Monday, July 3, 2017

Corporate culture, or, how things are done around here

Note every corporation is different


Corporate culture

  • Understanding the corporate culture of your parent operation can have a major influence on whether the library
    • Survives
    • Thrives
      • The library is seen as a contribution
    • Dies
  • Corporate culture is important in special libraries. Need a dedication to service.
What is corporate culture?
“A pattern of beliefs and expectations shared by the organization’s members and having endured for a relatively long period of time.”
H. Schwartz and S. M. Davis. “Matching Corporate Culture and Business Strategy.” Organizational Dynamics (Summer 1981): 30-48
“The organization-wide pattern of shared
* values, norms, and ways of managing * assumptions about the organization’s mission * perception of how best to adapt to the external environment Organizational culture is created and transmitted in many different ways. Among the most important are through core values, organizational socialization, rites and legends.”

Don Hellriegel and John W. Slocum Jr. Management. 5th ed. (Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley, 1989) 301.

Characteristics of corporate culture


  • Deeper, less visible level
    • Values about what is important in life which are shared by the group which persist over time, independent of changes in the group membership
    • Often group members are not even consciously aware of the values which are common to them all
  • More visible level
    • Behaviour patterns which new employees are automatically encouraged to follow
  • Holistic
    • The corporation is seen as a whole
  • Historically determined
    • Expectations change
  • Related to things anthropologists study
    • Retirement linked gifts
  • Socially constructed
    • Preserved by the organization
  • Soft
    • “It’s there, but fingerprints can’t be put on it”
What influence does corporate culture have on workers?
“When they [workers] choose a company, they often choose a way of life. The [corporate] culture shapes their responses in a strong, but substantial way. Culture can make them fast or slow workers, tough or friendly managers, team players or individuals. By the time they’ve worked for several years, they may be so well conditioned by the culture they may not even recognize it. But when they change jobs they may be in for a big surprise.”
Sociability and solidarity

Social interaction,  one for all, all for one
Networked: Very friendly organization, one feels part of it. Personal agendas can come in the way though, so where is the direction?
Communal: Small, start up companies. Committed on board vision; work and play as a team. Mission statements are displayed prominently.
Fragmented: Involve in professional work, lined with. Like to work alone. Good for telecommuters.
Mercenary: Very productive, everyone knows what they have to do; little scope. May last there for little time. Company comes first; not good for some.


Color coding metaphors


  • Cool green: Respect for autonomyProfessional oriented, acceptive of non-conformists, internally driven
  • Hot red: More directorialAssertive, single founder, “my way or the highway”, need more communal direction, often evaluated on achievements, pressure on support staff
  • True blue: Group decisionsPeople supportive, judge by how you get on with everyone, forget they have a job to do
  • Dull gray: BureaucracyOnly rewarded for following rules. Process procedures more important. “Because”
Corporate subcultures
  • Tough-guy macho culture (marketing)
    • Processing, Acquisitions
  • Work hard/play hard culture (sales and manufacturing)
    • Reference, Circulation
  • Bet your company culture (research and development)
    • Programming, systems
  • Process culture (accounting)
    • Cataloging
Manager’s influence
  • Managers set examples in their day-to-day activities and communication with staff
  • Never underestimate the powers of values, socialization, rights and legends
Where does the library fit in?
  • Take a good look at your parent organizationWhat is the corporation culture there?
    Not necessary in the library
    • What are the mission and goals?
    • Where does the power lie?
      • CEO
      • Another individual
    • How is success measured?
      • Why are they considered successful?
    • How do things get done?
      • Don’t leave on time if over time is encouraged
3Ps of fitting in
  • Presentation of self
    • Participation
    • Publicise involvement
    • Lighten up!
    • Smile
    • Respond
    • Dress professionally
  • Presentation of product
    • Looks professional
  • Procedural fit
    • Conduct the expected way

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