PURPOSE: The purpose of this paper is to analyse the concept “organisational culture from a traditional and a more contemporary management perspective.
PROBLEM INVESTIGATED: The concept organizational culture has assumed a very prominent place within the management literature and has been analysed from diverse multidisciplinary perspectives. Central to the importance attributed to the concept is the fact that it acts as a perceptual and behavioural determinant, which implies that it will have a significant impact on all human related institutional activities and thus the interest in the concept and its management. Researchers and management practitioners have come to assume that while the concept is difficult to manage in practice, it is possible to determine the prevailing culture of an institution, identify what is termed to be a desired culture for an institution and then analyse the cultural gap that exists. Based on the analysis conducted, it is further frequently assumed that the transition from the prevailing to a desired culture can be managed. A more contemporary management perspective, based on complexity theory, would appear to challenge the assumption of being able to actively manage the organisation’s culture transformation process to ensure that a desired culture is manifest within the institution. The traditional and more contemporary approaches for dealing with the concept “organisational culture” are the focus of discussion and analysis in this paper.
METHODOLOGY: A multidisciplinary literature review and analysis is undertaken to gain an insight of traditional and contemporary management theory and practice, as it relates to the concept “organisational culture” and its management.
FINDINGS: An important conclusion drawn from the study is that traditional paradigms of organisational culture management, that evolved within a more mechanistic manufacturing economy, is no longer effective for dealing with the unpredictable and disruptive changes of a highly complex, competitive and turbulent global services economy. It is suggested that a more contemporary complexity theory approach in dealing with the concept may in fact be more appropriate.
VALUE OF THE RESEARCH: Increasingly executives and managers are confronted with the complex realities associated with managing a modern day enterprise in a very turbulent and emerging global services economy. The concept organisational culture, as a perceptual and behavioural determinant, will have a multifaceted influence in the management of the enterprise and the insights derived from this research study could assist executives and managers in dealing with organisational culture as an emergent property, as opposed to a purposefully managed entity.
CONCLUSION: A primary conclusion drawn from the study is that within a contemporary management setting the notion of organisational culture as an emergent, as opposed to actively managed, concept would appear to be more realistic. This would imply that executives and managers at best can attempt to influence its emergence and consequently its impact as a perceptual and behavioural determinant.