Characteristics of Organizational Culture; Like every person has his style of behavior, his personality, similarly the organization has a distinct culture. This culture may define as a set of all the espoused values of the organization. The culture of the organization can tier into 3 levels base on their visibility and how closely they are adhering to in the organization. The first level is Artifacts and Behavior. Artifacts and behavior are the most visible components of organizational culture. Also learn, What is Organizational Commitment? Most Important Characteristics of Organizational Culture!

How to Explain Most Important Characteristics of Organizational Culture?

They include the physical layout of the workplace and the observable behavior of its employees. The next level is Values. Values are less visible than behavior but they can see as they influence the observable behavior of the individuals working in the organization. But the top tier of organizational culture may see at the level of Assumptions and Beliefs. They cannot see, but they are so well ingrained in the employees that they come out quite naturally because that is the way the organization thinks.

Organizational culture is the outcome of both the management’s initial beliefs and employees’ adoption of those beliefs.

Explaining the Primary Characteristics of organizational culture:

The following characteristics of organisational culture below are;

As we can see, the unique ‘behavior’ of an organization can attribute to the makeup of the values that it espouses – the organizational culture. Let us understand these primary characteristics that define an organization’s culture as a whole, the ones that help shape up the organization’s ‘personality’.

These are very general characteristics that every organization would have to look into, otherwise, the culture would seem incomplete. Although all these characteristics are at some level a part of every company, the importance and individual interpretation of each differs from business to business, thus making each business unique in its way.

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Innovation and Risk-Taking:

Risk and returns go hand in hand. Places where you take a risk (calculate the risk of course!), the chances of returns are higher. Same goes for innovation. You could either be a follower or a pioneer. Pioneering has its share of risks, but at times, it can also have a breakthrough outcome for the organization. Thus, innovation and risk-taking are one of the main characteristics of organizational culture-defining

how much room the business allows for innovation.

Companies with cultures that place a high value on innovation encourage their employees to take risks and innovate in the performance of their jobs. Companies with cultures that place a low value on innovation expect their employees to do their jobs the same way that they have the train to do them, without looking for ways to improve their performance.

Attention to Detail:

Attention to detail defines how much importance a company allows precision and detail in the workplace. This is also a universal value as the degree of attention the employees are expecting to give is crucial to the success of any business. The management defines the degree of attention to be given to details.

This characteristic of organizational culture dictates the degree to which employees are expecting to be accurate in their work. A culture that places a high value on attention to detail expects its employees to perform their work with precision. A culture that places a low value on this characteristic does not.

Outcome Orientation or Emphasis:

Some organizations pay more attention to results rather than processes. It is the business model of each business that defines whether the focus should be on the outcome of the processes. This defines the outcome orientation of the business.

Companies that focus on results, but not on how the results are achieving, place a high emphasis on this value of organizational culture. A company that instructs its sales force to do whatever it takes to get sales orders has a culture that places a high value on the emphasis on outcome characteristic.

People Orientation or Emphasis:

This is still one of the most contentious issues in organizational culture today. How much should be the management focus on the people? Some organizations are famous for being employee orient as they focus more on creating a better work environment for its ‘associates’ to work in. Others still are feudal, treating employees no better than work-machines.

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Companies that place a high value on this characteristic of organizational culture place a great deal of importance on how their decisions will affect the people in their organizations. For these companies, it is important to treat their employees with respect and dignity.

Teamwork or Team Orientation:

It is a well-established fact that synergistic teams help give better results as compared to individual efforts. Each organization makes its efforts to create teams that will have complementary skills and will effectively work together.

Companies that organize work activities around teams instead of individuals place a high value on this characteristic of the organizational culture. People who work for these types of companies tend to have a positive relationship with their coworkers and managers.


Every organization also lays down the level of aggressiveness with which their employees work. Some businesses like Microsoft are known for their aggression and market-dominating strategies.

This characteristic of organizational culture dictates whether group members are expecting to be assertive or easygoing when dealing with companies they compete in the marketplace. Companies with an aggressive culture place a high value on competitiveness and outperforming the competition at all costs.


While some organizations believe that constant change and innovation is the key to their growth, others are more focused on making themselves and their operations stable. The management of these organizations is looking at ensuring the stability of the company rather than looking at indiscriminate growth.

Just like having a strong personality adds character to a person, organizational culture does give a business its own special identity. It helps create cohesion among the employees as they share the primary characteristics of organizational culture and imbibes in them the spirit of teamwork.

A company whose culture places a high value on stability are rule-oriented, predictable, and bureaucratic. These types of companies typically provide consistent and predictable levels of output and operate best in non-changing market conditions. The culture of any organization is a reflection of the belief system or the values of its leaders, it is majorly a leadership factor that determines the culture of the firm. When the right leader is in the place he or she can shield the firm from wrong external negative culture.

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Simple Characteristics of Organisational Culture:

The following characteristics help us to understand the nature of organizational culture better. When we mix and match these characteristics, we get to the basis of culture:

Individual Autonomy:

The degree of responsibility, freedom, and opportunities of exercising initiative that individuals have in the organization.


The degree to which the organization creates clear objectives and performance expectations. It also includes the degree of direct supervision that is used to control employee behavior.

Management Support:

The degree to which, managers provide clear communication, assistance; warmth and support to their subordinates.


The degree to which, members identify with the organization. As a whole rather than with their particular workgroup or field of professional expertise.

Performance Reward System:

The degree to which reward system in the organization like an increase in salary, promotions, etc. is based on employee performance rather than on seniority, favoritism and so on.

Conflict Tolerance:

The degree of conflict present in relationships between colleagues and workgroups. As well as the degree to which employees are encouraged to air conflict and criticisms openly.

Risk Tolerance:

The degree to which, employees are encouraged to be innovative, aggressive and risk-taking.

Communication Patterns:

The degree to which, organizational communications are restricted to the formal hierarchy of authority.

Outcome Orientation:

The degree to which, management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on the techniques and processes used to achieve these outcomes.

People Orientation:

The degree to which, management decisions take into consideration the impact of outcomes on people within the organization. When we appraise the organization based on the above characteristics. We get a complete picture of the organization’s culture. This picture becomes the basis of shared norms, beliefs, and understanding that members have about the organization. How things are done in it and how the members are supposing to behave.

How to Explain Most Important Characteristics of Organizational Culture
How to Explain Most Important Characteristics of Organizational Culture?

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