Company Culture, Human Resources

4 Distinct Types of Corporate Culture—Which Is Yours?

Corporate culture—everyone’s concerned about it, but it’s not that easy to pin it down and not that easy to train. Step one is to define your culture.

“Corporate culture” is a popular term often used as a buzzword to describe the climate within an organization. According to Inc., “Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.”

While such definitions are helpful in understanding what corporate culture is, it also can be useful to have some examples. OCAI Online uses what it calls the Competing Values Framework to help illustrate and define four types of corporate cultures. The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) was developed by University of Michigan business professors Robert E. Quinn and Kim S. Cameron.

The framework focuses on four distinct types of company cultures.

Clan Culture

Clan cultures have a friendly, collaborative culture and can be compared to a large family—i.e., a clan—where people have a lot in common. Strong bonds of loyalty, tradition, and commonality generally form. Examples of companies that may have a clan culture include Google, Zappos, or Tom’s of Maine.

Adhocracy Culture 

The root word here is “ad hoc.” An adhocracy is a dynamic and innovative environment where employees are willing to take chances and leaders are typically seen as inspirational innovators willing to challenge assumptions and take risks. Core values reflect change and agility—this is not the type of culture where employees are likely to hear, “We tried that already, and it didn’t work.” Think Facebook and any variety of tech companies that must stay nimble and innovative to remain competitive.

Market Culture

A market culture is a culture in which the goal is to get down to business, get work done, and achieve results. This is often a competitive environment, even among coworkers. The purpose of being at work in a company with this type of culture is to make as much profit and capture as much market share as possible. Amazon is a great example of this type of company, and Jeff Bezos is known as being a demanding taskmaster. Apple, under Steve Jobs’ reign, is another example.

Hierarchy Culture

Process and procedure are everything in a hierarchy culture. Leaders are there to monitor and facilitate adherence to tried and true ways of doing business. Costs and mistakes are kept low by following the rules and the guidelines that have gotten the business this far in the first place. Government organizations are good examples of this type of culture, as are organizations where safety is a primary concern—health care and aviation, for example.

“Corporate culture” is a somewhat vague term, but it can have a huge impact on the fortune of a company and the company’s employees. What kind of culture does your organization have? Is it the right culture to help you succeed in the market you’re in and with the customers you wish to serve? While corporate culture is notoriously difficult to change, it’s not something that should be left to chance or overlooked. As Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” We’d add lunch and dinner, too!

 Attend the workshop, “Culture Mapping Techniques for Better EX: Charting Your Path to Talent Attraction and Retention” at TalentCon 2019 on March 12—13, 2019, in San Antonio, Texas—where you’ll learn how your company can grow and improve your culture and your employee experience. Click here to learn more or to register today!