The 8 Different Types of Corporate Culture that Exist Today

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Have you ever wondered why everyone is 5 minutes late for meetings in your office when your friend insists that meetings in company start on time? Or perhaps why some people seem to pick up all their friends from work while others never see their colleagues outside the office?

Corporate culture contains many of the answers to these and countless other differences between organizations. To better understand the types of culture and the best approach to dealing with each one, four experts in organizational development conducted a literature review to create eight different areas of culture (the results of which were published in the Harvard Business Review in 2018). To save you the trouble of reading (and the cost of buying the article), we will discuss the two dimensions that led to the classification of the eight types of culture, and go into each cultural area in more detail.

8 Organizational Cultures

In their literature research, the authors of this study found two concepts that underlie the culture of a company and enable them to present the different types of culture on a two-dimensional axis.

The first dimension is "interactions between people", which can range from highly independent to highly interdependent - so as one might imagine, independent cultures promote competition and value individuals who can thrive on their own, while interdependent cultures judge success by group effectiveness.

The second dimension deals with the response to change, ranging from stability to flexibility - the former favoring rules and hierarchy, the latter innovation and diversity.

Using these two dimensions, the authors created the two-dimensional axis below and, as a result, eight culture types that determine what connects employees, what type of person typically performs well in this type of organization, and what business leaders tend to focus on. Interestingly, the type of culture in which a company falls often reflects the industry and geographical location; for example, the authors categorize Huawei, based in China, as a company with a culture of "authority" that may reflect the broader culture in China. To be sure, companies don't necessarily have to fit into just one type of culture, but categorizing them as such can help managers and employees alike to work more effectively.

Purpose Organisational culture

Employees united by: Driving sustainability and global communities

Employees are generally: Compassionate and open-minded

Emphasize leaders: Common ideals, greater cause

Good for: People who are looking for an organization that values influencing the world through individual achievement

Example: Whole food

Nurturing organisational culture

Employees united by: Loyalty

Employees are generally: cooperative, inviting

Emphasize leaders: sincerity, teamwork, good relationships

Good for: People who are motivated to perform well because of positive working relationships

Example: Disney

Order Organisational Culture

Employees united by: Cooperation

Employees are generally: methodical, compliant with rules

Emphasize leaders: Common procedures, customs

Good for: People who feel most comfortable in clear, structured environments

Example: SEC

Organisational culture in the area of safety

Employees united by: The need to feel protected and the ability to anticipate organizational change

Employees are generally: risk-conscious, dutiful

Emphasize leaders: Forward planning, pragmatic

Good for: Employees who like to feel involved in organizational changes and prefer careful planning

Example: Lloyd's of London

Authority Organisational culture

Employees united by: Strong control

Employees are generally: competitive, want to get ahead

Emphasize leaders: trust, dominance

Good for: People who are motivated more by personal advantages than by organizational success

Example: Huawei

Results organizational culture

Employees united by: success

Employees are generally: results-oriented, performance-oriented

Emphasize leaders: Achievement of objectives

Good for: Employees who give their best when they achieve the goals they have set and work towards a successful outcome

Example: GSK

Enjoying organisational culture

Employees united by: playfulness and stimulation

Employees are generally: carefree, looking for work that makes them happy

Emphasize leaders: spontaneity, sense of humor

Good for: Fun-loving people who are looking for a sense of excitement in their daily lives

Example: Zappos

Learning from organizational culture

Employees united by: Curiosity

Employees are generally: Inventive, creative, always looking for alternatives

Emphasize leaders: Innovation, knowledge, adventure

Good for: Those for whom learning is more important than other things that can be achieved through work, such as stability or personal achievement.

Example: Tesla


Ultimately, no particular type of corporate culture is right or wrong - nor do most companies fall perfectly within a single culture. Instead of trying to squeeze a company into a single type of culture, use these eight classifications as a tool to better understand how different companies work - and, perhaps more importantly, where you'll be happiest and most productive.

You may also Read: 10 strategies of Organization Culture

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