Considerations Changing Organization Cultures

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"Because it entails introducing something new and substantially different from what prevails in existing cultures, cultural innovation is (...) more difficult than cultural maintenance. When innovation occurs, some things replace or displace others... People often resist such changes. They have good reasons to. The successful management of the processes of culture change or culture creation often entails convincing people that likely gains outweigh the losses".


In their excellent book "The Cultures of Work Organizations", Harrison Trice and Janice Beyer provide a number of ideas that you should remember and consider when you are changing the culture of an organization:


Eight considerations to keep in mind when changing organization cultures

  1. Capitalize on Propitious Moments. For example poor financial performance. Make sure people actually perceive the need for change.

  2. Combine Caution with Optimism. Create an optimistic outlook regarding what the change effort will bring.

  3. Understand Resistance to Culture Change. Both at the individual level [fear of the unknown, self-interest, selective attention and retention, habit, dependence, need for security] and at the organizational or group level [threats to power and influence, lack of trust, different perceptions and goals, social disruption, resource limitations, fixed investments, interorganizational agreements].

  4. Change Many Elements, But Maintain Some Continuity. For example identify the principles that will remain constant.

  5. Recognize the Importance of Implementation. Initial acceptance and enthusiasm are insufficient to carry change forward:

    • adoption
    • implementation
    • institutionalization.
  6. Select, Modify, and Create Appropriate Cultural Forms. Employing symbols, rituals, languages, stories, myths, metaphors, rites, ceremonies.

  7. Modify Socialization Tactics. The primary way that people learn the corporate culture is through the socialization process at the beginning of their employment. Because of that, if these socialization processes are changed, an organization's culture will begin to change.

  8. Find and Cultivate Innovative Leadership. Members are unlikely to give up whatever secure stability they derive from existing cultures and follow a leader in new directions unless that leader exudes self-confidence, has strong convictions, a dominant personality, and can preach the new vision with drama and eloquence.

Book: Harrison Trice and Janice Beyer - The Cultures of Work Organizations -


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Compare with the Eight Considerations towards Changing Organizational Cultures:  Levels of Culture  |  Culture Types  |  Cultural Intelligence  |  Organizational Memory  |  DICE Framework  |  Change Management Iceberg  |  Servant-Leadership  |  Appreciative Inquiry  |  Positive Deviance  |  Change Phases  |  Six Change Approaches  |  Force Field Analysis  |  Core Group Theory  |  Planned Behavior  |  Organizational Learning  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Change Model Beckhard  |  Contingency Theory  |  Groupthink  |  Spiral of Silence  |  Forget Borrow Learn  |  RACI  |  Positive Deviance


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