Culture is a unique pattern of shared assumptions, values, and norms. Furthermore, we can say that these elements shape the socialization activities, language, and ceremonies of a group of people. In other words, culture develops in large and small groups of people. And in addition, there are variations (subculture) in the same culture. 

Culture is something we overlook in many instances. Socially or in a work environment. We take it for granted and assume that it is the norm. But you only notice culture when someone new enters the workplace. Or when a foreigner becomes your friend. Only then do you realize the cultural norms that exist.

There are a few beneficial questions when getting to know someone’s culture. such as dress codes, the do’s and dont’s. Or how important hierarchy is in the family. Another important question to ask is how are gender roles perceived? One aspect we overlook is time. How do you view time? Are you relaxed with respect to time? and in a work environment, it may be very beneficial to ask what are the criteria for individual success. Furthermore, find out if people are encouraged to ask questions. Or is it disliked? 

Non-Observable VS Observable

Some non-observable elements of culture include shared assumptions and values. Shared assumptions refer to underlying feelings and thoughts. Moreover, it can include time, trust, and view on customers. More often than not, members take culture for granted and believe it to be true. Therefore we can agree that all societies differ in their shared assumptions. Values refer to the basic beliefs about aspects that have importance and meaning to people. Values should also be stable over time. The organisation values refer to flexibility, informality, and working hours.

There are five elements of observable culture. Firstly, the socialisation process. This is a process in which you bring new members into a culture. Here people learn the ropes and learn behaviour norms. For example, through modeling, coaching, and assistance from others. Secondly, symbols. In other words, anything visible representing a shared value. For example, logos, architecture, parking priorities, and uniforms.

The third is the language. For example, people use vocal sounds, written signs, gestures to convey special meaning among members. For example, slang, humour, and jokes. A new member may feel extremely included when this happens. Second to last is the narrative. This includes any unique stories, sagas, legends, myths, unique accomplishments, and beliefs about leaders. And lastly, the practices. In other words, the observable cultural form. For instance, the taboos formal activities and ceremonies.


Two levels of culture exist. Firstly, societal and subcultures. These are preferences of behaviours of customers, employees, and other members of the community. This level of culture does not usually change between countries. For example, in South Africa, ethnic subcultures are based on language religion, and race. Secondly, there is industry culture. These are organisations that share common assumptions and values. For example, the mining industry, automotive industry, or the banking industry.


Different organisations function differently. Some are more strict, and others are more laid back. Some examples of different cultures in organisations include bureaucratic, clan, entrepreneurial, and market. As you can see by the title of bureaucratic, it is formal. Furthermore, it includes rules and hierarchical coordination. Some concerns of the bureaucratic culture include efficiency and stability. The clan culture has an internal focus. They focus on teamwork. And they ensure a sense of identification and on the contrary, interdependence. Here, members manage themselves. 

Entrepreneurial deals with flexible formal control and external focus. It’s about risk-taking, dynamism, creativity. You are encouraged to experiment and be innovative. Lastly, the market culture has a formal control and external focus. Their achievement of measurable and demanding goals are financial and market-based


A strong work culture can be very uplifting. It encourages people to want to work. And to want to contribute. Some indicators of this including how to solve problems and how well employees relate to one another. Furthermore, how employees are to perceive, think and feel about solutions that have been used in past for dealing with various problems. Lastly, how do you determine rewards and punishment?



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