Leadership and context
Leadership and context

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Leadership and context

5 Organisational culture

Let’s now move on to think about the culture of an organisation and those who have a part in creating and influencing that culture. The issue of culture is certainly complex, and there are many factors that go towards creating it. Equally, the culture of any organisation is dynamic and will be in a state of constant change. It will also be created at any point in time by any number of subcultures, which may be competing, shared and more or less dominant. An individual might be conservative or liberal; a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew; a supporter of Tampines or Geylang in the Singapore Football League; a graduate of Witwatersrand or Durban university; a young man or woman living in a gang culture, or someone of the same age living in an affluent area; a school or university student or a teacher or professor; and so on. Each of these groups will have identifiable cultural differences, some of which conflict with those of other groups. To complicate matters, these groups are not mutually exclusive: one can be a young conservative Christian or a liberal Jew who is a teacher, for example. Organisations are one such subgroup within wider cultures, which might be transnational or global.

Individual organisations can themselves have cultures that make them distinctive. How these are to be conceptualised and analysed is a matter of considerable disagreement. Some suggest that organisational culture consists of conflicting subcultures that compete for dominance. Culture is therefore, in this view, not predictable; and, from the perspective of leaders, not controllable. This view suggests that organisational culture is created through the interactions in the micro-communications of the organisation.


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