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Organizational Culture and Leadership, Fourth Edition by Edgar H. Schein

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Chapter 2. THE THREE LEVELS OF CULTURE

The purpose of this chapter is to show that culture can be analyzed at several different levels, with the term level meaning the degree to which the cultural phenomenon is visible to the observer. Some of the confusion surrounding the definition of what culture really is results from not differentiating the levels at which it manifests itself. These levels range from the very tangible overt manifestations that you can see and feel to the deeply embedded, unconscious, basic assumptions that I am defining as the essence of culture. In between these layers are various espoused beliefs, values, norms, and rules of behavior that members of the culture use as a way of depicting the culture to themselves and others. ...

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