transition South Africa made under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, I had the privilege of experiencing  first-hand how national cultures can clash (or synergize) with organizational cultures under various conditions. There is little doubt in my mind that this is an area of organizational culture change that will become increasingly important in future years.

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