Chapter 20 cultural approach to organizations

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Geertz and Pacanowsky
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1

Cultural approach to organizations

-Geertz views cultures as webs of shared meaning, understanding, and sense making
-Pacanowsky applied Geertz culture insights to organizational life

2

Culture and Organizational life

corporate/organizational culture has varied meanings
-surrounding environment that constrains a company's freedom to act
- A quality or property of the organization
- Pacanowsky: not something an organization has, something an organization is

3

Cultural performance

actions by which members constitute and reveal their culture to themselves and others
-"residue of employee performances"
- Geertz labeled its study a soft science

4

Ethnography

Mapping social discourse; discovering who people within a culture think they are, what they think they are doing, and to why they think they are doing it
- participant observation
-Thick description- a record of intertwined layers of common meaning that underlie what people say and do

5

Ethnography and organizational culture

Pacanowsky: pay attention to all cultural performances,especially: imaginative language of members, stories told, nonverbal rites and rituals

6

Metaphor

clarifies what is unknown/confusing by equating it with an image that is more familiar/vivid
- a starting place for accessing shared meaning of a corporate culture
-example: Disney "cast members"

7

Corporate stories

tales that carry management ideology, reinforce company policy

8

Personal stories

Tales told by employees that put them in a favorable light

9

Collegial stories

positive or negative anecdotes about others in the organization; how things "really work"

10

Ritual

often mark rites of passage or life transitions
-weave together many threads of corporate culture
- some are sacred and difficult to change

11

Can culture be changed?

culture is difficult to manipulate
-shared meanings are hard to dispel
-symbol watchers within a company discount words of management if they don't square with performance