There are numerous and different reasons to explain why organizational culture is important and how it affects an organization. In a disruptive and everchanging world, organizational culture is established as the most important issue for organizations in the private and public sector. It is clear that the 3rd sector does not differ anyhow from the other two sectors, when it comes to organizational culture. Actually, the 3rd sector has the same needs, opportunities, threats and challenges as the other two sectors. Therefore, a solid and explicit organizational culture remains a vital element that affects successes and failures of non-profit organizations.
We cannot deny that organizational culture exists and plays a great role in shaping values and behaviors in non-profit organizations. There is little knowledge on what organizational culture actually is, how it influences the members of a non-profit organization and whether it is something that leaders must take in consideration.
Organizational culture could be defined as “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy 2000). Therefore, it provides an opportunity for non-profit organizations to do things in a proper way. In a way that promotes a positive, creative and innovative culture. One of the best definitions for an organizations culture is the of Martin and Siehl (1983). It is described as “the glue that holds together an organization through shared patterns of meaning, consisting of core values, forms and strategies to reinforce content”.
Organizational culture is the corner stone of an organization, because it directly influences the most vital part of the organization – its members, employees and volunteers. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered as valid (The Business Dictionary).
The importance of organizational culture
There are numerous non-profits that believe they already have a strong organizational culture within their structure, however it is hard to build a solid and effective organizational culture and even harder to keep it.
Most people within NGOs believe that culture is only their vision, goals or even their stances against the other two sectors (public and private). Nevertheless, organizational culture is all the values, perceptions, beliefs and norms that an organization communicates tacitly to its internal and external environment.
Are these values that allure people, sponsors, partners, volunteers and other stakeholders to the organization. These are the same reasons that keep away stakeholder that could contribute to the organization’s goals and vision.
M. Watkins once said that “Culture is the organization’s immune system”. Therefore, we have to protect and enhance it, because it could be a valuable weapon in a disruptive world that is changing rapidly.
A simple guide:
Positive and negative factors that influence and are related to culture
In conclusion, we have to pay attention on the evolution of organizational culture – from the 20th century to the 21st – and to defining the role of leaders in non-profit organizations. Today more than ever, non-profits must take into consideration the notion of organizational culture and create the one that suits them better. This is the path in order to succeed in the 3rd sector and to respond to both external and internal changes.
Deal T. E. and Kennedy, A. A. (1982, 2000) Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1982; reissue Perseus Books
M. Watkins (2013): the first 90 days, Harvard Business Review Press
The Business Dictionary. Organizational culture
Martin, J., & Siehl (1983). Organizational culture and counterculture: An uneasy symbiosis. Organizational Dynamics, 122: 52-65.