Understanding Organizational Culture / Edition 1

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The new edition of this groundbreaking text in Organizational Studies has been revised and updated to keep apace with developments within Organizational Culture.

Unlike other prescriptive books about organizations, Understanding Organizational Culture challenges and provokes critical thinking, giving insight in to the field of organizational culture. Mats Alvesson answers questions of definition, explores alternative perspectives, and expands on substantive issues before discussing key issues of research synthesizes for students the advances in the field of organizational culture. The author also uses examples to develop and illustrate ideas on how cultural thinking can be used in managerial and non-managerial organizational theory and theory-supported practice.

This new edition contains added pedagogical features to increase accessibility and contains expanded coverage of topics such as globalization.

It is essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Management and Organization Studies, particularly for modules in Organizational Behaviour, Organizational Theory and on MBA programmes.

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Editorial Reviews

The author hopes to contribute to a more sensitive and sharper use of the idea of culture in organization and management studies. He argues that culture is best understood as referring to a deep-level, partly non-conscious set of meanings, ideas, and symbolisms. He focuses on both why cultural studies is important to understanding the success of organizations and on how to best study culture by taking in varying perspectives and relating them to each other. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
'Organizational culture remains absolutely central to any understanding of how organizations actually work. With his usual engaging and inimitable style, Mats Alvesson takes the reader on a riveting journey through the diverse ways in which culture itself can be understood and how these powerfully inform organizational life' -
Blake E. Ashforth
W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

'Understanding Organizational Culture manages to communicate complex for those who are less familiar with the concepts discussed, as well as providing a depth and critique of interest to those already familiar with the topics. It is critical without being patronising, dismissive, or jargonistic, and acknowledges the challenges of practice' -
Claire Valentin
The University of Edinburgh, UK

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761970064
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Series: Organizational Culture Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mats Alvesson holds a chair in the Business Administration department at Lund University in Sweden and is also part-time professor at University of Queensland Business School. He has done extensive research and published widely in the areas of qualitative and reflexive methodology, critical theory, organizational culture, knowledge work, identity in organizations, gender, organizational change, management consultancy etc. He has published 20 books with leading publishers and hundreds of articles, many of which are widely cited and used on higher levels in university education.

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Table of Contents

1 The Concept of Organizational Culture 1
The meansing(s) of culture 3
Some comments on the contemporary interest in organizational culture 6
Cognitive interests 8
Objectives of this book 12
Summary 14
2 Culture as a Metaphor and Metaphors for Culture 16
The metaphor concept 16
Metaphors in social science - nuisance or breakthroughs? 19
Metaphors - some problems 22
Culture as critical variable versus culture as root metaphor 24
Metaphors for culture 29
Summary 38
3 Organizational Culture and Performance 42
The dominance of instrumental values 43
Approaches to the culture-performance relationship 47
The culture-performance relationship 53
Does culture cause anything? The problems of separating culture and other phenomena 56
Positive and less positive outcomes of corporate culture: a case study 58
The ambiguity of performance: blame time and milking 64
Conclusion 67
4 Organizational Culture and Business Administration 71
Organizational culture and the business concept 71
Corporate strategy 77
Organizational culture and marketing 80
Other subfields: networks, rationalizations and performance indicators 88
Conclusion 91
5 Leadership and Organization Culture 93
What is leadership? 93
Varieties of leadership 100
Leadership in the context of organizational culture 105
A case of initiator-leadership and follower-leadership 108
Summary and conclusions 114
6 Culture as Constraint: An Emancipatory Approach 118
Culture as a counterforce to variation and autonomy 119
Culture and power 120
Culture as a source of taken-for-granted assumptions 126
Gender and organizational culture 132
Ethical closure in organizations 136
Corporate culture and closure at Pepsi Cola 139
Conclusion: Methodology for critical inquiry 142
7 Multiple-level Shaping and Ambiguity of Culture 145
The appeal of 'pure' symbolism uncoupled from materials practice 145
Taking work and social interaction into account 147
Conceptualization of culture in terms of social level 153
Ambiguity and contradiction: a plurality of values and commitments 160
Summary 166
8 Cultural Change and Conclusions 170
Reminder of the ambitions of this book 170
Against the trivialization of 'managing culture' 171
Managing culture 174
Organizational cultural change as a grand project, as organic movement or the re-framing of everyday life? 177
Working with change 181
A framework for thinking culturally of management and organization 186
Multiple cultural configurations and cultural traffic 190
Prospects 193
References 196
Index 209
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