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Organizational culture has an impact on how a business functions. (O’Reilly III, Chatman, & Caldwell, 1991) echo the agreement of researchers over the years that culture may be an important factor in determining how well an individual fits an organizational context. I’ve witnessed the positive and negative effects of organizational culture both in regards to the individual as well as decision making, that has a profound effect on others. In the article Decision-Making: The Impact of Organizational Culture, (Buchanan, 2018) cites the positives of a small organizational structure with a culture of collaboration (everyone wearing multiple hats and helping each other out). At the same time she warns about misalignment between culture and behaviors and how evidence and data driven decision making, when used incorrectly, can have adverse results.
In my own experience, I have worked in organizations where the culture has dramatically shifted after changes including mergers and changes of leadership. In one specific example, I recall a time when core leadership had changed within our organization resulting in a push away from engineering practices to a digital agency culture. Engineers in my own division began to feel disjointed from the organization they had been a part of for years and this resulted in a direct impact on these employees, reinforcing the importance of culture at the individual level. I have also seen similar patterns with mergers whereby the once small (everyone wears multiple hats) mentality that Buchanan describes, doesn’t necessarily translate well within a new larger corporate environment.
Culture affects many facets of the organization and needs to be considered when changes present themselves at the organizational level. Management need to be proactive in mitigating risk from decisions that might be impacted by culture in a negative way, while taking advantage of the positive aspects of a working organizational culture. (Baiorunos, 2017) highlights the importance of explicitly defined and agreed-upon values, upholding these values, and designing cultural champions to uphold norms and behavior. While I focused a lot on change above, the importance of maintaining a stable and positive organizational culture is evident when considering the individual, and the decision making process.
Image Credits: Photo by Kelvin Zyteng on Unsplash.