Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Culture of the Organisation

Organisational culture is the personality of the organisation, comprised of the assumptions, values, norms and artifacts of organisation members and their behaviors.

Members of an organisation soon come to sense the particular culture of an organisation, and will adapt their personality to fit, ergo loosing their career momentum. This is evidenced through the status of the employee to clique groups, whether or not they participate and engage in extra-curricular activities, and their willingness to put the organisation as their first priority. I have noticed that in many work places the world is reduced to the microcosm of the organisations existence, and these clique groups spend significant amounts of their private lives interacting with one another, either with sporting teams, binge drinking and the like. This is encouraged by the organisation, as the organisation provides each employee with all they need. Why would you have relationships with humans outside of your workplace? which tends to remind me of Orwell's "1984". All relationships are fashioned by Big Brother FOR Big Brother.

Extra-curricular activities in particular are designed to bring about a sense of community within each organisation, and often take the form of conferences, picnics and group bonding exercises. These events are compulsory to attend, and failure to do so labels someone "not a team player". So, these large multi-national organisations force their already poorly paid employees to sacrifice their private hours in the name of organisational harmony, which is nothing more than forced assimilation, and in practice a communist fiefdom.

With the rise of the large multi-national and the development of "organisational culture", there seems to be little need or tolerance for culture outside of the organisation. Already we can see the signs of cultural decay, which is evidenced in Western countries already. Travel to any big city in Australia and they all appear the same, the same McDonald's, the same Coles, Safeway, Bunnings, the list goes on.

Organisations don't have culture, people do!

I get frustrated when dealing with people who have become institutionalised. These are people who for some foolish reason hold the belief that what is good for the organisation (Big brother!) is good for them. Thus, when firing workers or choosing to be unethical within the realms of law, they choose to side with the organisation. We've all been there, you've gone to some institution with their own bureaucracy, and someone behind the counter just keeps telling you no for inane or banal reasons. You try and convince them they have the ability to think for themselves, but it makes no iota of difference.

How can you make a difference? Make choices not for the culture of the organisation, but for the little guy. If you have the opportunity in your work, make the decision that doesn't side with the large multi-national! The best example of this is tobacco companies covering up the truth about the dangers of smoking, another is the housing sector in America. Brokers were encouraged by banks to provide sub prime (high interest) loans rather than prime (standard interest) loans EVEN to people who were eligible for the prime loans! Legally the broker was well within his rights to do so, but ethically, should not have. Many of us have occupations where we have a choice that while legal, is ethically questionable. Don't get sucked into the culture of the organisation, you are NOT who you work for.


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