Culture Studies

Leverage Company Culture
as a Competitive Advantage

How is culture related to organizational effectiveness?

At Calibra, we've worked with numerous organizations in the midst of change. No matter the change, no matter the company, there is one constant that largely determines success or failure – it is the role and importance of organizational culture. Culture contributes to competitive advantage when these three characteristics are present:

  • It is unique
  • It is strategically appropriate
  • It is difficult to replicate

A strong culture is one in which: beliefs and values are widely shared; and, beliefs and values are strongly held.

Examine company culture before implementing change.

A Calibra-managed culture study can help your company uncover "gaps" between the current culture and the cultural characteristics needed to support your business strategy. Based on this understanding, an appropriate approach to culture change can be implemented.

Culture studies generate data that inform change strategy.

While many organizations have conducted employee opinion surveys, they haven't conducted culture studies. The chart below show how culture studies differ from employee opinion surveys on a variety of dimensions including: purpose, use, and items measured.

  Culture Study Opinion Survey
  • To provide a description of the organization along various dimensions as input to managerial decision making
  • Descriptive
  • To assess the quality or adequacy of organizational policies, practices, procedures, and routines
  • Evaluative
Use of Findings
  • Inform strategy—do the organizational characteristics fit the business strategy?
  • Improve practice—How can we make our operations more effective?
Focus of Study
  • Attributes or characteristics
  • Drivers of behavior
  • Deeply rooted beliefs, values and norms
  • Underlying variables
  • Individual attitudes and satisfaction
  • Perceptions of organizational practices
  • Surface variables
Type of Data
  • Patterns, connections, fit between data
  • Where the organization is on a continuum (e.g., conservative/innovative, responsive/slow)
  • Levels of variables, ratings
  • The effectiveness of communication (excellent/poor); satisfaction with pay (satisfied/dissatisfied)
Typical Items Measured
  • Autonomy
  • Task-orientation
  • Openness to change
  • Diversity
  • Innovation
  • Social relations
  • Organizational controls
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Managerial behavior
  • Pay/benefits
  • Goal clarity
  • Career opportunities
  • Participation


Contact us

2810 Crossroads Drive, Suite 4000
Madison, WI 53718
Phone: 608-442-1121
Fax: 608-819-3801

Value of Knowing Organizational Culture

We believe that a culture study should provide more than descriptive data. Certainly the assessment should enable us to define the culture and the current behaviors that characterize the organization. However the value of knowing the organization’s culture is in:

  • Identifying the gap between current behaviors and desired behaviors, between espoused values and values in use.
  • Understanding the underlying assumptions and beliefs that drive current behaviors.
  • Determining and implementing appropriate strategies for shaping the underlying assumptions and closing any gaps.

Understanding how the organization is or is not, making use of cultural elements serves multiple purposes. It gives an indication of the strength of culture; it shows predominant ways that culture is transmitted and reinforced; and, it highlights opportunities for managing culture.

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