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Organizational Culture

Of decisive importance for good results

Organizations and work groups face many challenges. "Culture" is a group's common solutions to these problems. Sometimes old ways of doing things continue on, however, even though times have changed. The group is confronted with changes in its environment, or by internal problems, but is stuck in the past. The question becomes: What kind of cultural change is necessary in order to meet these challenges? Is ours a culture by default, or a culture by design? 

Reorganizing and establishing new departments also requires attention to culture. It's not enough to draw up new organizational charts. Often it is not even necessary: Organizations can save both money and tiresome effort by instead focusing on culture - values, norms and behavior - and how suitable these are relative to internal and external challenges. 

Organizational culture is much more difficult to copy than technical systems. This means that those organizations who are successful in working with culture and the human side of work life, will have a clear competitive advantage.

Culture is deeply embedded in our thought and behavior patterns. It takes time and effort on multiple fronts to develop. We work with methods that already in the analysis-phase involve managers and employees in culture-building. 

Culture in its various aspects is one of Joy Buikema Fjærtoft's main areas of expertise. She started already early on to work with the concept, and wrote her dissertation in the 80's on how burnout and work engagement is related to organizational culture. Since then she has used this perspective in small and large organizational develoment projects and in connections with mergers. In the course of this work she has developed practical tools for working with culture.



                                                                                  Photo: Yay Micro
Organizational culture is a pattern of shared basic assumptions that a 
group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal 
integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, there-
fore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, 
and feel in relation to those problems.
E. Schein 

Projects, courses, seminars, facilitator training 


  • What is organizational culture and why is it important?
  • How to analyze and influence culture
  • Culture's various levels - values, norms, behavior
  • How to define and work towards a common desired culture
  • What should be the same for all, and how much variation can we accept? 
  • Dysfunctional cultures
  • Tools for working with culture
  • When different cultures meet
  • Cross-functional teams in a culture perspective
  • Mergers: What does newer research and practical experience tell us
    about how to succeed? 

 For more on the international, cross-cultural perspective, see Cross-Cultural Skills.