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The Four Types of Corporate Culture

If you’ve interviewed any prospective candidates lately, you may have been asked questions about your organization’s corporate culture. So, what is it?

According to Robert E. Quinn and Kim S. Cameron, at the University of Michigan, there are four types of cultures:

  • Clan-oriented cultures are family-like, with a focus on mentoring, nurturing, and “doing things together.”
  • Adhocracy-oriented cultures are dynamic and entrepreneurial, with a focus on risk-taking, innovation, and “doing things first.”
  • Market-oriented cultures are results-oriented, with a focus on competition, achievement, and “getting the job done.”
  • Hierarchy-oriented cultures are structured and controlled, with a focus on efficiency, stability and “doing things right.”

“Building an appropriate organizational culture adds value to any organization,” said NCU professor, Steven Munkeby PhD. “By defining the climate or culture, an organization’s leadership defines what is valuable to the organization.” There isn’t necessarily one culture that is better than another. Different personalities will thrive in different environments and different cultures will create certain business realities. For example, adhocracy leads to breakthrough change, while hierarchy leads to smaller, slower change.

“An organization’s leadership establishes the organization’s character, enforces policies, educates, rewards ethical conduct, and eliminates the ethical issues of a worker’s environment,” explained Munkeby. “Additionally, the organization’s selection of its cultural values is responsible for ensuring that worker behavior produces valuable services and products for society.”

Corporate culture starts with leadership and, according to Munkeby, the most demonstrable example of culture is one where the leader is true to his/her principles all the time, not just when it is convenient. The way the leadership acts and treats employees forms the backbone of culture and determines if employees buy into it.