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Organizational Culture and Leadership, 5th Edition by Peter Schein, Edgar H. Schein

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1HOW TO DEFINE CULTURE IN GENERAL

The Problem of Defining Culture Clearly

Culture has been studied for a long time by anthropologists and sociologists, resulting in many models and definitions of culture. Some of the ways that they have conceptualized the essence of culture illustrate the breadth as well as the depth of the concept. Most of the categories that follow refer primarily to macro cultures such as nations, occupations, or large organizations but some are also relevant to micro or subcultures. As you will see from the pattern of references, many researchers use several of these definitional categories, and they overlap to a considerable degree. Culture as we will see exists at many levels of “observabilty.” The categories are arranged roughly according to the degree to which you, as an observer, will be able to see and feel those cultural elements when you observe an organization or group.

  • Observed behavioral regularities when people interact: The language they use along with the regularities in the interaction such as “Thank you” followed by “Don’t mention it,” or “How is your day going so far,” “Just fine.” Observed interaction patterns, customs, and traditions become evident in all groups in a variety of situations (e.g., Goffman, 1959, 1967; Jones, Moore, & Snyder, 1988; Trice & Beyer, 1993; Van Maanen, 1979).
  • Climate: The feeling that is conveyed in a group by the physical layout and the way in which members of the organization interact with each other, with ...

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