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Business Transformation and Organizational Culture:: The Role of Competency, IS and TQM

Listed author(s):
  • Philip, George
  • McKeown, Ian
Registered author(s):

    The broad aim of this paper is to examine the contribution which anthropology can make in the study of organizational culture and more specifically, in examining the relationship between culture and business transformation. In the 1970s, Mary Douglas, the world renowned British anthropologist, put forward the cultural theory of grid and group (G/G) which identified four distinct cultural typologies to define the position of an individual within a society. This model, which was developed originally to make a study of the social anthropology of religion among primitive African tribes, has more recently been used variously to describe many aspects of culture; however much less effort has been put into relating it to business organizations and in particular examining the role of organizational culture in business transformation. This is surprising given that cultural concepts have their roots in social anthropology. Since business transformation is primarily about fundamental changes in organizational culture, the purpose of this article is to argue that Douglas's theory provides an effective framework for analyzing and understanding the cultural changes which are necessary for successful organizational transformation. This is demonstrated by applying it to a major case study of an engineering/aerospace company in the UK. The cultural changes have been brought about through a range of strategies such as the development of managerial and organizational competencies, information systems, and quality management practices. It is a significant case study in that the organization has undergone radical transformation and secondly the transformation has been highly successful. An attempt is also made to compare the G/G model with other models including an examination of the wider applications of the model in the practice of management. The limitations and pitfalls of applying a cultural typology approach to organizational analysis are also briefly considered.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Management Journal.

    Volume (Year): 22 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 6 (December)
    Pages: 624-636

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:eurman:v:22:y:2004:i:6:p:624-636
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