Identifying Organizational Culture

The Ronald McDonald Center clearly illustrates the importance of community to McDonald's. The corporate culture specialist Schein states that there are no reliably quick ways to identify the cultural assumptions of people in organizations.

He recommends observing, talking to people, collecting archival data, listening to stories, and so on, until a pattern finally emerges. Hamburger University is clearly a powerful training and socialization tool. This method would be one way to get an idea about the culture of one's own organization. The emphasis on "quality, service, cleanliness and value" informs employees of what the company does well and what all workers should focus on. Other authors point out that organizations are embedded in larger cultures from which they draw values and assumptions and that we can learn much from going into organizations and examining cultural scenes. Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's, is memorialized and humanized for all to see. Other approaches to assessing culture result in pictures different from this one. Sometimes the themes appear to contradict one another, but often contradictions can be resolved. Learning to identify an organization's culture can be a valuable tool to understanding what the organization is all about.

A manager might find it useful to catalog the myths and stories that circulate in his own organization and ask whether they share some common meaning purposeful to the organization. These examinations begin with a description of an interaction that took place and end with a meaningful explanation of that interaction, which may elucidate various themes. Choosing an organization in which to work and being happy about that choice after the fact requires insight into organizational culture. Several of these assessment criteria are present in the McDonald's case. A quick assessment of the culture might be obtained by examining the arrangement and feel of the organization's physical design or examining its reward systems.


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