Thursday 6 August 2020

Best Practices of Organisational Culture

Best Practices of Organisational Culture in India

An organization’s culture, which is its soul, comprises the collective values of the 
individuals that make up the organisation. Each individual has his/her beliefs that translate into personal values which, expressed collectively, shape an organisation’s culture (Haines, 2000). Culture also operates as a ‘social control system’ (O’Reilly, 1989). It communicates how things ought to be and defines the “unwritten rules of the game” (Scott-Morgan, 1994). Culture can be felt in the implicit rules and expectations of behaviour wherein employees know what is expected of them, even in the absence of written rules (Saxena and Shah, 2008). 
A clear understanding of organisational culture is important for all organisational 
managers and leaders because it influences the way their organisations react to the changing demands of the business environment. At any given time, the culture of an organisation is strongly influenced by the past successes and past learnings about how to adapt and survive. As the business environment changes, leaders must constantly anticipate the necessary changes and actively monitor the relationship between the demands of the environment and the capabilities of the organisation. However, most successful changes also require changes in mindset, in values and in behaviours of organisation members. Without creating these changes, changes in basic capabilities of the organisation are impossible. Many organisations are discovering that successful change requires careful attention to the ‘soft’ side of organisations – the values and beliefs that are the ‘heart of the company’, the policies and practices that put those values into action, and the importance of teaching organisational members an understanding of how they create value for their customers (Denison and Neale, 1996, pp.1–4). 
Organisational culture has been perceived to have a great impact on a range of 
organisationally and individually desired outcomes (Mc Naughton, 2003). When organisation members identify with the culture, the work environment tends to be more enjoyable, boosting morale. This leads to increased levels of team work, sharing of information and openness to new ideas (Goffee and Jones, 1996). Organisational culture also affects the way in which people consciously and subconsciously think, make 
decisions and ultimately the way in which they perceive, feel and act (Hansen and 
Wernerfelt, 1989; Schein, 1990). Koh and Boo (2001) found that three measures of 
organisational culture (top management support, ethical behaviour and career success) are positively associated with commitment of employees. Similarly, Chusmir and Koberg (1988) found that employees’ personal belief in organisational culture had a direct effect on commitment with increased empowerment. In a recent study of R&D professionals in India, Saxena and Shah (2008) found that organisational culture had a significant role in creating or removing learned helplessness. 
In the light of the importance of organisational culture to managers and leaders in a changing business context and its possible impact on organisational outcomes, this study empirically examines the organisational ethos of Indian organisations in various sectors, an area which, although quite significant, is still under researched. The rest of this paper is organised as follows: The next section reviews the literature on organisational culture, especially in the Indian context. This is followed by a development of the objectives and the methodology of the study. The results and discussions are described next, while the final section gives the conclusions emanating from the study.
Organisational culture in the Indian context 

India is one of the fast growing economies in Asia. Several organisations outside India 
have been evincing interest in the country but not much research has been done so far to 
throw light on effective management practices in the Indian context (Singh and Krishnan, 2007). Indian work culture indicates that high-power distance, collectivism and affective reciprocity are major cultural values of Indian managers (Chhokar, 2000). Singh and Krishnan’s (2007) study suggests that transformational leadership does not manifest in the same set of behaviours in the Indian cultural context as it does in the Western world. In addition, a criticism against Hofstede (1980) is that he treated large nations like India as single units. Authors on Indian culture have noted the diverse elements that are part of 
the culture, but have highlighted an underlying unity behind that diversity (Gupta, 2002; Sinha, 2000). Pearson and Chatterjee (1999) have commented that “Within the context of organizations, Indian employees can embrace global work values while retaining deep connection to their societal culture”. Sinha and Kanungo (1997) tried to provide a sociological explanation and the coexistence of the ‘global’ and ‘local’ in Indian’s organisational behaviour on the basis of what they call ‘context sensitivity’ and 
‘balancing’. Context sensitivity is basically a thinking principle or a mind-set that is 
cognitive in nature and it determines the adaptive nature of an idea or behaviour in 
context. Balancing is a behavioural disposition to avoid extremes and to integrate or accommodate diverse considerations. Context sensitivity mindset and balancing disposition in Indian culture suggests that Indian managers have the potential to integrate, blend and accommodate traditional values and western management practices in order to render their organisations effective in the face of global competition (Sinha and Kanungo, 
1997, p.96 and 103). Singh and Kedar (1991) have studied organisational culture in terms of achievement, extension, control and dependency. Pillania (2006) has studied the state of organisational culture for KM in the Indian industry. His study of software, pharmaceuticals and petroleum marketing companies reveals that there is a lack of organisational culture for knowledge creation, sharing and dissemination which could affect the competitiveness of these firms, the industry and the country as a whole. Saxena and Shah (2008), based on 
data collected from 332 R&D professionals from India, have concluded that the 
dimensions of organisational culture are negatively related to learned helplessness. Singh et al. (2008) question the homogeneous conception of Indian national culture and look at national culture from a multidisciplinary perspective by exploring the antecedents of culture formation. Using social, historical, institutional, economic and geographic variables, they suggest 10 different clusters of Indian states that manifest different cultures. 

This study has mapped out the ethos/values present in the culture of Indian organisations 
along eight dimensions. The analyses indicate that the cultures differ along public and private sectors and amongst services, manufacturing, consulting and IT/ITES sectors. It is essential for growing companies, especially those in the public sector, to develop and maintain open and flexible corporate cultures and avoid the bureaucracies typically associated with larger, more complex organisations. Companies can foster innovative and 
empowered cultures by encouraging knowledge sharing and rewarding creativity and risk taking while focusing on tangible results. Culture can also be a great attracter for talent, especially those who are professionally qualified, in these competitive times. It is important to understand the elements that attract, retain and engage employees. 

Successful implementation of a positive corporate culture with strong values/ethos can be a powerful human resource strategy whose importance will be growing continuously. Future studies can explore whether the findings of this study have generalisability beyond the Indian context.

Sweta Patwal 
HR Manager
Aircrew Aviation Pvt. Ltd
Bio- @Sweta Patwal   HR Manager  Aircrew Aviation Pvt. Ltd
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