This book is a practical guide to “reading” the culture of organizations and to understanding the implications of culture for organizational effectiveness. Sharing their experiences from over 25 years of consulting and teaching, the authors make the process of cultural analysis practical and applicable. Beginning with an explanation of the theories of organizational culture, the book provides guidance on collecting information, leading students through qualitative research methods of observation, interviewing, and analyzing written texts. Students come away equipped to apply cultural insights to fostering diversity, supporting organizational change, making leadership more dynamic, understanding the link between ethics and culture, and achieving personal growth.

Key Features

Application activities are integrated throughout each chapter: Inviting students to apply the concepts learned, these activities can also be used in class or for assignments.; Four contexts chapters contain topical cases and examples: These chapters demonstrate the value of cultural analysis as students consider the implications for change, ethics, diversity, and leadership.; Includes numerous real-life examples: Based on the authors' extensive consulting experience, these examples help students see the material applied in context.; NEW! Expanded discussion of ethics with related cases, and sections on multicultural organizations, generational diversity, the use of dialogue groups, and intercultural training bring the text thoroughly up to date.

The Significance of the Stage

The significance of the stage

Most anyone entering an unfamiliar work setting knows the feeling of being an outsider. … Real wisdom in such situations means recognizing that the unspoken is more powerful than what can be conveyed through speaking. One gradually gains a sense of the feel, the smell, the personality of a workplace, a way of working, or a kind of work—though it may be difficult to translate all of this into words that an outsider could grasp.

—Louis, “Perspectives on Organizational Culture,” 1985, p. 27


  • Appreciate the value of a cultural analysis
  • Explain the theories of social constructivism and structuration as a foundation for a cultural analysis
  • Learn the five major steps in the cultural analysis process

Stage Terms:

  • Construct
  • Culture
  • Structuration
  • Social constructionism

The Tales We Could ...

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