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on July 21, 2001
This book provides an excellent portrayal (though an ethnographic study) of a company which utilizes corporate culture as a means of control. The company expends great energy at inculcating an ideology that results in the employees putting the company and their work at it above all else, exhibited not only in discourse, but in failed marriages and overtime. This text illustrates how employees are converted into missionaires who will follow productions schedules and management strategies with religious zeal, oblivious to their personal lives and the cost of these new commitments. It would be interesting to see what these types of companies are doing today to manipulate and extract full faith and commitment from employees. A must read for software engineers and those who study organizations and org. psych.
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on April 25, 2000
Kunda in his book explains that culture could be used as a powerful weapon that the organization uses against the workers to manipulate and finally control them, reaching the organization's goals. The author supports this idea through the study of the High Technologies Corporation (HTC) case, a "state of the art" company that designs, develops, manufactures, sells, and services a number of popular high-tech products. The company has been a high-tech success story through three decades of existence. According with Kunda, culture is a set of rules that support the relationship between the company and the people, specifically it is compound by rules for behaviors, thoughts and emotions. The conformation of this set is carried out by the interaction within workers and between the company, it means that each individual within the company could be affecting the organization culture (interactive effect). Kunda explains that the company sees the culture as a reengineering process, where it have to be redesigns and maintained to get the goals of the company. On another way, control is the effect to internalize and institutionalize the set of rules to get involve and part of the organization. Once obtained this level, the worker will be internally committed, strongly identified with company's goals, and intrinsically satisfied by his or her work; therefore, he or she will not need the company to be coercive with them to play his or her own role in the job. A company uses rituals as the machinery to model the culture. These rituals in HTC are conformed by structural speeches, presentations, meetings, lectures, parties, team and inter-group meetings and training workshops. Other elements used by companies are the myths; the company supports its message through a leader, who serves as model to follow. Finally, the common vocabulary is used to reinforce the identification of workers with organization's culture. An important dilemma that the employee faces is adopt or not adopt the organization's culture. Can they really have this choice? According to Kunda, some employees are alienating completely trough the culture, even losing their autonomy (marginal workers). Another workers are reluctant to adopt and intelligently simulate the internalization of culture or maybe draw a line to separate own culture and corporation culture. Both groups want really want to be part of the organization. In conclusion, culture is a mean to get corporation's goals and workers' convenience. In this sense the worker "choice" is to get involves or not with the trade-off to get high positions or not.
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on December 30, 2014
Recommended in better understanding culture and how it can control companies and the lives of many people who work in them. This book gets into the details of the culture of an engineering company which ultimately drove many of the employees to put their work first, before anything else in their lives. It's a great book for leaders of small and large teams.
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on April 30, 2015
I read this book after hearing a Kunda lecture. He's informative and engaging, and I've been able to apply the learnings from this book to frequently-occurring business situations. A good read!
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on July 12, 2011
This book is a great read for anyone considering how to integrate team, new employees, acquisitions and management fit. We start out learning what culture is and how each company has culture at the smallest levels, and how productivity can be enhanced or hindered by how management deals with culture. The book goes on to discuss how difficult it is to change culture and when an attempt is made, management from all levels needs to believe and act on this change. The book goes on to mention how actions are louder than words and management needs to massage culture to get the highest performance of it's people.
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on August 17, 2012
Would love to buy it. But only if you put it on Kindle. If you can translate it into so many different languages surely you can get it uploaded and on line, no? Sounds like a win-win proposition for all.
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VINE VOICEon November 5, 2006
Let an anthropologist walk around freely in a high-tech company, studying what people say to each other and why, and you get "ethnography of corporate culture". I suppose the reason companies allow (or even invite) this kind of study is to see if their attempts to mold corporate culture for better productivity really work.

Simple answer: no, it doesn't. You can try to manage culture, and control people's thoughts and reactions, but if you do it strongly enough to have an effect, people will notice. It can create cynicism as well as emotional conflict as people try to reconcile membership in the company culture with their feelings of being manipulated. Kunda is thorough, and honest -- transparently describing his own methods in an epilogue chapter.

I gave it a 3 only because I found it a long read to read about someone else's corporate culture. Better, perhaps, to take time here and there to think about our own.
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