Organisational Culture

Organisational Culture is defined as the way in which members of an organisation relate to each other, their work and the outside world in comparison to other organisations. It can either enable or hinder an organisation’s strategy.

Our Multi-Focus Model on Organisational Culture is a strategic tool aimed at helping organisations to become more effective by ensuring you get a detailed picture of:

  1. How do employees really relate to their organisational culture – ensuring a matching picture between employee branding/recruitment texts and real life work environment.
  2. How ready an organisation is for change – is there enough trust, not too much anxiety and are the relevant groups ready for change?
  3. How is the actual way of working (actual culture) and the desired way of working (desired culture) aligned with the optimal culture (strategic choice on which way of working best supports the execution of a given strategy within the available resources and time)
  4. How well management is able to use its behaviour to set the example (walk the talk)
  5. How indirect change initiatives can assist in ensuring a better fit between the actual way of working and optimal way of working.

Info sheet The Hofstede Multi-focus Model 

The dimensions of Organisational Culture

Hofstede’s Multi-Focus Model consists of six autonomous dimensions or variables. This enables us to provide insights on the fit between the actual culture and any strategic direction you can think of. Different combinations of dimensions provide insights in various strategic fits and the results generate easy to understand visualisations such as following example:

The Dimensions of Organisational Culture

Dimension 1: Means-oriented vs. Goal-oriented

This dimension is closely connected to the effectiveness of the organisation.

In a means-oriented culture the key feature is the way in which work has to be carried out; people identify with the “how”.

In a goal-oriented culture employees are primarily out to achieve specific internal goals or results, even if these involve substantial risks; people identify with the “what”.

In a highly means-oriented culture people perceive themselves as avoiding risks and making only a limited effort in their jobs, while each workday is pretty much the same.

However, in a very goal-oriented culture, the employees are primarily out to achieve specific internal goals or results, even if these involve substantial risks.

Dimension 2: Internally driven vs. Externally driven

In a highly internally driven culture employees perceive their task towards the outside world as a given, based on the idea that business ethics and honesty matters most and that they know best what is good for the customer and the world at large.

In a very externally driven culture the only emphasis is on meeting the customer’s requirements; results are most important and a pragmatic rather than an ethical attitude prevails.

Dimension 3: Easygoing work discipline vs. Strict work discipline

This dimension refers to the amount of internal structuring, control, and discipline.

A very easygoing culture reveals a fluid internal structure, a lack of predictability, and little control and discipline; there is a lot of improvisation and surprises.

A very strict work discipline reveals the reverse. People are very cost-conscious, punctual and serious.

Dimension 4: Local vs. Professional

In a local company, employees identify with the boss and/or the unit in which one works.

In a professional organisation, the identity of an employee is determined by his profession and/or the content of the job.

In a very local culture, employees are very short-term directed, they are internally focused and there is strong social control to be like everybody else.

In a very professional culture it is the reverse.

Dimension 5: Open system vs. Closed system

This dimension relates to the accessibility of an organisation.

In a very open culture newcomers are made immediately welcome, one is open both to insiders and outsiders, and it is believed that almost anyone would fit in the organisation.

In a very closed organisation it is the reverse.

Dimension 6: Employee-oriented vs. Work-oriented

This aspect of organisational culture is most related to the management philosophy.

In very employee-oriented organisations, members of staff feel that personal problems are taken into account and that the organisation takes responsibility for the welfare of its employees, even if this is at the expense of the work.

In very work-oriented organisations, there is heavy pressure to perform the task even if this is at the expense of employees.

About the Research:

This is the only model based on extensive research. The model is the result of a study on organisational cultures in twenty units from ten different organisations

Conducted by Prof. Geert Hofstede and his research team in Denmark and the Netherlands. The research showed that a large part of the differences among the units could be explained by six factors related to concepts within the field of organisational sociology and the six dimensions were developed based on the literature.

Data was collected through:.

  • In-depth interviews of 2-3 hours with industry and academic leaders: total 180 interviews
  • Defining meaningful questions to identify as many differences among work practices as possible
  • Testing around 200 questions to assess whether they are well understood and whether the answers differentiate
  • Paper-pencil surveys using around 100 questions administered among a total of around 1500 respondents (25 managers, 25 professionals and 25 non managers per unit ad-randomly chosen)

Measure your organisational culture

To measure your organisation’s company culture use our Organisation Culture Scan: