Why the Fuss Over Corporate Culture?

Learning about corporate culture is an important part of anyone’s career development.  

If you are in your first job, you probably think that corporate culture simply represents the way organizations operate. Once you’ve experienced more than one culture, you begin to see the differences – you begin to see the uniqueness of your company’s culture.

Why is culture important?

As you move through your organization, your decisions, your management style and your development programs will be influenced by the culture and you need to take that into account.  

The more senior you are, the more you are influenced by the culture and the more you have to be aware of what it means to your company.

Some people ignore it completely and feel that it is buzzword.  Others keep the corporate culture in mind when they hire new team members.  And some realize the power of the culture and try to use to further the company’s goals – with varying degrees of success or failure.  

Can culture really make a difference?

Culture can impact high level business transactions. Bringing two companies together in a merger can be problematic if the cultures are different.  IBM was a grey-suited company and Rolm was a free wheeling west coast company.  When they merged, it wasn’t pretty. When Bristol Myers and Squibb merged, they brought a largely marketing company together with a scientific organization – totally different cultures.  Years after the merger, people are referred to as “one of the Squibb” people or not.  Later when they purchased Dupont they had similar difficulties.  

It can also impact low-level business transactions.  If two groups combine the clash can be uncomfortable until the two cultures normalize.  If one company is very “silo” oriented, or is rigid about not doing skip-level communications, then a more free wheeling organization will have trouble being on teams together.

What experience have you had with this?  Where have you seen culture influencing activities in your company?





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