Maintenance of organisational culture and its fragmentation

In class, we discussed the importance of organisational culture and how a strong organisational culture can be beneficial for both employers and employees. However, it got me thinking about large multi-national corporations (MNCs) that have branches overseas. Can the “original” organisational culture be maintained with “new” roots in a different culture, and is cultural fragmentation within an organisation always a bad thing?


(1) Can the “original” organisational culture be maintained in a “new” country?

So, we know that culture is the underlying set of beliefs, values, norms shared by members of an organisation. The purpose of culture is that it enables employees to take pride in the organisation they are working for and thus creates a sense of belonging.

What about MNCs that have operations in different cultures? Of course, the organisation can communicate what they expect and how the culture is, organisational socialisation, but that does not gurantee the total acceptance of it by the employees in the “new” country. Organisations also hope for anticipatory socialisation where employees accept the values and beliefs of the organisation before entering. However, that is based on the assumption that the future employee has complete access to the knowledge of the “original” company’s culture. Mostly, organisations count on resocialisation when they set up an overseas division, hoping that employees learn the new culture and accept it.

However, I got to thinking that regardless of the learning processes in place for an employee to accept the organisation’s culture, there will be to a certain extent a difference between the “original” organisational culture and the overseas division. A person is exposed to and acculturated into his/her own culture and hence beliefs well before he/she joins the workforce. These beliefs that an employee has are in line with their own culture and culture that the organisation goes into, not necessarily the culture that the organisation brings thus leading to a cultural fragmentation of sorts within an organisation.


(2) Is cultural fragmentation always a bad thing?

But is cultural fragmentation always a bad thing? We talked about reverse socialisation in class where younger members teach older ones hence influencing the organisation’s culture. My take on this is that organisations that do expand to other cultures need to be open to the “new” cultures. Perhaps there is a possibility that there is something new that can be brought back to the “original” base. Or, and more likely, there is a possibility that the “new” culture can reach out to consumers of the region better. Different cultures subscribe to different aspects of cultures, and the “original” organisational culture is more often than not rooted to the culture of the “original” country. However, who is to say that the country that the organisation is expanding to may have aspects of culture that would work better for the organisation and should be adopted? Aspects such as teamwork or being results versus process oriented.

The different cultures that an organisation exposes itself to, I’m sure, has an effect on organisational culture as a whole. While the foundation of the organisational culture is rooted in western ideals, the way the Asian division works, what it believes in and what makes it tick is quintessentially based in the Asian values.

It is my view then that cultural fragmentation of an organisation’s culture can be beneficial. That’s the way that it can effectively attract talent from respective countries, it also ensures that within an organisation there is diversity. There is a need for organisation culture to constantly be challenged and adapted as that, to me, is a sign that an organisation is open and flexible to change and that in itself is telling of an organisation’s culture.

There needs to be a feedback channel between the “original” organisation and the “new” division of it to discuss which aspects of the organisation’s culture is different and should be changed according to the country that new operations are in. In this way, there is a flatter learning curve during resocialisation as employees can identify easier with the organisation’s culture when it has been adapted to not conflict with the values and beliefs that they have been brought up with.


All in all, the “original” organisational culture’s set of beliefs will serve as a foundation for the countries that it goes into. However, with increasing globalisation, there is a need to acknowledge that cultural fragmentation within the organisation will happen and it may not always be a bad thing if it is approached with an open mind that wants to learn from it rather than excluding it completely. That attitude, will without a doubt build a better organisational culture for employees and employers alike.

What do you all think?

 

 

Organisational Behaviour in light of the Singapore Budget

Hi everyone, as we all know, the 2015 Singapore Budget was recently announced and a few of the points that were highlighted reminded me how pertinent organisational behaviour is. The budget especially got me thinking about the attitudes and motivations behind both employees and organisations regarding productivity efforts.

The budget this year emphasised on innovation and productivity in the workplace. I’ll be focussing specifically on productivity in this post.


Increasing productivity

The Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme (PICS) benefits companies as they will enjoy tax deductions or allowances should they engage in any of the 6 activities that has been pre-set. One of the activities are sending employees for upgrading courses for continuous learning and an increase in productivity. However, I feel it’s important to keep in perspective the difference between the benefits that the organisations receive and the benefits that the employees receive and realise that while employees should in theory have a skill that they can takeaway, companies may have the wrong motivations behind sending employees for skills upgrading courses.

There needs to be a measurement or survey in place to ensure that employees that are being sent for skills upgrading want to attend such courses and have a positive attitude towards learning instead of being ‘forced’ by their organisations to attend such courses for the sole purpose of a higher profit margin.

As we have learnt in class, attitudes are evaluative statements or judgements about something, in this case productivity and workshops that are meant to upgrade skills and hence productivity. Employees opinions need to be heard before being sent for such courses and given a choice as to the type of workshops that they will be attending. Allowing employees to choose exactly the skills that they will be upgrading gives them greater autonomy over their work environment. Should organisations have a specific skill that they require to be picked up, a dialogue session first would seem to be more helpful in ensuring that each employee that does go for workshops that will increase productivity goes for them with a positive attitude.

The importance of considering the attitude that employees have towards productivity is paramount when one considers that perhaps an individual feels he/she is already the most productive out of the group or that they will ever be. Sending such individuals without a feedback dialogue to productivity workshops may be counterproductive considering their potential reluctance to learning. On the other hand, an employee may have chosen their current employment by considering person-job fit and not person-organisation fit. Which means that they joined a company with the thought that they would be a perfect fit for the job and are happy with the skills that they have as they entered. Employees should have a say in what productivity measures are undertaken by them and not be ruled by the fact that the organisation would have a higher profit margin and hence everyone needs to go to workshops.


Motivators

While tax allowances/deductions are motivators to the organisation to ensure employees undergo training to fulfil the PICS requirements, they will not be welcomed by employees that have no control over the workshops, as mentioned above. Why? This can be explained by the self-determination theory which states that the lack of control over the activity that one engages in, undermines his/her motivation in partaking said activity.

Pending what employees value from their work, the lack of control over their working environment could cause a negative effect on their perception of their work and ‘de-motivate’ them from putting in their fullest potential. Which is the opposite of what the budget wants to have happen.

The Singapore budget allows organisations to think about how their profit margins can be increased with schemes and regulations. But, how organisations behave towards compensation towards employees will also have an effect on employee’s attitudes towards the organisation. For example, pay structure is a consideration for many employees. In class we have already discussed money as a motivator. However, organisations in implementing the rules that they will set regarding productivity also needs to be flexible such that they re-look at their compensation structure to ensure it fits with their new rules. Organisations that make use of the piece-rate pay system currently need to realise that employees may have a negative outlook towards workshops as that means hours away from work and hence lower pay. A more appropriate structure perhaps could be skill-based pay that rewards employees based on the skills that they have acquired.


Impact yet to be seen

The effects of the 2015 budget remains to be seen on the behaviour of organisations and the effect on the core of organisations, employees. However, organisations need to take into account the attitudes and motivators of employees before insisting on skills upgrading purely for profit purposes.