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Week 13: Organizational Culture

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By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Explain the elements of organizational culture.
  • Discuss the importance of organizational subcultures.
  • Explain the four categories of artefacts through which corporate culture is communicated.
  • Identify three functions of organizational culture.
  • Critically discuss the conditions under which cultural strength improves corporate performance.


Organizational culture refers to a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that show people what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. These values have a strong influence on employee behaviour as well as organizational performance. In fact, the term organizational culture was made popular in the 1980s when Peters and Waterman’s best-selling book In Search of Excellence made the argument that company success could be attributed to an organizational culture that was decisive, customer-oriented, empowering, and people-oriented. Since then, organizational culture has become the subject of numerous research studies, books, and articles. Organizational culture is still a relatively new concept. In contrast to a topic such as leadership, which has a history spanning several centuries, organizational culture is a young but fast-growing area within management.