What is Organizational Culture Clash?

Looking through the metaphorical cultural lens of any organization, one would learn about the interplay between the levels of culture: societal, industry, and organizational. The societal level analysis reveals the rationality of relationships and the meaning that people attach to objects, activities, and events. Industry level analysis reveals the norms that develop around dress, lifestyle, and even political stance. Organizational culture must be at least minimally consistent with the societal and industrial culture in which it is derived from.

Unfortunately, when there is a misalignment of organizational culture with the business needs of the company and its employees, leaders can experience a lack of support on the mission, goals, and strategies of the organization, also referred to as a culture clash. Focusing too heavily on the main culture and ignoring the subcultures can also lead to culture clash. When employees do not fit comfortably with the main culture, they are led to form or join a counterculture, a subculture, or leave the organization. If strategically implemented and nurtured well, certain organizational cultures can help stimulate employee’s creativity, innovativeness, and job performance. Employee’s creativity and innovativeness could create an autonomous environment, in which leaders are free to work on other tasks. Bill Ouchi, one of the seminal writers on organizational culture, referred to this phenomenon as “clan control.” He said, “When you learn to control your culture, your culture will control your employees.”

Do you need help undoing a culture clash? Let’s talk it through.


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