Aspects of organizational culture

Culture is an integral part of life. Organizational culture is the personality of any firm, co-operation, company or any kind of a business. Culture is that kind of a term which is extremely difficult to express distinctly, but everyone knows it when they sense it or have some sort of experience with it. On the other hand it can be a common perception of the members of an organization.

Ways of looking at organizational culture originally come out of anthropology. Here are some aspects of culture:

  • Historical: Culture is social heritage, or tradition, that is passed on to future generations
  • Behavioral: Culture is shared, learned human behavior, a way of life
  • Normative: Culture is ideals, values, or rules for living
  • Functional: Culture is the way people solve problems of adapting to the environment and living together
  • Mental: Culture is a complex of ideas, or learned habits, for social control
  • Structural: Culture consists of patterned and interrelated ideas, symbols, or behaviors
  • Symbolic: Culture is based on arbitrarily assigned meanings that are shared by an organization. Adapted from Bodley, (1996)

The Hewlett-Packard [HP] video featured in the lecture, pictures that Hewlett-Packard practices a highly innovative style of management known as the HP Way. The HP Way follows an extremely open and informal corporate culture. In track with this the company has developed a matrix style of organization rather than a formal pyramid management structure which is highly common among many companies around the globe.

Basically, HP follows the "Culture has" concept i.e.

The HP management uses a variety of strategies and practices that helps them grip control over its culture. The prominent one is the MBWA [Management by Wondering Around].

HP follows a very simple, relaxed and a laidback attitude i.e. an informal culture. Here the managers and employees work together, there is no particular or separate place for managers, and they work with open doors which is very uncommon. The employees have flexible working hours which they can coordinate according to their likings and have formal breaks or recess where they enjoy healthy work discussion over a cup of coffee. There is always someone that a worker can talk to, everyone is readily assessable. This fosters communication and creates an unlikely situation to have a big problem, as it is quickly attended to. Due to this employees get motivated, leading to innovation, which is equally shared with all the employees. HP has managed to maintain a single culture and not let departments form sub-cultures, which leads to trust and respects for collogues and thus lead to high level of achievement and contribution.

In case of TESCO, it uses the HR Policy as a mechanism for managing organizational culture. This is a well structured organization, but has a strict and formal approach. This gives a clear idea about its work culture. It is a bureaucratic organization.

Basically, TESCO follows the "Culture is" concept.

TESCO believes that the reputation of the organization depends on the staffs that interact with the customer. Hence they work on high commitment structure, which insists strongly on training and development. They have developed a training program, a masterpiece which has all different aspects of cultures, styles of learning and varying commitments to the job. It is their slogan around which the entire training programmed is based and thus gives an opportunity to employees to inculcate individual role contributing to its purpose and value.

As it being a supermarket it has to follow formal culture; their work demands it. Being bought-up in the TESCO culture the employees have all the traits developed by training to perform effectively. Due to the hectic schedule of the employees they don't get much time for socialize.

TESCO's main aim is to provide training to its employees so that they can perform their work effectively, which directly correlates to customer satisfaction. TESCO also provides perquisites and benefits like discounts on large number of products and also special discounts in theme parks, holidays and gym which are in its vicinity. All this helped TESCO to overpower its rivals in the UK retail supermarket sector.

In conclusion, I strongly suggest that comparing organizational cultures of these two companies HP and TESCO is not reasonable. This is because HP and TESCO are companies that have vast difference in their operations and most dominantly their business areas. HP is an information technology enterprise which is a manufacturing unit and TESCO is a leading supermarket which is a retail unit providing services. Thus their elements of business are completely different. Manufacturing units and retail units do not share the same platform on which they can be compared. The organizational cultures of both these companies have been formulated keeping in mind that HP has to produce good efficiently and effectively and TESCO's main target is customer satisfaction. HP has to adopt a culture which is liked by its employees, which leads to high performance and low employee turnover. Whereas TESCO has to keep proper channels of communication and maintain employee hierarchy which makes it easy for the company in providing services to its customers. Comparison of culture is only viable for companies that are reasonably similar to each other.


  • Bodley, J. (1996) Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States, and the Global System. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield

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