Managing cultures

Published on July 4, 2010 Reviewed on November 28, 2018   48 min

A selection of talks on Management, Leadership & Organisation

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Hello, I'm Stephen Lindstead and I'm the professor of Critical Management at the University of York in the UK. I've been studying, researching, writing about, and consulting to organizational cultures for the past 30 years, and there's been a lot of change in the way that the concept has been understood and operationalized. The talk that follows, I'm going to look at some of those changes and ask whether the idea of managing culture is still as pertinent today as it was 30 years ago. I think that it is, but I don't think that it's understood in the same way as it was 30 years ago, and there have been some really exciting developments in the meantime. I hope you enjoy the talk.
Here are some questions about culture that we'll be considering in the talk. First, what are organizational cultures? How can they be defined, in what different ways, and with what consequences? Second, are organizations with strong cultures always successful? Or, can the strong cultures, sometimes, be dysfunctional? Third, can culture be managed and how? Finally, is national culture important?
But, before we begin, just take a minute or so to think about this. In the past few years, what can you recall hearing in the media, on the TV, or in the press about culture in an organizational or business sense? Just take a little time out from the presentation, and we'll come back to this.
Maybe you recall that the Enron culture was held to be responsible for the demise of Enron. This was raised as early as 2002 in our report that was prepared for the board, in which causes of the collapse were cited as being self-enrichment by employees, inadequate control from the board and the outside directors, and significantly, an aggressive and overreaching corporate culture. All of these helped to doom the company, and this was a report that was produced as early as 2002. Just to show that the concern with Enron culture is still contemporary, I noted in a web search 1.5 million hits on the term 'Enron culture'.