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Riding Waves of Culture


Organizational culture affects the design and implementation of organizational
structure. With its assumptions, values, norms, and attitudes, the culture
creates the context and the frame of reference used by those who design the
organizational structure. Also, the cultural context can significantly facilitate
or protract the implementation of the selected structure in its implementation
phase. Organizational culture legitimizes the behaviour and decisions imposed
on employees and management by the organizational structure within the
context of valid values and norms of behaviour. On the other hand, organizational
structure institutionalizes the culture, i.e., reflects its values, norms, and attitudes.
However, the organizational structure can strengthen or even change the existing
organizational culture. Therefore, the relation of organizational culture and
structure is twofold.
The operationalization of matching organizational culture and structure
becomes possible when we compare Handy’s and Trompenaar’s classifications
of types of organizational culture (Handy, 1996; Trompenaars, 1991) with
Mintzberg’s models of organizational structure (Mintzberg, 1979). In these
classifications both cultures and structures differ from one another according to
the same criteria: the criterion of distribution of power in an organization, and
the criterion of orientation towards tasks or people. As a result the hypotheses on
matching individual types of organizational culture and models of organizational
structure can be established. Role culture or ‘Eiffel Tower’ culture implies the
implementation of the bureaucratic model of organization; task culture or ‘guided
missile’ culture corresponds to the professional model of organization; power
culture, or family culture, corresponds to the implementation of the simple model
of organizational structure; and people culture, or incubator culture, implies the
implementation of the adhocracy model.