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Organizational Culture

Organizational culture arises out of organizing activity as people create patterns of behavior, language, ritual, and tradition and share expectations about how they will work together to sustain those patterns. This entry covers three perspectives on organizational culture: (1) integration, (2) differentiation, and (3) fragmentation; then, it offers a dynamic model that examines how cultural processes stabilize or change a culture. All three perspectives assume that top managers desire to harness organizational culture as a way of shaping organizational reputation, thereby producing corporate culture—their desired version, not the organizational culture itself.

Integration Perspectives

Edgar Schein (1985), an early theorist of organizational culture, defined the phenomenon as

the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems ...

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