People Innovation Excellence

Organisation Culture Assessment Instrument



Organization theory scholars started paying attention to the concept of culture in the early 1980s   (Ouchi, 1980). Different concepts of culture led organizational scholars to absolutely different research directions and themes. The view that organizations are cultures, a metaphoric representation of culture in organization theory, led researchers to inquire about the phenomenon of meaning creation and modes of expression and the construction of social reality in organizations. On the other side the view of culture as an internal variable in organizations led researchers to an entirely different direction to investigate into the phenomenon of social order and patterning in organizations (Smircich, 1983). Culture is considered to be a root metaphor in one type of organization theory discourses like organization cognition, organizational symbolism, and organizational unconscious, and it is considered to be an independent and internal variable in other discourses like comparative management and corporate culture respectively (Smircich, 1983). Taking culture as a variable within organizations, researchers further established that different belief and value systems within and or among organizations tend to produce differing levels of performance and productivity (Deal and Kennedy, 1982; Peters and Waterman, 1982). Organizations are taken as culture producing entities at the same time where they are considered to be embedded in wider national or regional cultural contexts. This type of view about culture is called corporate culture. Corporate culture is usually described as social or normative glue that holds an organization together. It is the value and belief systems prevailing among the workforce. Myths, rituals, stories, legends and jargons are some of the symbolic representations of culture within organizations. As put by Cameron and Quinn (1999):

“Organizational culture……. refers to the taken for granted values, underlying assumptions, expectations and definitions present in an organization……of course there are many kinds or levels of culture …at a broader level the global culture .. at a less general level the national culture or subgroup culture such as gender-based culture, ethnic group cultures, occupational cultures, socioeconomic group cultures….still less broad is a culture of a single organization…”

Researchers have identified various types of organizational culture, depending on the nature and form of relevant industry, and size of the organization (Gordon and DiTomaso, 1992). Classifications of different cultures into different forms have been proposed by many researchers (Cameron and Quinn, 1999; Hofstede, 1983). Culture is a very strong metaphor about organizations as it is deep rooted into the day to day routines of a particular organization and it is the way the organizational reality is being shaped. The nature of organizational symbols has much more deep rooted implications on the way an organization is performing and its members are behaving. The nature of organizational culture is sometimes too subtle and all pervasive that it goes beyond the level of slogans and it becomes very hard to clearly understand that how exactly the reality is being shaped at a particular workplace (Morgan, 1998). This subtleness and all-pervasiveness of the nature of organizational culture calls for an equally all-pervasive framework of study to diagnose it within organizations and moreover to investigate into the fact that to what extent the prevailing culture equals the one desired by its members. Various quantitative and qualitative approaches have been proposed so far to investigate this phenomenon (Igo and Skitmore, 2006). It is widely believed today that the corporate culture provides managers with the basic framework to implement different strategic options; hence managers need to be very conscious about the nature of culture and how it can potentially hinder different change efforts (Recklies, 2001). It is, however, realized that the corporate culture is normally very hard to successfully change and it is confirmed from the notion of congruence between espoused and observed values (Schein, 1992). Therefore, organizations ought to focus not only on the current but also the preferred culture within the organization so as to understand the level of congruence between observed and espoused values (Fyock, 1999). Taking into consideration the above discussion of subtleness of culture, and the problem of congruency it is required to adopt a very comprehensive frame to study culture in organizations. Competing value framework of organizational culture diagnosis is one of the most commonly used and validated frameworks for this type of research.

Culture Definition

A strategic resource that has value in ensuring the continuing existence and success of organizations (Barney, 1986, 1991; Hult, Ketchen, & Nichols, 2002; Gordon, 1985; Michalisin, Smith, & Kline, 1997).

A pattern of basic assumptions—invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration–that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (Schein, 1985).

  • It is the culture that connects The only way to change the culture is to change the way individuals perform on a daily basis.
  • Organization’s culture can be guided and influenced by the policies, practices, skills, and procedures that are implemented and reinforced.
  • Culture that are in trouble display high turnover and low morale, lack of consistency, lack of focus on the external environment, and other undesireable characteristics.
  • The roots of an organization’s culture are driven by the founder’s and senior leaders’ values, the culture of the nation, and the particular industry and business environment.

Competing Value Framework

The Competing Value Framework (CVF) (Cameron and Quinn, 1999; Kimberly and Quinn, 1984; Quinn and Rohrbaugh, 1981, 1983) tends to provide a validated, reliable, and concentrated method which, by considering the cultural values and comparing them to those values which are preferred, allows a comparison of desired with the actual state of an organization’s culture. Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1981, 1983) and Cameron and Quinn (1999) project the CVF as a framework which provides the linkage of cultural characteristics of an organization with its effectiveness and success. According to CVF, organizations can depict one or more or any combination of four prominent organizational cultural types which are:

  1. Clan
  2. Adhocracy
  3. Market
  4. Hierarchy

Before exploring these four cultural types in further details, it is necessary to briefly explain the premises for the definition and development of these cultural types. CVF was developed initially by Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1981, 1983) by using thirty indices of measurement of organizations clearly based on literature. Then these prominent criteria were located graphically on a three dimensional spatial model, resulting in three dimensions of organizational effectiveness which provide the basis for finally describing the four cultural types.

