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Changing Organizational Culture

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Eight Considerations for Culture Change

Trice and Beyer

Summary of Changing Organizational Cultures. Abstract

Harrison M. Trice

Janice M. Beyer

"Because it entails introducing something new and substantially different from what prevails in existing cultures, cultural innovation is bound to be more difficult than cultural maintenance. When innovation occurs, some things replace or displace others... People often resist such changes. They have good reasons to. The successful management of the processes of culture change or culture creation often entails convincing people that likely gains outweigh the losses".


In their excellent book "The Cultures of Work Organizations" (1993)(), Harrison Trice and Janice Beyer provide eight considerations to keep in mind when changing organization cultures:

  1. Capitalize on Propitious Moments (for example poor financial performance, making sure people actually perceive the need for change)

  2. Combine Caution with Optimism (create an optimistic outlook on what the change effort will bring)

  3. Understand Resistance to Culture Change (both at the individual level [fear of the unknown, self-interest, selective attention and retention, habit, dependence, need for security] and at the organizational or group level [threats to power and influence, lack of trust, different perceptions and goals, social disruption, resource limitations, fixed investments, interorganizational agreements]

  4. Change Many Elements, But Maintain Some Continuity (for example identify the principles that will remain constant)

  5. Recognize the Importance of Implementation (initial acceptance and enthusiasm are insufficient to carry change forward; a) adoption --> b) implementation --> c) institutionalization)

  6. Select, Modify, and Create Appropriate Cultural Forms (employing symbols, rituals, languages, stories, myths, metaphors, rites, ceremonies)

  7. Modify Socialization Tactics (because the primary way that people learn the corporate culture is through the socialization process at the beginning of their employment, if these socialization processes are changed, an organization's culture will begin to change)

  8. Find and Cultivate Innovative Leadership (members are unlikely to give up whatever security they derive from existing cultures and follow a leader in new directions unless that leader exudes self-confidence, has strong convictions, a dominant personality, and can preach the new vision with drama and eloquence)

Compare with the Eight Considerations towards Changing Organizational Cultures:  Levels of Culture  |  Cultural Intelligence  |  Change Management Iceberg  |  Change Phases  |  Six Change Approaches  |  Force Field Analysis  |  Core Groups  |  Planned Behavior  |  Organizational Learning  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Change Model Beckhard  |  Contingency Theory  |  Groupthink  |  RACI

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