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Introductory Chapter: Organizational Culture - How Much Underused Potential Does Science Have?

Written By

Jolita Vveinhardt

Submitted: 27 January 2018 Published: 05 November 2018

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.81134

From the Edited Volume

Organizational Culture

Edited by Jolita Vveinhardt

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1. Why will research on organizational culture remain relevant?

A lot of popular tips and ideas that offer an organization the success in one or another field of its activity and are presented as deus ex machina reach the leaders of the organizations currently; as a result, it often becomes difficult to get a handle on this abundance.

However, quite a few executives or founders of organizations are surprised that the result did not meet their expectations. Why? Usually, this happens because of the fact that even in the twenty-first century, there are some people who look at the organization from the position that has been outdated for hundreds of years, as at a lifeless machine, where after the improvement of one or another detail, it should work better.

Future-oriented organizations, and more specifically, the people who manage them and work for them, should see the organization as an intellectual and smart entity, that consists of many minds, values and beliefs.

The assumptions of this approach are based on the researches that are becoming particularly active in recent decades, having understood that organizational culture is a significant phenomenon, explaining both the management and organizational dynamics and development [1], although the history of scientific exploration of the phenomenon comprises just a few decades, and it hardly received the attention of researchers until the beginning of the 1980s [2]. However, the comparatively short history of the research results from the fact that the areas of research investigating different aspects of life and management of the organization are not only intertwined and enrich one another but also allow presuming incredible results of these processes.

Drucker [3], observing the processes in the organizations at the end of the last century, accurately identified that creative human intellectual activity will become one of the most important investments of organizations in the new century and results of other studies support it by five key factors of organizational creativity, such as organizational climate, leadership style, organizational culture, resources and skills and structure and systems of an organization [4]. Reviews of newer studies highlight the impact of organizational culture on various knowledge management processes and their links with organizational performance [5, 6], considering the close relationship with the innovativeness of the organizations [7, 8], etc.

On the other hand, the studies do not yet provide unambiguous answers to the questions that arise to both practitioners in the management of organizations and scientists researching the phenomenon of organizational culture. Although some researches support the significance of organizational culture for performance, Scott et al. [9] who studied the researches of a strong culture and efficiency of organizational activities noted the fact that these relationships are not always confirmed; therefore, in order to find out the relationship between organizational culture (cultures) and activity (activities), much greater methodological resourcefulness is necessary. The studies miss unambiguous answers on how to manage cultural diversity in organizations [10]. In addition, Johnson et al. [11] argue that there is no single recipe of organizational culture change suitable for all. According to the authors, attention to context with key features including diagnosis and evaluation of culture, a combination of support from leaders and others in the organization and strategies to embed the culture change is important for the change process to happen. In this context, the analysis of studies conducted by Vom Brocke and Sinnl [12] shows that culture in business process management requires a more comprehensive holistic approach. And these are only some of the aspects of the broad palette of the exploration of the phenomenon of organizational culture, indicating the number of questions that still remain unanswered. It is difficult to find at least one area of organizational activities that would not be influenced by organizational culture, which is demonstrated by the directions of research conducted in recent decades and the abundance of this research.


2. The scientific community’s interest in the phenomenon of organizational culture

Publications of the Web of Science Core Collection (Clarivate Analytics) (hereafter WoS) database were selected for the analysis of scientific research. The search criteria were keywords ‘organizational culture’ in title, in topic and in search by highly cited in field (Table 1). Since the research starting from 1990 can be found in the WoS database, the statistics of publications from 1990 to 2018 was reviewed. The review of the change of the number of publications on the topic in the past 30 years shows the trends of growth of the number of studies indicating the scientific community’s interest in this phenomenon.

YearTitleHighly cited in fieldTopicHighly cited in fieldYearTitleHighly cited in fieldTopicHighly cited in field

Table 1.

Statistics of research published in 2008–2018 and 1990–2000.

Source: own.

