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By Noowantee Doorgachum-Boodhoo

“Our cultural strength has always been derived from our diversity of understanding and experience.” - Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist

Four models are discussed here:

  1. Schein's Iceberg Model
  2. Handy's Cultural Types
  3. Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Types
  4. Cultural Transmission Mechanisms

1. Schein's Iceberg model on culture
According to Edgar Schein (1992), “organisational learning, development and planned change cannot be understood without considering culture as the primary source of resistance to change.”
Schein divide organisational cultures into 3 levels:

1. Artifacts
The first level is the characteristics of the organization which can be easily viewed, heard and felt by individuals collectively known as artifacts. The dress code of the employees, office furniture, facilities, behavior of the employees, mission and vision of the organization all come under artifacts and go a long way in deciding the culture of the workplace. Language, stories, and myths are examples of verbal artifacts and are represented in rituals and ceremonies. Technology and art exhibited by members or an organization are examples of physical artifacts.

2. Values
The next level according to Schein which constitute the organization culture is the values of the employees. At this level, local and personal values are widely expressed within the organization. The values of the individuals working in the organization play an important role in deciding the organization culture. The thought process and attitude of employees have deep impact on the culture of any particular organization. What people actually think matters a lot for the organization? The mindset of the individual associated with any particular organization influences the culture of the workplace.

3. Assumed Values
The third level is the assumed values of the employees which can’t be measured but do make a difference to the culture of the organization. These are the elements of culture that are unseen and not cognitively identified in everyday interactions between organizational members. There are certain beliefs and facts which stay hidden but do affect the culture of the organization. The inner aspects of human nature come under the third level of organization culture. Organizations where female workers dominate their male counterparts do not believe in late sittings as females are not very comfortable with such kind of culture. Male employees on the other hand would be more aggressive and would not have any problems with late sittings. The organizations follow certain practices which are not discussed often but understood on their own. Such rules form the third level of the organization culture.
Schein’s iceberg model is useful in that it illustrates that there are visible cultural aspects of an organisation but that there are also elements of culture that are hidden and difficult to interpret. What is visible, for example, are things such as written documents – strategic plans, job descriptions and disciplinary procedures. But if organisational culture, as we have indicated so far, consists of values, beliefs and norms, Schein argues that these exist in people’s heads, which raises the challenge of how actually to identify and interpret them. The key to Schein’s idea is that these three levels of analysis can create a better understanding of the different components of culture in organisations.

Schein Iceberg.jpg

Schein’s model is valuable because it was one of the first scholarly studies that provide the link between scholarly activity and practical applicability. Moreover, the model provided rationales for failures with planned culture changes. The discrepancies between behaviours and understanding between levels two and three also provided a partial explanation for the inability of organisations creating unifying cultures. For examples basic assumptions offer an explanation for the difference between behaviour that is incongruent with stated organisational values. On the negative side, Schein has failed to take into account the impact of issues of identity into the creation of culture. In particular, gender is ignored.

1. Helms-Mills Jean, Dye Kelly and Mills Albert J, (2009) Understanding Organizational Change, New York: s.n.[Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 27 April 2013]

2. Handy's four key forms of culture
Charles Handy born in 1932 in Ireland is a well-known philosopher who has specialized in organization culture. According to Charles Handy’s model, there are four types of culture which the organizations follow: Let us understand them in detail:

1. Power

There are some organizations where the power remains in the hands of only few people and only they are authorized to take decisions. They are the ones who enjoy special privileges at the workplace. They are the most important people at the workplace and are the major decision makers. These individuals further delegate responsibilities to the other employees. In such a culture the subordinates have no option but to strictly follow their superior’s instructions. The employees do not have the liberty to express their views or share their ideas on an open forum and have to follow what their superior says. The managers in such a type of culture sometimes can be partial to someone or the other leading to major unrest among others.

As per Harrison (1992), Handy’s approach may help you understand why you have been more comfortable in some organizations than others. Interestingly, although Handy chooses to talk about culture, he shows the structures associated with his culture types. This may be because of the difficulty of drawing something as diffuse as culture, but it also reinforces the fact that culture and structure are interrelated.
2. Task Culture

Organizations where teams are formed to achieve the targets or solve critical problems follow the task culture. In such organizations individuals with common interests and specializations come together to form a team. There are generally four to five members in each team. In such a culture every team member has to contribute equally and accomplish tasks in the most innovative way.
Influence in this team culture is based upon expertise and up-to-date information where the culture is most in tune with results. The dangers for this culture exist when there is a restriction in resources causing it to become more power’ or ‘role’ orientated.

3. Person Culture

There are certain organizations where the employees feel that they are more important than their organization. Such organizations follow a culture known as person culture. In a person culture, individuals are more concerned about their own self rather than the organization. The organization in such a culture takes a back seat and eventually suffers. Employees just come to the office for the sake of money and never get attached to it. They are seldom loyal towards the management and never decide in favour of the organization. One should always remember that organization comes first and everything else later.

