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The Corporate Culture Survival Guide

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The Corporate Culture Survival Guide

Sense and Nonsense About Culture Change


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Culture counts. It’s rooted deeply in your company and influences every aspect of your daily business. But most managers take culture for granted — until it gets in the way.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Edgar H. Schein provides an excellent conceptual explanation of culture in general and corporate culture in particular. He shows how cultures arise and explains why it is so hard to examine and change an embedded culture. He also lays out practical plans for assessing culture. These plans are not simple or easy, but they promise great reward if carefully followed. Case studies illustrate the concepts and show how corporate problems can be seen in terms of culture. The first half of the book, which lays out the concepts of culture, is especially clear. The second half, which examines cultural issues in various kinds of organizations, uses more jargon and is a bit murkier. Overall, getAbstract recommends this book as especially useful for anyone dealing with change, be it moving to a new organization, considering or coping with a merger or acquisition, or even planning to work with people from another group, company or background.


Corporate Culture Basics

Culture counts. If you make decisions without considering culture, you may discover unanticipated and undesirable consequences. If you are aware of culture, you can anticipate consequences and decide whether you want them. If you want to make your organization more efficient, you must first grasp the role that culture plays in organizational life.

What is Corporate Culture?

When a group has enough common experience, it forms a culture. Cultures are formed at any scale, from workgroups to nations. Everyone belongs to many cultures and shows different cultural behaviors in different situations. Oversimplifying culture is very dangerous. Remember that culture exists on several levels:

  • Level One: Artifacts - The easiest way to observe culture is to observe artifacts: what you see, hear, and feel around the organization. You’ll observe how people interact, but you won’t know what that means until you discuss your observations with insiders.
  • Level Two: Espoused Values - Written material and personal descriptions may try to capture a company’s principles and values, its strategies, goals and philosophies. If you find inconsistencies...

About the Author

Edgar H. Schein  is a management consultant and professor emeritus at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Organizational Culture and Leadership, which has been translated into eight languages, and is known as a founding father in the field of corporate culture.

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