Sunday, May 4, 2008

Organizational culture and leadership

Schein, Edgar H.
Organizational culture and leadership
Edgar H. Schein.—3rd ed. p. cm.—
(The Jossey-Bass business & management series)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-7879-6845-5 (alk. paper)
1. Corporate culture. 2. Culture. 3. Leadership.
I. Title. II. Series.HD58.7.S33 2004302.3'5—dc22


Organizational culture has come of age. Not only did the concepthave staying power but it is even being broadened to occupationalcultures and community cultures. Culture at the national level ismore important than ever in helping us to understand intergroupconflict. As it turns out, culture is essential to understanding intergroupconflict at the organizational level as well. My years of consultingexperience with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)provided useful case material (as the Action Company) in my previouseditions, but it was only through my attempt to fully understandwhy DEC initially succeeded—and, in the end, failed as abusiness—that I came to realize the true importance of organizationalculture as an explanatory concept. What happens in organizationsis fairly easy to observe; for example, leadership failures,marketing myopia, arrogance based on past success, and so on; butin the effort to understand why such things happen, culture as aconcept comes into its own (Schein, 2003).In an age in which leadership is touted over and over again as acritical variable in defining the success or failure of organizations, itbecomes all the more important to look at the other side of the leadershipcoin—how leaders create culture and how culture defines andcreates leaders. The first and second editions of this book attemptedto show this connection, and I hope that I have been able tostrengthen the connection even more in this third edition.The conceptual models of how to think about the structure andfunctioning of organizational culture, and the role that leadershipplays in the creation and management of culture have remained
more or less the same in this third edition. However, I have beenable to add material based on more recent clinical research and tomake the concepts more vivid by identifying more of the organizationswith whom I have worked over the years.All of the chapters have been redone and edited. Some havebeen shortened; more have been lengthened with additional casematerial that I was able to incorporate. In addition, I have selectivelyincorporated relevant material from a great many other booksand papers that have been written about organizational culturesince the last edition. It is clear that there are still different modelsavailable to scholars and practitioners on how to think about culture.I have not reviewed all of them in detail but have tried toshow, wherever possible, variations in point of view. I apologize tothose colleagues whose work I may have overlooked or chosen notto include, but my purpose is not to write the definitive textbook onculture; rather, it is to explore a way of thinking about culture thatI believe best suits our efforts to understand groups, organizations,and occupations.This edition is organized into three parts. Part One focuses onorganizational and occupational cultures—how to think aboutthem, how to define them, and how to analyze them. Leadershipis referred to throughout and leadership issues are highlighted,but the focus is clearly on getting a better feel for what culture isand does.Part Two focuses on the content of culture. In a sense, culturecovers all of a given group’s life; hence the content is, in principle,endless and vast. Yet we need categories for analysis, and here wecan draw on anthropology and group dynamics to develop a set ofdimensions that are most likely to be useful in making some conceptualsense of the cultural landscape as applied to organizations.In Part Three the focus shifts to the leader as founder, manager,and, ultimately, a victim of culture if the leader does not understandhow to manage culture. A crucial element in this analysis is tounderstand how culture coevolves with the organization as success
brings growth and aging. The issues that leaders face at each ofthese different organizational growth stages are completely different,partly because the role that culture plays at each stage is completelydifferent. This aspect of leadership is almost completelyignored in most leadership books.