Organizational Culture Sample College Essay

The organizational culture is the personality of an organization (McNamara, 1997).  In his book Understanding Organizational Culture, Mats Alvesson (2002) has defined an organization as a space for “cultural traffic,” which is to say that the organizational culture is really made up of the different messages of the diverse groups that are connected with it.  These groups include the employees, consumers, as well as the suppliers.  Together, these entities bring in their knowledge to the organization and move it in the desired direction, i.e. toward greater productivity and increased revenues.

     When we think of “culture,” we are automatically led by our neural pathways to imagine the people who make up a particular culture, participate in it, and help to change it whenever changes are needed.  Given that people are diverse in their interests, even a community with a particular culture that has no diversity in terms of racial groups, would reveal diversity in its culture because of the different messages that the community receives from the people with diverse interests.  Hence, a community may identify with a culture of prayer at the same time as its young ones thrive on music.  This kind of diversity is essential to make a culture what it is.

     Gwendolyn Whitfield, and Robert Landeros (2006) write about the importance of diversity in today’s organizational culture:

         Diversity in organizations is one of many challenges confronting firms in dynamic business environments.  Adroitly managing diversity has become a prominent issue in management theory and business practice (Pless and Maak 2004).  According to a study facilitated by Fortune magazine and the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 75 percent of surveyed organizations have engaged in some type of diversity activity or initiative (Holmes 2005).  Organizations are beginning to emphasize diversity as a core element in their business strategy and practices.

Because the interests of the employees, consumers, and suppliers are diverse, the organization must incorporate diversity into its culture.  In other words, everybody who is involved with the organization must have his or her interests represented in some way to make the organizational culture what it is.  Furthermore, the organization of today is made up of people who are diverse in their backgrounds, for example, race, religion, educational levels, etc.  All of these elements of diversity are incorporated into the organizational culture.  Charlie Coffrey and Norma Tombari (2005) explain the importance of diversity to a company bent on improving its organizational culture:

         RBC Financial Group recognizes that leveraging diversity helps achieve overall corporate vision and strategic priorities.  Diversity is more than respecting differences between ethnic groups or genders; it is about acknowledging a variety of dimensions and life situations.  It helps create more productive workplaces, build an environment of inclusion, attract, retain and engage talented people, gain a competitive advantage and provide superior service to clients.  The RBC value, “diversity for growth and innovation” makes good business sense and is the right thing to do for employees, customers, communities and shareholders alike.

An organizational culture may be good or bad in relationship with the productivity and revenue levels of the organization.  A simplistic way to understand this notion is to assume that whereas one organization employs its workers five days a week on the job; another allows them four holidays off whenever they perform excellently.  Such practices become an integral part of the organizational culture which employs them.  And so, scholars have pointed out the four essential factors that make for an effective organizational culture versus an ineffective one.  According this model, effective organizations empower their employees, organize themselves around teams, and also develop human capability.

Secondly, effective organizations tend to have strong cultures that are “highly consistent, well coordinated, and well integrated” in terms of certain core values.  Third, organizations that are well integrated and also responsive to external factors – the most important of which are the customers – have the most effective organizational cultures.  Finally, effective organizations are ones with a clear sense of purpose and direction.  These organizations must also have goals and strategic objectives, expressing a vision of the organizational future (Fey and Denison, 2003).

     According to a news report, “Company Leaders Beware: Neglecting Organizational Culture May Pose Risks to Earnings, Growth and Shareholder Value,” published through the PR Newswire (2006), the organizational culture is vital to the success or failure of a business.  By understanding its own organizational culture and organizational needs, a company may very well work to improve its organizational culture and thereby fulfill its organizational needs in terms of productivity and revenues.  However, companies that do not pay any attention to their organizational cultures, are warned that they may undermine their business results by not paying heed to their cultures.  To put it another way, the organizational culture is a means of gaining competitive advantage, and companies that have not thus far viewed organizational behavioral science as essential to business success, must gain an awareness of this science before it is too late.

     Sheryl Shivers-Blackwell (2006) writes, “Organizational culture, through its existence and influence on behavior, frames and shapes the use of leader behaviors.”  The behavior of leaders is influenced by other players in the organizational structure, that is, the subordinates, the consumers, and the suppliers.  For a leader to change his own behavior, and therefore organizational management to achieve improved business results, an understanding of the organizational culture is necessary.  What is more, by understanding the organizational culture, the leader can seek to influence the other players in the organizational structure – through leadership strategies.  A change in organizational structure is bound to bring a change in the behavior of the leader as well.  Moreover, this change in the culture may very well lead to improved effectiveness in the organizational practices.

