Research: organisational culture, a key element for business success?
Published on 06/4/2019
Dongwon CHOI, Assistant Professor with the People and Organisations department, recently saw an article he co-wrote, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, rank 1 CNRS, FT 50 and 5* NEOMA BS.
Dongwon recently answered our questions to explain the results of his research called: “A meta-analytic test of organizational culture's association with elements of an organization's system and its relative predictive validity on organizational outcomes”.
In your research you talk about the prevalence of the "organisational culture" at the service of efficiency in any company. Can you explain why in more detail?
In the academic world, despite the popularity of the subject, many researchers have questioned the substantial existence and considerable influence of organisational culture on business success. They tend to prefer to compare this culture with notions of leadership or with an equivalent human resource management or strategy. To dispel all these doubts, we have accumulated existing empirical evidence to demonstrate the indispensable complementarity between organisational culture and other key factors of organisational systems such as strategy, structure, leadership or human resources.
How does this organisational culture work in practice?
Let's take a concrete example: when the directors of certain companies want to make changes to a specific aspect of their company, we try to explain that this will not necessarily lead to success. We prefer to advise them to adopt an integrative approach should they wish to modify certain aspects, and the results will be more positive. We like to say that "culture matters!" to avoid these unsuccessful attempts.
How did you manage to demonstrate the very existence of this concept?
We verified the authenticity of this concept of culture to predict various organisational efficiencies, after checking the impact of other factors. Our strength comes from the fact that our results are based on 148 independent samples collected from 26,196 companies. Such evidence allows us to take our research, and therefore our results, further. It is almost impossible for a single research team to collect data of this size. It is therefore easier to tackle the issue of organisational culture as a whole. Despite the considerable impact of culture on companies, many professionals struggle to recognise and analyse the nature of organisational culture. It has to be said that, compared to other aspects, it is very difficult to observe, classify and particularly difficult to adjust to be able to provide a correct answer. This article therefore suggests that although organisational culture is a difficult phenomenon to understand, it is in the interest of company directors to take the subject seriously.
According to your research, what are the different types of organisational culture?
Our results prove the existence of four types of organisational culture: Clan; Adhocracy; Market and Hierarchy. They are linked coherently to other elements of the organisational system. Business strategies have a real impact on cultural differences. For example, companies that adopt exploration strategies tend to have a higher level of clan/adhocracy culture. In contrast, companies that adopt exploitation and conservation strategies tend to have a higher level of hierarchical culture. Similarly, companies with a high level of hierarchical culture are less likely to adopt an organic organisational structure.
HARTNELL, C., A.OU, A.KINICKI, D.CHOI, E.KARAM, "A meta-analytic test of organizational culture's association with elements of an organization's system and its relative predictive validity on organizational outcomes.", Journal of Applied Psychology, 2019
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