Chief Characteristics Of Organizational Culture – Functions Of Organizational Culture

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Organizational culture consists of values, norms, rituals, assumptions and beliefs that are shared by the employees of the organization. Different organizations consist of different organizational cultures.

Characteristics of organizational culture

Innovation and risk taking

The organizational culture plays a very important role in making the employees of the organization innovative and risk takers. Development of creativity is essential for any organization as it helps in the development of its employees. An organization would never be able to progress in future if it does not promote creativity among its employees.


These are the standards of behavior and guidelines. The employees should adhere to these norms to preserve the culture of the organization.

Attention to detail

It refers to the extent to which employees are required to develop the attributes of attention to detail, analysis and precision.

Outcome orientation

It is an extent to which employees of the organization are pressurized to give attention to the outcome of their work instead of focusing on means and processes of achieving them. This characteristic of organizational culture sometimes forces the employees to behave unethically.

People orientation

It refers to the extent to which the management thinks about their employees while making a decision. When the effects of any decision are seriously considered by the organization before implementing it then the organization is said to be people oriented.  The development of any organization is possible only when it values its employees and gives importance to their suggestions.

Team orientation

If an organization gives importance to team efforts more than to individual efforts, then it is said to be team oriented. The importance of team work is increasing as it helps in the generation of innovative ideas.

Dominant values

These are the adopted values that are shared among the employees of the organization. High productivity, low absenteeism etc. are the examples of dominant values.


When a person gets selected in an organization then he or she has to follow the guidelines and rules laid down by the organization. The rules help the new employees to get acquainted with the working environment of the organization and perform their tasks efficiently.

Observed behavioral regularities

These include terminology, rituals, symbols and the common language used by the employees of the organization while interacting with each other.

Organizational climate

It includes the layout of the organization, the way of interaction between the employees and the customers etc. Some organizations do not design a layout to give their employees a comfortable organizational climate.


It refers to policies and guidelines of an organization. Different organizations have different philosophies.

Due to the difference in religious and social values of the employees, a variation has been noticed in the culture and values shared by them. Thus, two types of cultures exist within the organization- dominant culture and subculture. In dominant culture, the core values are shared by a majority of people. Subcultures are values and norms shared by small group of people.

Subcultures are formed when people share common interest with each other and form social groups on the basis of professional skills, union membership, age etc. Subculture is generally formed in large organizations where people share common experiences and problems with each other. Conflicts between the dominant culture and subculture can make the organization weak.

The strength of the organization depends upon two factors- sharedness and intensity. Sharedness refers to the degree to which the core values are shared by the employees. The new employees should be introduced to the core values of the organization. An induction program arranged for new employees helps them to get familiar with the assumptions, norms and values of the organization. After completing the program, new employees are able to adapt to their working environment better.

When the employees who strictly adhere to the organizational values are rewarded then the rest of the employees are also inspired to give importance to these values. Intensity refers to the degree to which the employees show commitment towards the core values of the organization. The strength of the organizational culture increases as the degree of intensity and sharedness increases. A strong organizational culture will lead to low attrition rate and the loyalty of the employees will increase.

Types of culture

Market culture

It is an achievement oriented culture. The organization having this culture focuses in increasing its productivity and efficiency by interacting with the external environment. Leaders of the organization follow directive style of leadership. The performance of the employees is evaluated on the basis of the contributions made by them.

Clan culture

The leaders give support to their employees. All the employees participate in the decision making process. They work according to the norms and values of the organization. The performance rating is given on the basis of values adopted by the employees and relationships maintained by them with other employees.


The organization with an adhocracy culture does not believe in formal rules and regulations and try to set up an informal organization. Such organizations are flexible and adaptable to external environmental changes. Managers working in such organizations are creative and risk takers. The employees who are committed to the organizational values and norms are given high performance ratings.

Hierarchical culture

This culture has a conservative style of leadership. The performance of subordinates is monitored by their leaders. It is compulsory for the employees to strictly adhere to the norms of the organization.

Functions of organizational culture

The values, traditions, norms, rituals etc. are different in different organizations. Organization culture provides a sense of identity to the employees. The common values, ideologies and assumptions shared by the employees lead to their collective commitment towards the objectives and goals of the organization. A strong culture creates a social bond among the employees of the organization. The individual differences are minimized with the help of standards and values laid down by the organization.

These values, assumptions and norms govern the behavior of the employees. Employees who do not follow these norms and values are not considered to be a part of the organization. They are also not considered for any rewards or promotions. With the introduction of flattened organizational structures, reduced formalization and team work, the importance of organizational culture has increased. Organizational culture plays a very important role in controlling the behavior of the employees.