     Andy Hines (2006) points out that environmental scanning is essential to business success.  This means, of course, that the organization must keep an eye on its own organizational culture, which includes the external players in its makeup.  As a matter of fact, by environmental scanning a company is better equipped to make organizational changes.  It may decide, for example, to downplay a certain cultural factor, or upgrade the importance of another one.  Organizations can influence the culture or the environment.  By so doing, they can increase in productivity and revenues, provided that they make necessary changes in the organizational environment or culture.  In short, organizational culture is of the essence, both to understand an organization, and to improve an organization’s productivity and increase revenues.

Annotated Bibliography

Alvesson, Mats. (2002). Understanding Organizational Culture. London: Sage.

Written by one of the leading proponents of “organizational symbolism” in Europe, this book is a scholarly account of the meaning of organizational culture.  Essentially a university textbook, Understanding Organizational Culture provides an in-depth analysis of the subject.  The author uses researches to support his understanding of the organizational culture.  In the process, he discusses diversity as one of the most important makers of this culture.

I have found this book very useful to gain an understanding of organizational culture.  This book was especially important in moving the present analysis in the direction of organizational change, and the actors responsible for change.

Coffey, Charlie, and Tombari, Norma. (2005, July). The bottom-line for work/life leadership: linking diversity and organizational culture. Ivey Business Journal Online.

Published in a business journal, “The bottom-line for work/life leadership: linking diversity and organizational culture” is a scholarly article reflecting on work/life leadership and talent management.  These important organizational factors are linked to organizational culture as well as diversity.  The article emphasizes on change in organizational culture with respect to the needs of an organization.  It thus makes it clear that organizations that learn and grow are always better off.

My understanding of organizational culture with respect to diversity has been advanced through this scholarly article.

Fey, Carl F., and Denison, Daniel R. (2003, November). Organizational culture and effectiveness: can American theory be applied in Russia? Organizational Science.

“Organizational culture and effectiveness: can American theory be applied in Russia?” is a scholarly article describing effective organizations versus the ineffective ones with respect to the organizational culture.  The article, published in a professional journal, is also focused on the American theory of organizational culture being applied in Russia.  The authors have performed an extensive study to understand organizational culture in both nations.  They have also clarified very important differences among the organizational cultures in the two countries.

This article was very helpful to my understanding of good and bad organizational cultures.  While on the surface it may appear that all organizational cultures are good, this is clearly not the case, given that some are more effective than others.

Hines, Andy. (2006, September). Strategic foresight: the state of the art. The Futurist.

“Strategic foresight: the state of the art” clarifies the importance of environment scanning for organizations that wish to make gains.  In fact, it imperative for organizations to understand their organizational culture before they can make changes to it in order to increase revenues.  Organizations that fail to understand what influences them, do also fail in the long run.  This is because organizations with a focus on the science of organizational behavior are gaining a competitive advantage.

I have been tremendously helped by this article in my analysis of organizational culture, seeing that the author has written in very simple words the importance of understanding organizational culture.

McNamara, Carter. (1997). Organizational Culture. Management Help. Retrieved from http://www.managementhelp.org/aboutfml/what-it-is.htm. (16 February 2007).

“Organizational Culture” is an Internet article written by an MBA and PhD, who works for Authenticity Consulting, LLC.  Carter McNamara has written the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision, which the Internet article is adapted from.  This article provides simple definitions of culture and the different types of culture.  These definitions are especially for introductions to research papers on the subject.

This article has been a tremendous source of support for laying the foundation of my organizational culture analysis.  By defining culture in a simple way, the author made it convenient for me to incorporate the definition into an expanded analysis on the subject.

PR Newswire. (2006, December 12). Company Leaders Beware: Neglecting Organizational Culture May Pose Risks to Earnings, Growth and Shareholder Value.

“Company Leaders Beware: Neglecting Organizational Culture May Pose Risks to Earnings, Growth and Shareholder Value” is an important news report which describes quantitative data to support itself.  The report concentrates on the importance of organizational culture.  Additionally, it warns companies that have not thus far applied the science of organizational behavior to improve themselves.  The report clarifies the fact that organizational behavior science is a means to gain a competitive advantage in the organizational world today.

This news report was very useful because it gave me numerical figures to understand the difference between organizations that focus on their cultures versus those that do not.  Moreover, the report made it clear that organizational culture is very important for business success.

Shivers-Blackwell, Sheryl. (2006, June 22). The influence of perceptions of organizational structure & culture on leadership role requirements: The moderating impact of locus of control & self-monitoring. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies.