Individuals with this orientation are not easy to manage. There is little influence that can be brought to bear on them. Being specialists, alternative employment is often easy to obtain, or the individuals have protected themselves by tenure so that resource power has no potency. Position power not backed up by resource power achieves nothing. They are unlikely to acknowledge expect power. Coercive power is not usually available; only personal power is left and such individuals are not easily impressed by personality.
4. Role culture

Role culture is a culture where every employee is delegated roles and responsibilities according to his specialization, educational qualification and interest to extract the best out of him. In such a culture employees decide what best they can do and willingly accept the challenge. Every individual is accountable for something or the other and has to take ownership of the work assigned to him. Power comes with responsibility in such a work culture.

1. Management Study Guide (2013). Charles Handy Model of Organization Culture [online] Retrieve from: [Accessed 30 April 2013]
2. Management: Perspective and Practice (2013), Handy’s four types of organisational cultures,
[Online] The Open University. Retrieve from: [Accessed 30 April 2013]
3. Lindsey Sherwin, Managing Change Toolkit- Culture- Handy [Online] Retrieve from: [Accessed 30 April 2013]
4. Naoum Shamil (2001) People and Organizational Management in Construction. Ebooks [Online] London: Thomas Telford . Retrieve from: [Accessed 30 April 2013]

3. Deal and Kennedy four types of culture

From Macho to Process - 4 types of organisational culture
Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy defined four types of organisational culture:
  • Tough-Guy, Macho Culture
  • Work hard and Play Hard Culture
  • Bet-Your-Company High-stakes Culture
  • Process Culture

According to Deal and Kennedy these result from two important influences in the marketplace:
  • The nature of risk in the organisation
  • The rate of feedback regarding the success of what they do

Tough-guy macho culture

This has rapid feedback/reward and high risk, leading to:
  • Stress coming from high risk and potential loss/gain of reward.
  • Focus on the present rather than the longer-term future.
  • Eg. police, surgeons, sports.

Work-hard, play-hard culture

This has rapid feedback/reward and low risk, leading to:
  • Stress coming from quantity of work rather than uncertainty.
  • High-speed action leading to high-speed recreation.
  • Eg. Restaurants, software companies.

Bet-the-company culture

This has slow feedback/reward and high risk, leading to:
  • Stress coming from high risk and delay before knowing if actions have paid off.
  • The long view is taken, but then much work is put into making sure things happen as planned.
  • Eg. aircraft manufacturers, oil companies.

Process culture

This has slow feedback/reward and low risk, leading to:
  • Low stress, plodding work, comfort and security. Stress may come from internal politics and stupidity of the system.
  • Development of bureaucracies and other ways of maintaining the status quo.
  • Focus on security of the past and of the future.
  • Eg. banks, insurance companies.

They also identified six elements of Organisational culture:
  • History
  • Beliefs and values
  • Rituals
  • Stories
  • Heroes
  • The informal cultural network in the business

1. Mind Tools (2013) Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Model -Understanding Rites and Rituals in Corporate Culture [Online] Retrieve from: [Accessed 02 May 2013]
2. Changing Minds.Org-Deal and Kennedy’s Cultural Model. [Online] Retrieve from: [Accessed 02 May 2013]
3. IWise2-Learning for Tomorrow- Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Types: From Macho to Process - 4 types of organisational culture. [Online] Retrieve from: [Accessed 30 April 2013]

4. CTM- cultural transmission mechanism
According to Lisboa de Freitas and Guimaraes (2013), Cultural transmission is a construct used to understand the process in which cultural aspects are apprehended by people that interact with different cultures or between different generations within a culture. This process implies cultural individual transformations instead of mere copy or replication of culture.

Similarly, preferences, beliefs, and norms that govern human behavior are formed partly as the result of genetic evolution, and partly they are transmitted through generations and acquired by learning and other forms of social interactions. The transmission of preferences, beliefs, and norms of behavior which is the result of social interactions across and within generations is called cultural transmission. Cultural transmission is therefore distinct from, but interacts with, genetic evolution.(Bisin and Verdier, 2005)

Direct socialization mechanisms and socio-economic interactions.

Several specific choices contribute to direct family socialization and hence to cultural transmission. Prominent examples are e.g., education decision, family location decisions, and marriage choices While education choices have been studied by Cohen-Zada (2004), and marriage choices by Bisin-Verdier (2000), the literature has shown to date little interest for the socialization effects of location choices, that is, for instance, for the socialization effects of urban agglomeration by ethnic or religious trait.

1. Djalma Francisco Costa Lisboa De Freitas and Danilo Silva Guimarães(2013), An Experimental Study about the Cultural Transmission Process, Psychology & Society, 2013, Vol. 5 (1), 67-86
2. Alberto Bisin and Thierry Verdier (2005) Cultural Transmission, Second Edition, New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

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