Organizational Culture

Learn about the common characteristics of organizational culture.

This module will take you approximately 10-15 minutes and will incorporate a learning component, as well as an assessment at the end of the module.

Happy learning!

What is organizational culture?



1. Organizational Culture

2. Comparing Organizational Cultures

3. Seven Common Characteristics

3. Testing - T/F, Fill in the Blanks, M/C & Matching Game

4. Conclusion

5. References

What is Organizational Culture?

Organizational Culture

Organizational culture is the pattern of common values, beliefs, and assumptions considered to be the appropriate way to think and act within an organization.

It is a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes an organization from other organizations.

Comparing Organizational Cultures

                Organization A

  • Managers must fully document every decision made; individual efforts are encouraged.
  • Changes or decisions that are creative or risky are not encouraged; productivity is valued over employee morale.
  • There are extensive regulations and rules that apply to all employees; employees are told to stay within their own department.

                        Organization B

  • Managers encouraged to reward risk-taking and creativity; team members are encouraged to interact with people at all levels and functions.
  • Employees have very few rules and regulations to follow; failures are thought of as learning experiences.
  • Productivity is balanced with treating employees right; rewards are commonly team-based.

The Seven Common Characteristics of Organizational Culture

  1. Innovation and risk-taking
  2. Attention to detail
  3. Outcome orientation

4.   People orientation 

5.   Team orientation

6.    Aggressiveness 

7.    Stability

1. Innovation and Risk-taking

Innovation and Risk-taking

Individuals are encouraged to be innovative and take risks.

2. Attention to Detail

Attention to Detail

Individuals work with precision, analysis, and attention to detail.

3. Outcome Orientation

Outcome Orientation

Management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on technique and process.

4. People Orientation

People Orientation

Management decisions take into consideration the effect of outcomes on people within the organization.

5. Team Orientation

Team Orientation

Work activities are organized around teams rather than individuals.

6. Aggressiveness


People are aggressive and competitive rather than easygoing.

7. Stability


Organizational activities emphasize maintaining the status quo in contrast to growth.

True or False

  • Red Cross would be considered as having a risk-taking and innovative organizational culture.
  • Attention to detail is very important in the organizational culture of a financial institution such as a bank.
  • Anton works at Disney and describes their organizational culture as aggressive.
  • Organizational culture can be understood in terms of seven different culture dimensions, depending on what is most emphasized within the organization.

Best Buy Co. Inc. can be described as having characteristics of a(n) __________ organizational culture.

  • Stability
  • Innovation and Risk-taking
  • Outcome Orientation
  • None of the Above

A team-oriented organizational culture would have...

  • Employees participate in meetings twice daily, as well as a daily afternoon discussion where they collaborate to understand sources of problems and determine future courses of action.
  • Managers create deadlines that employees must have their work completed by in order to meet quotas.
  • Guidelines in place to prevent quick action, and as a result may be a barrier to a changing and dynamic environment.

Matching Game

  • Stability
    Cultures that are predictable, rule oriented, and bureaucratic.
  • People Orientation
    Cultures that value fairness, support, and respecting individual rights.
  • Aggressive
    Cultures that value competitiveness and outperforming competitors; by emphasizing this, they may fall short in the area of corporate social responsibility.
  • Team Orientation
    Cultures that are collaborative and emphasize cooperation among employees.
  • Outcome Orientation
    Cultures that emphasize achievement, results, and action as important values.
  • Innovation and Risk-taking
    Cultures that are flexible, adaptable, and experiment with new ideas.
  • Attention to Detail
    Cultures that emphasize precision and paying attention to details.



As you have learned, organizational culture can be understood in terms of seven different characteristics, depending on what is most emphasized within the organization. This is what differentiates organizations from others.


Breward, K., Judge, T., Langton, N., Robbins, S. P. (2016). Organizational Behaviour: concepts, controversies, applications (7th ed.). Toronto: Pearson.