The author of “The influence of perceptions of organizational structure & culture on leadership role requirements: The moderating impact of locus of control & self-monitoring” has performed extensive research to understand the influence of the perception of organizational culture and structure on leadership role requirements.  The article, published in an academic journal, is very useful in understanding leadership styles to boot.  Moreover, the organizational structure with respect to the organizational culture is discussed.  This helps to clarify the reader’s understanding of organizational processes.

I have found this article very useful in relating leadership to my analysis of organizational culture.  I needed an understanding of the relationship between organizational culture and leadership.  This article filled the need.

Whitfield, Gwendolyn, and Landeros, Robert. (2006, September 22). Supplier diversity effectiveness: does organizational culture really matter? Journal of Supply Chain Management.

This scholarly article published in an academic journal discusses supplier diversity with reference to organizational culture.  The authors have conducted research to find out how supplier diversity must be managed to productively influence the organizational culture.  This article is also very useful because it provides excellent descriptions of the relationship of organizational culture with diversity.  Furthermore, it provides a base for further research on the subject.

This article helped me to understand the relationship between organizational culture and diversity.

Analysis Of Short Stories “The Yellow Wallpaper” And “The Tell-Tale Heart”

“The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Gilman, Charlotte Perkins short story illustrated the attitudes towards women’s mental and physical health in the 19th century. The story presented in first person is a collection of a woman’s journal entries whose physician husband, John had confined her in a bedroom upstairs. The husband believes that confinement is the best rest cure after the childbirth and forbids her from working where she has to struggle to hide the journal from him.

The confinement affects the narrator’s mental health with the absence of anything to stimulate that she gets obsessed by the color and pattern of the wall paper “It make me think of all the yellow things I ever saw”( Schilb and Clifford 958). The woman refuses to leave the room at the end even after the summer rental finishes and locks herself in there. John opens the door where he faints after finding the wife circling the walls, touching the wallpaper and creeping around the room.

The short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” by Poe, Edgar Allan has an unnamed narrator who strives in convincing the reader of his sanity by describing the murder he already committed. He is suffering from nervous disease that causes his senses to be over acute but he sane. He lives with an old man with a “vulture-like” pale blue eye that distresses the narrator that he plots to kill him. The author asserts, “He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it” (Poe 1251).

The narrator attempts for seven nights but succeeds on the eighth one. He conceals the body in the floorboard even after the neighbor heard the screams and called the police. The guilt of the murder overwhelmed him and he confessed to the police by telling them to reveal the body by tearing the floorboards. The two short stories are very gothic as they include elements associated with Goth. The elements include all the things that make the stories spooky or dark. In this case, the insanity adds to the stories gothic nature.

The stories settings too contribute, For instance, the yellow wallpaper in Gilman’s story and the rented house Poe’s seem spooky and make the reader uneasy or scared. In addition, the mentions of the woman trapped in the wall and the pale blue vulture aye are gothic and disturbing. Secondly, each of the stories has an unnamed and unreliable narrator. As much as they are first person, narratives the names of the narrators are not revealed.

A narrator is termed as unreliable if he cannot precisely describe the story’s event due to youth or madness. In this case, an accurate description of the events in a realistic way is prevented by madness in both narratives. Instead, what is happening and their observations are colored by madness that makes it difficult for the reader to differentiate what to believe and what not to. The absence of the names adds to the distance and uneasiness.

Thirdly, both “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” involve narrators suffering from the mental illness. In both cases, the narrators do not seem to realize that fact themselves neither does the people they interact. John realized the wife was mentally ill late after the vacation when she locked herself inside the room, and sees her crawling the yellow wall that makes him faint. So does the old man with the scary eye. Moreover, the two short stories portray the theme of isolation that results to insanity.

In Gilman’s short story, John takes his wife to a vacation in a country house to recover from a perceived mental breakdown. The woman gets separated from her husband and children in the bedroom upstairs as it was believed that it would aid in her recovery. However, this does not happen as she eventually run mad.

She believes that the woman on the yellow wallpaper was coming out. In Poe’s short story, the man who kills the old man cannot clearly explain to the audience the reason why he killed the old man. After the narrator was isolated with, the dismembered body that hidden beneath the floorboards was enough to drive him nuts. His guilt grows and he starts hearing the dead man’s heartbeat making him confess ultimately to the crime.

