Edgar Schein Model of Organization Culture

The term “Organization culture” refers to the values and beliefs of an organization. The principles, ideologies as well as policies followed by an organization form its culture. It is the culture of the workplace which decides the way individuals interact with each other and behave with people outside the company. The employees must respect their organization’s culture for them to deliver their level best and enjoy their work. Problems crop up when individuals are unable to adjust to a new work culture and thus feel demotivated and reluctant to perform.

Who is Edgar Schein ?

Edgar Henry Schein born in 1928 is a renowned professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management who has studied extensively in the field of organization management.

Edgar Schein model of organization culture

According to Edgar Schein - Organizations do not adopt a culture in a single day, instead it is formed in due course of time as the employees go through various changes, adapt to the external environment and solve problems. They gain from their past experiences and start practicing it everyday thus forming the culture of the workplace. The new employees also strive hard to adjust to the new culture and enjoy a stress free life.

Schein believed that there are three levels in an organization culture.

  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.

    Organization A

    • No one in organization A is allowed to dress up casually.
    • Employees respect their superiors and avoid unnecessary disputes.
    • The individuals are very particular about the deadlines and ensure the tasks are accomplished within the stipulated time frame.

    Organization B

    • The employees can wear whatever they feel like.
    • Individuals in organization B are least bothered about work and spend their maximum time loitering and gossiping around.
    • The employees use derogatory remarks at the work place and pull each other into controversies.

    In the above case, employees in organization A wear dresses that exude professionalism and strictly follow the policies of the organization. On the other hand, employees in organization B have a laid back attitude and do not take their work seriously. Organization A follows a strict professional culture whereas Organization B follows a weak culture where the employees do not accept the things willingly.

  2. Values

    The next level according to Schein which constitute the organization culture is the values of the employees. 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. 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.



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