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The Corporate Culture Survival Guide Hardcover – August 17, 2009
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Culture. We blithely use the term for just about anything--a vibrant culture, a dominant culture, a corporate culture. But do we really know what we're saying, what culture really means? Or do we most often assume that the term is just a convenient way to group those with a common purpose or goal and a method for achieving it? Isn't a corporate culture, for example, just "the way we do things around here"?
No, it's not. In The Corporate Culture Survival Guide, Edgar Schein reveals how that's merely the tip of the iceberg, an iceberg that managers ignore at the peril of their company's future. Underneath lies the much-harder-to-grasp "essence" of the company, the "learned, shared, tacit assumptions on which people base their daily behavior." These assumptions are learned over time and in different internal and external environments, becoming, as Schein puts it, the "residue of success." As these assumptions influence all aspects of how a company functions, discovering their nature and cause is vital to the success of any new organization-wide venture or strategy. In the second half of the book, Schein illustrates how, using this knowledge, a company's culture can be deliberately created or changed. Supported by numerous case-study examples, his advice is pertinent to startups, mature companies, and blended organizations.
If you're the type of manager that needs a quick-fix solution, with simple catch phrases and an easy Five Step Program to Success, this book is not for you. Nor are the benefits to be gained from acquiring the depth of knowledge and insight needed to understand, work with, and transform your corporate culture. Using intelligent, lucid prose, Schein provides this kind of insight and more; he tells cautionary as well as inspiring tales of what this insight can mean for your company, and offers useful suggestions for putting knowledge into practice. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In the Corporate Culture Survival Game, Schein (Sloan Sch. of Management, MIT; Organizational Culture and Leadership) presents a guide for managers, CEOs, and consultants about assessing organizational cultures. Drawing on his years of worldwide corporate consulting, Schein has determined that corporate cultures are evolutionary phenomena that may be altered to keep business competitive. After describing methodologies for determining the current state of corporate culture, Schein presents models for changing those cultures. With mergers and acquisitions throwing disparate corporate cultures together at an unprecedented rate, the need to find a common ground and create effective business practices has become a real problem; Schein's methodologies and models should be welcome tools in helping companies reevaluate and reform their identities. Highly recommended for corporate, academic, and large public libraries.ARobert L. Balliot Jr., Middletown P.L., RI
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The book consists of two parts. The first part is called "basics" and it covers... well... the basics. The second part is called "in action" and covers different context and organizations and how the culture develops and how it can (or cannot) be influenced.
The basics part consists of 4 chapters which follow a good and logical structure. Why does culture matters? What is culture? How is it created? How can you assess it? One of the surprising themes in the book was that cultural assessment is only useful in the context for solving a certain problem. Without a problem to solve, the assessment will be broad and likely a waste of time. I found this insightful and definitively different than I had been thinking about corporate culture.
The second part puts the basics in several different context and shows how the context matters, how culture is affecting the organization in such a context and what you can do about it (or not). It starts with start-up companies and how culture is often related to the belief system of the founders. The next chapter covers transformational change and how to do this and why this is so difficult (or nearly impossible). Next chapter is mature organizations and how and why culture is so hard to change (and the influence of many sub-cultures. The following chapter covers acquisitions and mergers or when different national cultures meet. What is the result of culture clashes and what should you do about it? The last chapter summarizes the previous ones and comes to some conclusions on the impact of change leaders.
The corporate culture survival guide was insightful and enjoyable. Ed Schein has a direct clear style of writing with a lot of stories from his own long history. The book is definitively recommended for people interested in learning about corporate culture. I've been doubting between 4 and 5 stars for a while and decided to stick with 4. The reason is that the book is good, I learned a lot from it, yet lacked a wow moment causing my perspective to change dramatically. Still, it is very good.
My favorite part of the book was where it deals with the lessons learned that get embedded into a culture, particularly a corporate culture. Every group has had challenges and has had to learn what works or doesn't work for them. On a subconscious level, these things become part of the bedrock of a corporate culture. When they are no longer true, when what once worked no longer does, it is no wonder that the culture cannot change readily.
I think this book is valuable for anybody since we're all dealing with subcultures of some kind. Especially it is valuable for a consultant charged with making changes to an organization or for a change agent within a corporation.
In this great follow up to his earlier works on the subject [see Organizational Culture and Leadership (The Jossey-Bass Business & Management Series)], Schein offers a user-friendly primer on what corporate culture is, why it matters, and the role it plays in things like mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures.
If and when you struggle with culture issues in a corporate setting, this book should be your user manual.