Culture theory – Schein

According to organizational psychologist Edgar Schein, the first leaders of a company play a significant role in creating the company’s culture. These leaders establish the values, beliefs, and behaviors that will become the foundation of the company’s culture. Future leaders are then selected based on their alignment with and support of this original culture. This creates a strong link between culture and leadership, and makes it difficult to change the culture of an organization once it has been established.

Schein also believed that it is essential for leaders to understand the culture of the organization in order to effectively lead. He argued that there are three levels of culture that need to be considered:

  1. Artefacts: These are the visible aspects of culture that can be easily seen, such as the way that people dress, the layout of the office, and the way that meetings are conducted.
  2. Espoused values: These are the strategies and goals of the organization, including company slogans, mission statements, and values.
  3. Basic assumptions and values: These are the underlying beliefs and values that exist at the unconscious level and shape the way that the organization operates. These assumptions and values are often difficult to identify and are the foundation of the organization’s culture.

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