In addition, the two stories have a theme of conflict. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the mentally troubled woman struggles with her husband who is perceived to be the doctor treating her postpartum depression. The conflict is over the treatment and the nature of her illness. She conflicts with her mind about the yellow wallpaper but decides to keep it to herself by writing a personal journal, which she hides from her husband. In “The Tell-Tale Heart “the theme of conflict is explored where the narrator is not at peace with himself. He claims to love the old man but hates his evil eye.

The narrator conflicts with his soul whether to kill the old man or spare him. After hiding the body the narrator, “replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye-not even his- could have detected anything wrong” (Poe 2149). The use of symbolism in both stories is evident, For example, the old man’s eye was pale blue with a “veil” cover. This could be a common medical condition referred to as corneal ulcer. Symbolically it meant that the character had some issues with their inner vision commonly known as problems with one’s outlook of the world. People with such are stuck and everything is obscured.

The eye seemed unseeing and dull yet it had strange powers making the narrators blood run cold. In the yellow wallpaper, several symbols used to show the women’s struggle in the male dominated society and their oppression. The yellow wallpaper itself symbolizes the mental screen men attempted to place on women during 1800s. The writer declares, “I never saw a worse paper in my life” (Gilman 957).

The narrator stated that she is almost completely forbidden from doing any “work” by both her brother and husband (Schilb and Clifford). The color yellow is associated with weakness or sickness and the narrator’s mysterious illness symbolizes the man’s oppression on the females. Gilman writes, “The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.” The two windows that the narrator peeps out represent the possibilities of men seeing women as their equals.

In conclusion, the Gilman and Poe stories deal with bizarre events that were openly plausible to the readers. The credibility concept is divisible in that; whether the events occurred as the narrators reported are believable, whether the narrator wad telling the truth as they knew or it was part of the ill condition, and whether the narrators were real and the events indeed happened to them

. Since both the stories dealt with apparent madness, it was difficult to differentiate the actual events and those from the wild narrator’s imaginations. Both the narrators concentrate on making the protagonists’ obsession plausible. Poe’s work was much shorter and he succeeded with the style and tone. He identifies the narrator as mad but underscored by frequent denials. In Gilman’s story, the narrator is understood as mad later in the narrative.

The Great Gatsby: Appearance Vs Reality

F. Scott Fitzgerald presents multiple themes and characters that have an overlaying façade that they portray throughout the novel. Fitzgerald’s main representation of illusion is with James Gatz or Jay Gatsby as he is known in the time covered in the novel. Gatsby can also be considered to be the embodiment of illusion within the novel. It is revealed that James Gatz created the persona of Jay Gatsby. As the novel continues it becomes apparent that James Gatz no longer exists and that Gatz has completely internalised Jay Gatsby making it his true identity. This appears to have damaging effects on Gatsby that we find out throughout the novel, however Gatsby appears to be in denial about these effects “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!” In order for Gatsby to preserve his identity he has to keep up the façade of having a wealthy upbringing and that he attended Oxford. The reason as to why he invents this persona is evident from the beginning of being introduced to his character.

Gatsby uses his phony identity to achieve a higher social status using his frivolous parties to prove his wealth “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” However it is implied that he actually got his money from illegal trading. The novel is set during prohibition and it is implied that Gatsby gained his money as a bootlegger and used drugstores as a front for his bootlegging. To illuminate how Gatsby created his new identity, Nick Carraway compares him to Jesus Christ, therefore a comparison can be made that Gatsby transformed himself into the ideal man that he envisioned, a “Platonic conception of himself”. Gatsby influences other characters with his illusions of grandeur of the “American Dream”, to the extent that they become corrupted by wealth. Gatsby corrupts Daisy with the wealth he provides her and is ignorant to how he is influencing her “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before”.

The only way he believes he can have Daisy is by buying her affections and as he only focuses on chasing the American Dream he is oblivious to the fact that he is unworthy of this dream and therefore unworthy of her. However, a part of Gatsby is aware of this and the reason he creates his fictitious family is to impress her. In the defence of Gatsby, Daisy lives in her own world of illusions, it’s apparent that she only marries Tom for his money and what his money grants her, which in this case is whatever she desires “of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality”, this quote states that she loves him but the other two reasons act as a counterargument for her love for Tom. Daisy also appears to be in denial about the affair she is having but is exhibiting signs of guilt, for example when Pammy says “Where’s Daddy” Daisy replies “She doesn’t look like her father,” explained Daisy. “She looks like me. She’s got my hair and shape of face.”

