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What is a culture? How does it affect the behaviour of an individual?

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Introduction

1.INTRODUCTION What is a culture? How does it affect the behaviour of an individual? Does it play a major role in determining the response of an organisation, to its routine and unexpected situations? Management today is all about getting things done through people (Hofstede, 1980). In order to do this effectively one has to understand and know the people who have to do them. And here the notion of culture has its significance. Culture here is seen as the predicted behaviour and the shared ways of thinking of an individual in a group. Here culture is not a property of individual, but of group. This group can be a nation, region, ethnic group or a work organisation. As various authors have shown (Hofstede, 1980; Hall, 1990; Robbins, 1993) that national differences-that is, national cultures- hold a key significance for managers in order to understand the behaviour of a worker, as it is inherent and hence affects the behaviour of an individual the most. But how much does it affect the nature of an individual? If you know somebody's national culture can you predict his/her behaviour? To a certain extent yes, but the accuracy of your prediction is not guaranteed (Mead, 1998). However if this prediction is not certain then what impact will it have on the organisational culture? IKEA, a global player in furniture industry, has established itself successfully in all parts of Europe, Middle East, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, is renowned for their strong and living culture. ...read more.

Middle

One of the most mysterious aspects of organisational culture is, how it originates and equally mysterious is its evolution (Schein). Every organisation has its unique culture even they may not have consciously tried to create it. Rather it may have been created unconsciously, based on the value of the founder and/or the top management and/or the other core people who build or direct the organisation. But in order to see the creation of culture and different factors that have an affect on the organisational culture, we need a working definition of organisational culture. Many authors have given different definitions of organisational culture. Some of them believe that it is a system of commonly held and relatively stable beliefs, attitudes and values within an organisation (Williams, Hofstede). According to Schein, the stress, in an organisational culture, is on shared, taken for granted assumptions held by the members of that group. John Ellis and David Williams stress on the values, norms and behaviour, which govern how the collective organisation will work. But there seems to be a wide agreement between them that organisational culture refers to a system of shared beliefs and common perception held by the members of an organisation. Most of these beliefs and assumptions are learnt from the environment common to its members. Once a debated assumption, if leads to success, starts to work outside the consciousness and become taken for granted (Schein). ...read more.

Conclusion

National culture influences the way in which managers and employee make decisions and interpret their roles (Mead). Since its more deep and ingrained, it affects the psychology of each individual, but within a national culture, values of members are also influenced by a lot of factors such as education, family environment, upbringing and even geographical conditions (Mead). In a nation, where so much of subcultures exist, it seems a very generalised view to predict somebody's behaviour. This type of stereotyping doesn't do any good for managers. However, though these stereotypes are necessary, they are far from sufficient (Schneider, B.). In case of IKEA, its apparent that national culture is a dominant factor in determining the corporate culture and its management style. But the influence of Ingvar Kamprad's personality and his own strong assumptions can't be ignored here. Some of these assumptions don't really reflect the Swedish culture. He has been a dominant force in deciding the organisational culture of ikea. Although the final form of organisational culture also reflects the changes it has experienced because of external environment and development stages, there is little doubt that that initial shape force is the national culture and founders own strong assumptions (Williams, A. Dobson, P.). 1 In Sweden its known as "Royal Swedish Envy" 1 Phrase taken from a bank's advertisement. 3 Maslow, Abraham H. " A Theory Of Human Motivation". Psychology Review (July 1943). 2 Harrison R. "Understanding your organisations character". Harvard Business Review. May-June 1972. 1 Heenan, D.A. and Perlmutter, H.V. (1979). Multinational Organisation Development: A Social Architectural Approach. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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