Organizational Culture 3

Organizational cultures can be categorized in various ways and organizational cultural analysis must be one of the first steps to be taken in any knowledge management initiative (Dalkir, 2005, p.182).

Goffee and Johns (2000) identified four main types of organizational culture based on two dimensions:

  • sociability
  • solidarity.

Sociability was defined as friendliness in relationships between people in an organization. It means that actions are taken that favour others with no expectation of something in return. Sociability is consistent with a high people orientation, high team orientation, and focus on process rather than outcomes.

Solidarity measures the task orientation. High solidarity means that people can work well together toward common goals, even when they have personal disputes or conflicts (Dalkir, 2005, p. 181).

According to this classification scheme four types of organizational cultures can be identified:

  1. communal culture;
  2. networked culture;
  3. mercenary culture, and
  4. fragmented culture.

A communal culture can give its members a sense of belonging and is also task-driven. Leaders of this culture are usually very inspirational and charismatic. The negative side is that they often have too much influence and members are rarely vocal.

In a networked culture members are as friends and family who have close contacts and care about each other. They are willing to help each other and share information. The negative side is that they are so close and kind to each other that they are reluctant to criticize the poor performance.

A mercenary culture focuses on strict goals. The goals should be met and the job done quickly. Everyone focuses on goals and objectivity. The negative side is that those with poor performance may be treated inhumanely.

In a fragmented culture the sense of belonging to and identification with the organization is usually very weak. The individualists constitute the organizations, and their commitment is given first to individual members and task work. The negative side is that there is a lack of cooperation (Dalkir, 2005, pp.181-182).

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Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, 2012