Thus, from 1990 to the present day in 2018, organizational culture researches (according to the title search) were published in 2084 publications (according to the topic search in 16,382, from which 81 are highly cited in field). All of them show a non-decreasing interest in the phenomenon of organizational culture, but it should be noted that the dynamics of the change in highly cited prompts that are far from all research conducted during this period are assessed equally highly in the scientific community. Further, it is worthwhile discussing how the spectrum and topics of research on the organizational culture were changing during these years, disclosing new aspects of this phenomenon.


3. Thematic changes in the spectrum of research on organizational culture

Publications of the year 2018, i.e. 23 publications (group 1), and research papers published in 1990, i.e. 20 publications (group 2), were selected for further analysis. Review of organizational culture studies of 2018 is presented in Table 2.

Researches of organizational culture and insightsDocument typeSource
Influence of organizational culture on innovativeness is examined. While organizational culture was found to have negative relationship with innovativeness, organizational resources showed a significant positive relationship with innovativeness among the shipbuilding companiesArticle[13]
Influence of organizational culture on employees‘ attitude is analyzed. The impact of organizational culture affecting performance was found to be the main issue that merits attention from this researchArticle[14]
Associations between teamwork, innovation, orientation to results, attention to detail and environmental performance management model are examined. It is stated that teamwork is positively associated with the extent use of environmental activity analysis, innovation is positively associated with the extent use of both environmental activity cost analysis and environmental activity-based costing and attention to detail is positively associated with the extent use of environmental activity-based costingArticle[15]
This is an empirical research of organizational culture and work and environmental learning transfer factors in organizations. Flexible organizations (defined as mainly clan and/or adhocracy cultures) support learning transfer environment more than stable organizations (defined as market and/or hierarchy cultures)Article[16]
The relationships of four elements of organizational culture, such as trust, employee communication, reward, management, learning and development, organizational socialization and knowledge transfer in the public sector organizations, are examined. According to the authors, socialization is found to play a moderating role in all the hypothesized relationships except between reward and knowledge transferArticle[17]
The relationship between organizational culture and early mortality of the patients of healthcare institutions with HIV is examined. It was found that deliberate efforts to improve individual health facility leadership and inculcate an adhocratic culture may lower mortality and morbidityArticle[18]
The influence of supervisor’s job insecurity on the subordinates’ work was investigated; it was also aimed to test the moderating role of organizational culture between supervisor’s job insecurity and the subordinates’ prosocial voice. Results of this research foster the creation of an organizational culture, allowing subordinates to challenge their supervisor’s decisionsArticle[19]
Authors researched relationships among green organizational culture, green innovation and competitive advantage in the hotel industry. It was found that green organizational culture has a positive effect on green innovation and competitive advantageArticle[20]
A model in which the firm’s cultural fit changes with the sequence of knowledge management-based business processes including sharing, learning, evaluation and production is presented and then analytically investigated the design of knowledge sharing rewards as well as the business process sequence to shape a firm’s organizational cultural fit and maximize its profitArticle[21]
The relationship of business process management with the types of organizational culture is examined. Organizations perform more successfully when, for example, the business process management initiative is rolled out in the entire organization if the organization has clan, market or hierarchy culture, etc.Article[22]
