In this chapter, you were introduced to organizational culture and climate as well as their differentiating characteristics. You should also know now that they matter—a poor organizational culture, in many ways, can be a make-or-break factor for an organization. Organizational cultures are often taken very seriously by organizations. By learning about organizational cultures and how they work, you are improving your employability by enabling you to adapt to distinct types of cultures, to craft positive organizational cultures if you are to be in a leadership position, and to demonstrate your fit with the values of a company at which you are interviewing. You are also aware of the negative aspects of organizational culture, which will help you avoid or circumvent potentially troublesome situations when you are either on the job or applying to an organization that might have a negative organizational culture. In this chapter, you improved your communication skills by considering the forces of organizational culture change, learning how to be a better leader, differentiating between compassionate cultures in the banking industry, and debating whether it is possible to “measure” organizational culture. In the next section, you will improve your critical thinking and knowledge application and analysis skills by designing an organizational culture of your own, examining how cultures can encourage dishonesty or corruption, discussing how aspects of office and organizational design contribute to organizational culture, and questioning the pros and cons of an active culture.
Experiential Exercise Culture Architects
Form groups of three to four students. Each group will be the founders of a new organization. The members of each group will draw on what they learned in the chapter and other materials to set the foundation for an effective organizational culture for their new company. Each group will need to provide the following information about their new culture and to justify their answers:
• Name of the organization
• Product or service provided
• Founding members
• Mission or vision statement
• Three primary values guiding the organization
• Five core beliefs that guide the conduct of business in the ¬organization
• Three examples of organizational policies, practices, or procedures that further the organization’s vision or that reinforce the values
• One or more artifacts or symbols that represent the organization’s mission or values (can be a logo, description of clothes, use of language or jargon, and so on)
- 16-7. Was it difficult to come to a consensus on any of these elements when crafting the culture? What sorts of disagreements arose and how did you solve them?
- 16-8. Do you think this foundation will definitely lead to the culture you intended? Why or why not? What sorts of changes, roadblocks, or other events might you see changing the culture or making it drift toward something that was not intended?
- 16-9. What types of specific socialization practices could you use so that new employees can best adapt to the organizational culture?
Ethical Dilemma Culture of Deceit
We have noted throughout the text that honesty is generally the best policy in managing OB. But that doesn’t mean honest dealing is always the rule in business.
Studies have found, in fact, that whole industries may encourage dishonesty. In one experiment, subjects were first asked either to think about their professional identities or to complete a generic survey. They were then asked to report on a series of coin flips; they were told in advance that the more times the coin showed heads, the more money they would make. The bankers who took the generic survey were about as honest in reporting coin flips as people who worked in other fields. The bankers told to think about their professional identities, however, exaggerated how often the coin turned up heads. People in other professions didn’t do so—the tie between professional identity and dishonesty was unique to those who worked in banking. These results are certainly not limited to the banking industry. Many other ways of priming people to think about financial transactions seem to generate more dishonesty. And studies have also found that many individuals feel pressured to engage in dishonest behavior to meet the bottom line. Money provides powerful motives for dishonesty.
Money motivations are strong in professional sports. For example, the number of top leaders in FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the international governing body of association football [soccer], futsal, and beach soccer) who were indicted in 2015 suggests that behaving dishonestly has been accepted within FIFA and covering up for the dishonesty of others has been encouraged. Domenico Scala, FIFA’s audit and compliance committee chair, noted, “To support the change we need a culture that censures inappropriate behavior and enforces rules vigorously, fairly, and [is] responsive.” There is consensus that to overcome corruption, those in positions of authority must demonstrate commitment to an ethical culture. As Scala noted, “It is the leaders’ tone that ensures it is embedded at all levels of the organization. This must be honest and communicated with sincerity in both words and actions.” There may well be a tendency to become dishonest when there’s money to be made, so leaders may need to be especially vigilant and communicate clear expectations for ethical behavior.
Fortunately, evidence shows that asking people to focus on relationships and the way they spend their time can make them behave more honestly and helpfully. This suggests that a focus on the social consequences of our actions can indeed help to overcome corruption.
- 16-10. What are the negative effects of a culture that encourages dishonesty and corruption on an organization’s reputation and its employees?
- 16-11. Why might some organizations push employees to behave in a dishonest or corrupt manner? Are there personal benefits to corruption that organizational culture can counteract?
- 16-12. What actions can you take as a new employee if you are pressured to violate your own ethical standards at work? How might midlevel employees’ responses to this question differ from those of more senior managers?
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