People Innovation Excellence

Layers and Levels of Culture

Layers and Levels of Culture

By: Novita, S.Kom., MBA


Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. It is a pattern of responses discovered, developed, or invented during the group’s history of handling problems which arise from interactions among its members, and between them and their environment. These responses are considered the correct way to feel, think, and act, and are passed on to the new members through immersion and teaching. Culture determines what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable.

There are the layer of cultures:

  • Artifacts

These artifacs are the surface, those aspects which can be easily discerned, yet are hard to understand

  • Values

Which are conscious strategies, goals, and philosophies

  • Basic assumptions

The core, or essence, of culture is represented by the basic underlying assumptions and values, which are difficult to discern because they exist at a largely unconscious level


Six levels of culture:

  • National/Societal:The level of culture that deals with awareness of cultural dynamics and patterns by nationality. It is particularly relevant for (a) entering a new market for product, service, and/or talent; (b) cross-border division of labor; and (c) international outsourcing relationships.
  • Organizational Culture: The level of culture that focuses on the experience of cultural dynamics in an organization. This is especially relevant for global organizations and those involved in M&A.
  • Identity Group Culture: The level of culture for analyzing the diversification of society by gender, generation, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and other social groups. It is particularly relevant for workforce diversity and talent management concerns.
  • Functional Culture: The level of culture that addresses cross-functional effectiveness, based on the cultures created by specific business units. Cross-functional or management teams concentrate on functional cultures and leverage their differences carefully, bridging distinct cultural differences across their constituent units.
  • Team Culture: The level of culture that becomes apparent when teams develop a distinct identity and culture. To effectively build teams in global and matrixed organization, an understanding of how to collaborate in complex and dynamic situations is essential.
  • Individual Culture: The level at which the “building blocks” of culture are present,in both intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics. An understanding of this level is important for successfully addressing the concerns at any level of culture.

Marie-Joelle Browaeys & Roger Price (2011). Understanding Cross Cultural Management Pearson Education, England, ISBN : 978-0-273-73295-2

Published at : Updated
Written By
Novita, S.Kom., MBA
LS 2 | IBM
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