The reasons for which academics quit jobs, in the context of the impact of leadership, organizational commitment and organizational culture are examined. It is concluded that the leaders should recognize the leadership impact, as leaders’ behavior can motivate the commitment of higher school employees and reduce the turnover intentionsArticle[23]
The role of organizational culture, which is characterized by emotional commitment and job satisfaction in public sector organizations, is studied. It was found that bureaucratic culture negatively affects organizational commitment and the impact of affective commitment on employees’ job satisfaction is moderated by supportive and innovative culturesArticle[24]
The relationship of organizational culture and performance is investigated. The research conducted by the authors provides supporting empirical evidence for the culture-performance link by identifying the principle culture value characteristics (strength and unbalance), which exert both direct and interaction effects on the introvert and extrovert aspects of firm performanceArticle[25]
The impact of organizational culture on knowledge management is analyzed by examining the impact of job satisfaction in banking Results of the research show that the weak and unstable organizational culture and knowledge management development may adversely affect the development of the sectorArticle[26]
Authors research how the disciplinary power is manifested and interpreted by teachers in the face of the elements of the organizational culture in private higher education institutions. It was found that the quality of teaching is weaker when the teacher becomes a mere executor of teaching programmes with reduced autonomy and control of their activitiesArticle[27]
The authors examine the theory of public value, informal professional networks and organizational culture. Based on structural equation, the obtained results show that informal professional networks are positively associated with higher discretionary power and a proactive asset maintenance organizational cultureArticle[28]
It is examined how organizational innovation can be accelerated by supporting management structures and organizational climate, taking into account the innovative examples of universities in the world. On the basis of the results of the research, the authors state that universities and research institutes should draft and implement guidelines where leaders with certain traits and norms can play a role to nourish an environment where stakeholders think outside the box, with learning and knowledge creation and proactive contribution beyond responsibilities, obligations and compulsionArticle[29]
Authors research the contribution of interorganizational relations (including suppliers and customers) to the organizational cultural change. It was found that interorganizational culture is developed as a system of symbols and meanings, which is shared by groups of different organizations or persons during the transition period, because cultural fragmentation perspectives are predominantArticle[30]
The author draws attention to the fact that religion is a pervasive organizing framework and in terms of communication, its role in the socialization processes has to be understood and evaluatedArticle[31]
The influence of organizational culture and climate on the services provided by healthcare institutions is studied. It is noted that the degree of concordance between administrators and clinicians in their reports of organizational culture and climate may have implications for research design, inferences and organizational interventionArticle[32]
Organizational culture and climate studies and the role of the national culture are discussed. The organizations seeking to become prospective are recommended to integrate modern climate and cultural way of thinking and scientific research in this area into their practiceArticle[33]
The authors of the research measure organizational culture, divided into three aspects (bureaucratic, supportive and innovative), taking into account the demography of respondents. It was found that gender differences did not have a significant impact on evaluation of organizational culture, unlike the age criteriaArticle[34]
Government support and influence of organizational culture on sustainable construction are examined. Positive relationship between adhocracy culture and sustainable construction was found; however, government support was found to moderate the relationship between adhocracy culture and sustainable construction, while an insignificant interaction effect was found between market orientation and sustainable constructionArticle[35]

