Organisational Culture & Change Management

illustration for organisational culture

The research of Geert Hofstede has shown that cultural differences between nations are particularly found at the deepest level, the level of values. In comparison, cultural differences among organisations are principally identified at the level of practices. Practices are more tangible than values.

Organisational Culture can be defined as "the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one organisation from others."

The Organisational Cultural model, further developed by Bob Waisfisz in collaboration with Geert Hofstede, consists of six autonomous dimensions (variables) and two semi-autonomous dimensions.

Please note that the model on Organisational Culture that we describe on this website is a derivative of Geert Hofstede's research findings, and therefore not identical to the descriptions of Organisational Culture that can be found in Hofstede's publications.  

More about Organisational Culture

Hofstede’s research shows that organisational cultures differ mainly at the level of practices. These are more superficial and more easily learned and unlearned than values forming the core of national cultures. As a consequence, the Hofstede dimensions of national cultures cannot be used by comparing cultures of organisations within the same country. The two models describe different layers of our reality. 

National culture is one of the many factors shaping organisational culture next to such factors as personality of founder, feelings of insecurity, expectations of stakeholders and type of technology in use. Thus, organisations in the same country are normally shaped by the same national culture, unless regional cultural differences are very big such as in Italy or Switzerland.

The Organisational Cultural research project

A research project aimed at mapping organisational culture was conducted by around 20 research fellows in the 1980s in Denmark and the Netherlands headed by Geert Hofstede. The project was successful as it resulted in a model. Contrary to what people often believe, such models don’t explain anything. Yet, they can be very useful, at least if they allow us to analyse work reality and to think and communicate about work reality in a meaningful way.

Once cultures of organisations have been mapped, we can indicate whether culture will enable or hinder realisation of whatever objective the management wants to realise, at least if group behaviour is playing a role. The latter is mostly the case in organisations, as everybody knows that putting ten clever people together doesn’t necessarily result in the creation of a clever group. 

The Organisational Cultural model (further developed by Bob Waisfisz in collaboration with Geert Hofstede) consists of six autonomous dimensions (variables) and two semi-autonomous dimensions.

The model is called “The Hofstede Model - on strategy, culture and change” (read more at  www.hofstedemodel.com)

The word “strategy” implies that culture and strategy ought to be linked together. By mapping cultures we know how people in organisations relate to each other, to their work and to the outside world, called “actual culture”. The actual culture will not tell us whether it will enable or hinder realisation of the mission, vision, objectives and strategies in the best possible way. That has to be defined, by translating the above in terms of culture, called “optimal culture”. Given that the dimensions in the model are precisely defined, it is doable to define the optimal culture, then to assess discrepancies between actual and optimal culture, and to bridge the gaps if so required.