Unique culture of an organization


Organizational culture refers to a collection of values, norms, & behaviour shared by employees that control the way employees interact, co-ordinate and work with each other. Every organization has its own unique culture and it distinguishes the organization from other organizations. The organizational culture is changed, managed or manipulated based on the values and vision of the top management or the core people who build and/or control that organization. The founders hire those who share the same vision as them and the new comers learn the norms and values of the organization. It is possible that, in due course of time, the members of the organization, particularly the top management, will attempt to modify and influence the organizational culture to fit their own values and needs or changing marketplace conditions. This can lead to changes in the decision-making processes and management styles.

Hewlett Packard

Hewlett-Packard's growth and success over the years has been due in large part to its organizational culture. According to Bill and Dave, the owners of HP, it is important to communicate the objectives clearly to the employees and give them flexibility to achieve their goals in their own way. This is in sync with the Management by objective (MBO) principle which involves participation of employees with feedback on goal progress (Hewlett - Packard 2009).

HP started an innovative management technique called "Management by walking around", which involved free and easy interaction between the manager and the employees. The manager is accessible all the time and listens to the concerns of the employees and gives suggestions for the same. The technique is also meant to increase communication, knowledge sharing and collaboration among the employees. This helps in identifying and solving the problem, if any, at an initial stage and leads to a highly developed collaborative workplace (Ogbonna, E.lecture,23 November 2009)

HP's managers control culture through Artefacts which is open plan office(open door policy) that gives a sense of security, helps in decision making and unity among employees as well as directs them to focus on the organizational goals (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007 p. 625).

HP gives its employees a luxurious but restrictive environment. The employees are given the authority to take their own decisions and act accordingly, which gives them a sense of responsibility, but, at the same time, accountability for any mistakes. That is how HP is termed as "Glided Cage" (Ogbonna, E.lecture, 23 November 2009).

HP's reward systems support the desired behaviour with the introduction of Merit scheme. It appraises employees according to their performance and dedication towards their task. One of the primary principles that is often employed is "catching people doing things right" ( Hodgetts 1991, p. 437).


Tesco, the UK's leading supermarket group, established in 1924, by Sir Jack Cohen, in England has a contrasting organizational culture. Tesco has a decentralized organizational structure. There is a store manager in each Tesco store who can take certain decisions for his store. The store manager reports to a regional manager (Blurtit, 2007-2009).This means that the top management does not have to bother about the day-to-day decisions concerning the store as these can be handled by other people down the organization. The store managers and the regional managers have a sense of empowerment which enables them to bring in the necessary changes in the management styles and thus increases the staff output. The store managers are given monthly targets from the senior managers, which is a very healthy way of putting pressure. Thus, they believe in clearly defining the objectives and communicating the same to the staff.

"Every little helps" is Tesco's slogan. Though it was used at first to show its commitment to customers, it is now used in training staff as well, in line with the belief that any intervention will lead to a gain in the knowledge of the workforce. In addition, the staffs remain in the loop with weekly newsletters and monthly company videos which increases communication and involvement. Since employees are better connected by the information network, there is increased sharing of values, as members are kept updated about the scenario within the organization. Therefore, they are high on morale and goodwill and are more motivated at work. The employees know that they are highly valued and therefore provide better service and take initiative more often (OPPapers, 2009).


HP is more likely to achieve cultural control. Its culture focuses on people-orientation by giving the staff the authority to set their own objectives. On the other hand, Tesco is outcome-oriented and is more concerned with achieving the targets set by the top management for the people below them in the hierarchy. The people-orientation in HP gives a sense of involvement to the employees and motivates them to follow the culture. Also, the flexibility of time and communication among the peer as well as the seniors in HP make people feel at ease working in the organization and adhering to the norms. Because of the flat management structure HP can utilize peer pressure to control culture and the information is accessible to all; whereas, Tesco may not be able to control culture that effectively, due to its hierarchical organizational structure, it takes a long time for message to travel.

Thus, we can conclude that the way the managers implement to control culture also depends upon the kind of business they have. HP is using the flat structure and open-door policy to encourage employees to bring innovation in their work, but in Tesco, more than innovation, efficiency is required and hence the hierarchical structure and setting of objectives by senior management is effective.

The importance of organizational culture is growing over the years. It is considered as the "glue" that binds the organization together. Companies expect their employees to be more responsible and act and think like owners. Therefore, organizational culture should be addressed in the organization's mission, vision, and goal statements, and emphasized in staff training and company communication.


  • http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/timeline/hist_40s.html]
  • hp video
  • Hodgetts 1991, p. 437
  • http://www.learnmanagement2.com/centraliseddecentralised.htm

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