How Cultural Dimensions Influence Organizational Structures
Cultural assumptions have a great and profound impact on organizational structure, leadership, and decision-making determining the main methods and tools used to achieve long-term growth and profitability. Different cultures have different perceptions of time, space, and human relations. As a decision-maker, the leader’s role is to create relevant order, coherence, and committed synergy, through others, over events frequently outside his or her direct control and in operating environments where little certainty exists.
Essentially, this has been the lot of leaders since organized human Endeavour first began, but new influences and forces are changing the styles and primary contributions of leaders, in relation to their ‘followers’ and colleagues. For instance, “the company measured output, not number of hours on the job, and generally held an idealistic view of human nature.” What is changing – markedly, it seems – are the values, expectations, and aspirations of people, which reflect a new paradigm, revolutionary thinking. Increasingly, they are coming to value, more than hitherto, awareness, integrity, courage, and competence, as crucial determinants of the decisions they look to leaders to make.
Deep cultural dimensions described by Schein influenced the organizations through attitudes, values, and perceptions of employees and their life expectations. In some cases, the organization has to adapt to its needs in order to maintain positive culture and morale. “In a modern organization, just as in an agrarian society, time appears to impose a structure of workdays, calendars, careers, and life-cycles that we learn and live in as part of our cultures.” The traditional leader’s concerns with power, rank, and status – and all that goes with positional authority – are valued less and less and, consequently, receive scant respect from people who expect higher levels of egalitarianism, professional autonomy, and empowerment from their managers. In addition, an understanding and consideration of the underlying values of an organization and its organizational culture are essential to a successful planning effort.
There must be congruence between the organization’s values and its strategy. The work culture created to support these high-performance systems seems to force out those unfitted to its demands. This would appear to put a severe upper limit on the expansion potential of high-performance systems founded on the principles of scientific management. The power of the leader to make decisions for the organization regarding morale and strategy is another significant means of shaping healthy culture. By determining the hierarchy, the span of control, the reporting relationship, and the degree of formalization and specialization, the leader molds culture.