Organizational culture has been studied extensively for decades. Culture is the shared values and beliefs that employees have about their organization. For example, employees at a high priced law firm might consider their organization to be prestigious. This shared belief can influence how people behave at the company, how they interact with other stakeholders and even what they expect from the organization in pay, benefits, and work hours. Organizational culture defines the mindset of employees in the organization. Sounds easy so far? Well it is actually very complicated. There is considerable debate surrounding what values or factors are important to measure when we try to figure out an organization’s culture. The list of potential values and beliefs is endless so how do we know which ones to use to describe the company? Many practitioners argue that we can’t do this systematically and the only way to describe the culture is to conduct very expensive interviews, focus groups and site visits and then write an impression of the organizations culture. The advantages of this is that the culture description is highly tailored to that company and is rich in detail. The drawbacks are that two different analysts can come up with two very different descriptions of the same company based on their different training, philosophy, interview questions used, individuals interviewed etc. So which one is right? Another issue is that it makes comparisons with other organizations impossible so we don’t know if that company’s employees actually feel their company is more prestigious than other companies relative to employees from those other companies. To solve this problem we can try using standardized survey-based measures to identify corporate culture. More on this in our next post.