Table 2.

Researches of organizational culture in publications of 2018.

Source: own.

Thus, 23 publications have been registered in the WoS database in 2018 until May; however, not only the formal dates but also the fact that the researches have to go a long way before publishing must be taken into account. In any case, when looking at both the geography of the published researches (the USA, Jordan, India, Brazil, Malaysia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, etc.), at the areas of activity of the investigated organizations and at the topics, we can see that considerable attention is also given to organizations operating in developing markets, covering a wide range of organizational activities and impact on the society in the context of organizational culture in recent years. In response to the challenges faced by organizations, researchers turn their attention to the interactions of organizational culture with the efficiency of the organization, management of activity and leadership problems. The relationship with employees is particularly highlighted, as well as their response to actions of the organization. Knowledge management, responsibility to the stakeholders, relations with them, etc. are also emphasized. Aspects of organizational culture and climate and classical distribution of organizational culture, on the basis of which researches are carried out in modern organizations, remain relevant in research perspective, together with the emerging understanding of the significance of networks of relationships between persons within and outside organizations on organization culture, which provides the background for update of theoretical approaches. Despite abundant research to examine organizational culture and existing theories, the contexts of national social and cultural distinctions provide new aspects and expand the knowledge of the analyzed phenomenon.

Thus, in comparison with the papers, which were published in 1990 (Table 3), we see how the thematic field expanded on the basis of measurement and assessment of organizational culture developed by the researches in recent decades, strengthened by organizational culture impact on innovation, knowledge management and relationships not only within an organization but also between different organizations.

Results of researchesDocument typeSource
It was determined that in volunteer organizations security-oriented normative beliefs are negatively related to both fund-raising success and to staff job attitudesArticle[36]
The results of this research indicate that people who interacted with each other had similar interpretations of organizational events and that members of different interaction groups attached qualitatively different meanings to similar organizational eventsArticle[37]
The author, based on practical experience in the steel industry, grounds the role of the organizational culture to organizational changesNote[38]
Organizational culture is defined as a system of shared values which produces normative pressure inside organizations, affects motivation or members of the organization and enhances their commitmentArticle[39]
With reference to Schein, the meaning of organizational culture and leadership to organizational activity is highlightedBook review[40]
It is stated that the concept of ‘rite’ developed by an anthropologist nearly a century ago has current value for school organizational cultureArticle[41]
It was determined that measurements of employee values differed more according to the demographic criteria of nationality, age and education than according to membership in the organizationArticle[42]
The authors present a quantitative approach in measuring and interpreting organizational culture based on established norms and expected behavior, by supplementing methodology of organizational culture researchesArticle[43]
It is stated that there is increased dependence of academic science on external resources with attendant consequences for academic cultureArticle[44]
Members of an organization are confronting contradictory management signals, which cause a problem of double bind phenomenon. According to the author, understanding the double bind phenomenon should be seen as being important for managing organizations in general and for the change and the management of change in particularArticle[45]
A significance of organizational culture’s structural elements, functions and thinking features that are distinguished in the book is highlightedBook review[46]
In the theories of organizations, a new concept of organizational health by relating it with culture and assessing the factors influencing employees’ health is groundedEditorial material[47]
The demand for new ideas on effective management in a society creates a favorable medium for development of organizational culture theoryArticle[2]
By analyzing friendship patterns, it is stated that the control of organizational diversity may be as much an interpersonal initiative as it is a prerogative of management manipulationArticle[48]
The author’s attitude to how a culture should be defined and analyzed in the field of organizational psychology is presentedReview[49]
By assessing the fact that managers of organizations must deal with high amounts of uncertainty, a discussion in the context of organizational culture how it is related to management science or management is developedNote[50]
Attempts to reform organizational culture in the Chinese national context are discussedProceeding paper[51]
The authors state that engineers who want to manage and change organizational culture must become comfortable with hoopla and symbolism to add drama and life to their words and plansProceeding paper[52]
In complex a significance of employees’ perception on ethical behavior, organizational culture and communication with managers is groundedProceeding paper[53]
In the context of organizational culture, the issues of ergonomics, group relationship, employees’ development and managers’ training are analyzed. The focus is on the relationship of VDT and employees’ healthProceeding paper[54]

Table 3.

Organizational culture research directions in the publications of 1990.

Source: own.

A considerable part of published papers were reviews of researches significant for the development of theory. Schein’s organizational culture system, distinguishing in this context, undoubtedly influenced the subsequent researchers, alongside grounding the relationships of organizational culture and organizational climate, leadership, laying the foundations of measuring and interpreting, etc. The insights of Hofstede [55, 56, 57] about the impact of the national culture on organizational culture opened new areas of research that expand the understanding of organizational culture, as well as raise new objectives to the scientists researching the phenomenon and provide new opportunities to international companies to apply national specificities and differences in practice [58, 59, 33]. So, on the one hand, this brief comparison of the episodes of research of 1990 and 2018 shows how scientists’ view penetrated into the depth and broadened in response to the emerging challenges. On the other hand, it shows the complexity and multidimensionality of the phenomenon of organizational culture, and it becomes the untapped potential for new studies.


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Written By

Jolita Vveinhardt

Submitted: 27 January 2018 Published: 05 November 2018