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The Corporate Culture Survival Guide Hardcover – August 17, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 2 edition (August 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470293713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470293713
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"I am writing again, to supplement my longer books of 1985 and 1992 (Organizational Culture and Leadership, first and second editions respectively), and to be more pointed in my argument. There is now abundant evidence that corporate culture makes a difference to corporate performance; we know that leaders increasingly need concepts and tools for working with culture in varied and subtle ways. If you want to take a serious rather than superficial look at culture in organizations, struggle through this book with me-and let the complexity inform you rather than turn you off...In each chapter, I provide the logic of the argument, but I also give you case material and practical suggestions for what you can do to test the ideas for yourself. I hope the chapter titles are self-explanatory; you should feel free to jump around to follow your own questions. I find that learning to see the world through culturally more sophisticated lenses is fun. You see more, and you understand more. I hope that you too discover that it is fun to have cultural insight" (from the Preface).
In this context, Edgar Schein argues that "The bigger danger in trying to understand culture is to oversimplfy it in our minds". Therefore, according to Schein, instead of say that culture is 'the way we do things around here', 'the rites and rituals of our compay', 'the company climate', 'the reward system', 'our basic values', and so on, a better way to think about culture is to realize that it exists at several 'levels'. Thus, he firstly categorizes culture into three levels (more detailed discussion see Chapter Two):
1. 'Artifacts': These are visible organizational structures and processes (hard to decipher).
2.
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Format: Hardcover
Edgar H. Schein provides an excellent conceptual explanation of culture in general and corporate culture in particular. He shows how cultures arise and explains why it is so hard to examine and change an embedded culture. He also lays out practical plans for assessing culture. These plans are not simple or easy, but they promise great reward if carefully followed. Case studies illustrate the concepts and show how corporate problems can be seen in terms of culture. The first half of the book, which lays out the concepts of culture, is especially clear. The second half, which examines cultural issues in various kinds of organizations, uses more jargon and is a bit murkier. Overall, we [...] recommend this book as especially useful for anyone dealing with change, be it moving to a new organization, considering or coping with a merger or acquisition, or even planning to work with people from another group, company or background.
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Format: Hardcover
I was familiar with Schein's earlier book, it having been a prescribed text in an MBA I was doing, so was intrigued with his directions since writing it. I found this book more useful from a practical perspective. In fact, Schein interlaces small sections called "Practical Implications" thoughout, the idea being to get the reader to think about the culture that they exist and work in. Schein makes it clear that corporate culture is a tough area to get clarity on, since we are deeply immersed in it, and not aware of culture's impact on us. It's hard to look at something from the outside (cultural analysis) when working on the inside.
All well and good, a solid practical guide to corporate culture, however where I am finding practical use for Schein's work is in e-business. Schein proves very useful for factoring the cultural dimensions into e-business transformation. I believe that anyone attempting a transformation to become an e-business needs to thoroughly understand corporate culture - something not found in the e-business materials I have seen so far. Schein offers a way of looking at corporate culture that goes beyond the usual platitudes, and attempts to give the reader insights into real understanding. This book should be on the e-business change agent's shelf.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ed Schein has previously done a lot of work on corporate culture and "the corporate culture survival guide" feels like a summary of his decades of work on the subject. Considering that, my first important observation was... the book is thin! The book is barely 200 pages and when 200 pages summarized decades of experience of one of the most influential experts in corporate culture, then the 200 pages probably matter. And they do.

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.
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