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Defining organisational culture

Read this article where we discuss definitions of organisational culture.

What do we mean by ‘organisational culture’?

Boddy defines organisational culture as:

… the set of values, beliefs, norms and assumptions that are shared by a group and that guide their interpretations of, and responses to, their environments.
(Boddy, 2020, p. 536)

Organisational culture is based on widely-accepted unwritten rules that have been developed over time, and is demonstrated by:

  • The way an organisation conducts its business and treats its employees, customers and the wider community
  • The extent to which freedom of expression is encouraged in decision making, developing new ideas and the extent to which employees contribute to organisational objectives
  • How authority and information flow through its hierarchy

It therefore heavily influences how committed employees are towards collective objectives.

A single organisation can contain a variety of cultures. This may justify a mix of organisational design approaches, depending on which ways of working are effective in achieving business objectives in a particular part of the organisation. Moreover, national cultures have to be considered when designing global corporations, with a need to consider ‘organisations within an organisation’. What we mean by this, is that within a global organisation there could be individual business units in different locations. They are part of the global organisation, but distinct in their own right. Global companies are an example of how complex organisational design can be.


Boddy, D. (2020). Management: Using practice and theory to develop skill (8th ed.). Pearson Education.

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