The very first dimension of organizational effectiveness describes the extremes of flexibility that emphasize discretion and dynamism, and control that emphasize order and stability. Second dimension reflects the extremes of internal orientation, integration and unity and external orientation, differentiation, and rivalry while the third dimension encapsulate the extremes of organizational focus on means versus ends. These dimensions of organizational analysis are reflective of the fact that some organizations are effective while they are flexible and the others are effective while they are controlled, some are effective with internal orientation and others are effective with external orientation, and some are effective while focusing on means at the same time others are effective while focusing the ends. The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) was then developed by Cameron and Quinn (1999), based on these three dimensions, to diagnose six key facets of cultural subsystems of organizations. CVF amalgamate these subsystems to establish four theoretical cultural types noted above. These cultural types are briefly described in Fig. 1.


Fig. 1: Competing Value Framework; effectiveness indicators adopted from Cameron and Quinn (2006)

Clan: Oriented organization looks like a very personal place, employee relations are shaped around mentoring and nurturing, workplace looks like an extended form of family, a general encouragement of participation is the building block of day to day routines of organization, and work is designed around flexibility and self-sufficiency. Human development with high trust and openness is the basic agenda of clan oriented organizations.

Adhocracy: Represents the dynamic and entrepreneurial side of organization where people take risks and they value innovation and creativity. Organization emphasizes acquiring new resources and creating new opportunities. Striving for new ways and rushing for opportunities are valued in this cultural archetype. Leaders are visionary and innovative. Creating unique and original products and services determines the success in this type of culture.

Market: is a result oriented organizational culture which emphasis on getting the job done. Key attributes of this cultural archetype are achievement orientation and competitiveness of employees. The term market here is not to be confused with the marketing function rather it represents the transactional focus of organization in this type of cultural archetype (Igo and Skitmore, 2006).

Hierarchy: archetype of organizational culture favors structure, control, coordination, and efficiency. Stability and internal maintenance, through clear tasks setting and enforcement of strict rules, are key determinants of success in this culture. The domination of this cultural facet in any organization ensures high value of economy, formality, rationality, order, and obedience (Igo and Skitmore, 2006).

Organizational culture assessment instrument (OCAI)

The criteria used in OCAI to distinguish four culture types result in a useful organizational contour based on perceptions and preferences related to six cultural subsystems. These cultural subsystems are briefly described below:

Dominant organizational characteristics: This subsystem investigates whether an organization is:

  • An extension of family
  • A dynamic and entrepreneurial place
  • Very result oriented
  • Controlled and structured

Organizational leadership: This identifies whether leadership style is:

  • Mentoring and nurturing
  • Entrepreneurial innovative and risk taking
  • Aggressive and result oriented
  • Coordinating, organizing and smooth running

Management of employees: whether employees are being managed through:

  • Teamwork and participation
  • Individual risk taking, freedom and uniqueness
  • Hard-driving competitiveness and high demands and achievement
  • Security, conformity, predictability, and stability in relationships

Organizational glue: It identifies what holds the Organization together:

  • Loyalty and mutual trust
  • Commitment to innovation and development
  • Achievement and goal accomplishment
  • Formal rules and policies

Strategic emphasis: This is to identify whether organization emphasizes:

  • Human development, high trust and openness
  • Acquiring new resources and creating new challenges
  • Competitive actions and achievement
  • Permanence, stability and control

Criteria of success: Determinant of success are:

  • Development of human resources, teamwork, and concern for people
  • Having most unique or newest products and being product leader and innovator
  • Winning in the marketplace and outperforming the competition
  • Efficiency, dependable delivery, smooth scheduling, and low cost

Instrument and data analysis

For the purpose of this study, we will be personally administered Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) to managerial level. OCAI is an established tool used to provide data to identify cultural types and leadership roles within the Competing Values Framework (CVF) model. OCAI is based on four classifications of culture (Clan, Adhocracy, Market, and Hierarchy) proposed by Cameron and Quinn (1999). OCAI consists of twenty four declarative statements arranged in six sections that solicit responses for the following content dimensions(Cameron and Quinn, 2006), namely:

  1. dominant characteristics,
  2. organizational leadership,
  3. management of employees,
  4. organizational glue,
  5. strategic emphasis,
  6. and criteria for success

Each of the six areas consist of four questions in which respondents will be asked to describe their perception of current and desired organizational culture for a total of twenty four responses. OCAI used constant sum scale to collect data. The respondents will be asked to spend 100 points among four alternatives for each cultural dimension described above. The intent was to identify the organization’s current culture. The respondents will then be asked to use same method and give their responses on same instrument about their desired organizational culture. Scores by the respondents will be recorded and the averages will computed for different alternatives representing the respective culture type of their organization both for current and future situations. The same procedure will be adopted to identify the culture of the industry as a whole. These averages for different organizations and industry as a whole will then be plotted on a radar graph consisting of four quadrants with a scale of 0-100 with intervals of 10. The four quadrants represented the clan, adhocracy, market, and hierarchy culture types respectively. The scores plotted in each quadrant represent the strength of culture type for the present and future situations exhibited by each organization and the industry. The reliability of the instrument will be tested. To assess the reliability of the scales used in the questionnaire, a coefficient of internal consistency will be calculated both for current and preferred situations using Cronbach’s Alpha methodology (Santos, 1999). The Cronbach’s Alpha score for statements relating to each culture type on the OCAI was calculated for the organization. The alpha score will also be calculated for all 48 statements. The results are plotted as an example in Figure 2.

clan adhocracy

Figure 2. Sample of plotting OCAI results.

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