In a description of Sylvia Plath’s copy of Great Gatsby, Plath underlines “She looks like me” and writes “no real relation to the child” this could be in relation to Plath’s famous poem ”Daddy” in which she examines a parents objectification of a child in a negative light. Daisy’s participation in her marriage appears to be dependent on her love for material objects and this also becomes clear to Gatsby, who sees clear to exploit this fact to gain her affections. Daisy likes to live in a world of illusions as it allows her to be ignorant to her husband’s infidelity with Myrtle Wilson and gives her justification to be with Gatsby. Daisy also appears to be proud of this way of life and has aspirations for Pammy, her daughter to be the same “And I hope she’ll be a fool. That’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Daisy also embodies illusion on a symbolic level, she is often in white which symbolises purity which on the outside is her façade, that she is pure and without ill will, but she is actually corrupted by money which is often symbolised through gold or green, these colours represent the flower she is named after “Daisy”.

Nick Carraway is one of the novel’s characters that lives in reality “They’re a rotten crowd. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together,” this occurs when Nick realises to what extent money corrupts people. Even though Nick sees reality he still allows money to somewhat possess him at the will of Gatsby who is aware of this. Nick is not as corrupted as the other characters and it’s portrayed through his modest house and the fact that he doesn’t lie or cheat. It’s discovered that Tom is having an affair with Myrtle and she is then killed by Daisy, we see George Wilson fashion one of the most prominent illusions in the novel in which he turns the illusion of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg into an actuality. George and Myrtle Wilson live in the valley of ash. George finds an old billboard that advertises the previously mentioned optometrist. The billboard has gargantuan eyes that are used to represent an omnipotent being, in making this observation; we can see that George is personifying the billboard. After George discovers of Myrtle’s death he seeks guidance from the God like illusion of Eckleburg “God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing,” George believes that Gatsby has been having an affair with Myrtle and also that Gatsby was the one that killed her with his yellow car.

George then responds religiously and asks the God like Eckleburg to enact revenge on Gatsby which results in Gatsby’s death and George’s suicide, thus making George’s illusion of Eckleburg as God, a reality. Through the events seen as illusions, such as “Doctor T.J. Eckleburg”, Daisy’s love for Gatsby and Gatsby destroying his empire for her, Fitzgerald uses these illusions to demonstrate that humans turn to illusions and to things that they know are untrue to create, what can be described as unrealistic and often excessive, impossible realities that we dream of and what most of the characters in the novel seek and is labelled as the “American Dream” Martin Amis conveys characters that partially contrast to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, as Amis portrays John Self as completely ignorant to the reality that he is living, this is unlike Fitzgerald’s character Gatsby, who is very much aware of the illusion that he has fabricated. However the two characters do share the same corrupt persona that impacts their relationships with other characters, Self sees corruption as an attractive attribute especially with Selina “I love her corruption”.

Self’s discovery that Barry is not his father could be Amis’s attempt at symbolising the loss of the self and finally seeing passed the illusion at reality “Don’t you know anything, you bitch’s bastard”. This is similar to Gatsby’s revelation that Daisy will never leave Tom. Both events signify the admission of reality and that the characters have failed to reach their goal, Gatsby has failed to achieve the American Dream and Self has failed to gain the social status that he desires. Forced to confront reality, Self decides he is capable of facing life “I feel solid and stately calm” Amis’s use of the phrase “stately calm” portrays Self in a dignified manner which contrasts to John Self previously in the novel, this suggests that the discovery that Barry isn’t his father allows him to become a different person “Fat John”, the loss of “Self” gives John the opportunity to become a better person. However Self is lazy and neglects this opportunity and decides that suicide is the best solution to his problem “life” and even blames life for this realisation “Deciding is the hard part, and life has decided for me” This is not a solution, its voluntary ignorance, which is a major theme throughout the novel and is even given its own character “Frank the Phone”. Frank acts as an indirect confessional for Self and allows him to confront his indiscretions “You just take women and use them.

Then you toss them aside like a salad” Unfortunately, for the most part Self is arrogant and refuses to even acknowledge his indiscretions “Lots of rich pretty people are expecting me downtown.” Frank states that “Women, for you, are just pornography”, contextually, during the 1980’s pornography was very cheap due to the invention of the home video, Amis’s use of this knowledge allows us to reinforce the idea that Self’s idea of women is that they are easy and to be used to pass the time. This kind of misogyny is similar to The Great Gatsby and Fitzgerald is often criticised for being a misogynist. Self’s misogyny is similar to Tom Buchanan who, when finding out of his wife’s infidelity, was less disturbed about the affair, than the fact she was involved with a man of inferior social class “I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife.” Both Tom and John’s misogyny and hypocrisy both assert themselves with a vengeance.

“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion”

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