Culture change in the knowledge economy: It starts at the top
There are tangible steps to creating a good company culture - just ask Mostafa Sayyadi.
Success in today’s knowledge economy can be more effective when executives can manifest themselves as change agents who reshape, and in some cases, manipulate corporate culture to better apply knowledge and create competitive advantage.
Building on the three aspects of corporate culture (collaboration, trust and learning), companies can attempt to continuously innovate and create new and valuable services or products through applying new ideas and knowledge.
This article also aims to inspire executives to create an effective culture change to meet and exceed the challenges of not only today but also what we see as an onset of new advances in the future. The practices mentioned in this article can represent a complete answer to need for culture change in today’s knowledge economy.
What corporate culture is
Scholars that are well known in the Academy of Management, one of the largest leadership and management organisations in the world describe organisational culture as a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learns as it solves its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.
Collaboration provides a shared understanding about the current issues and problems among employees, which helps to generate new ideas within organisations.
In fact, corporate culture is reflected in shared assumptions, symbols, beliefs, values and norms that specify how employees understand problems and appropriately react to them.
Executives can build an effective corporate culture to improve customer satisfaction through acquiring additional knowledge from customers, developing better relationships with them, and providing a higher quality of service for them.
How corporate culture works
These three cultural aspects play a critical role in improving innovation and enhancing the effectiveness of organisational knowledge management. For example, collaboration provides a shared understanding about the current issues and problems among employees, which helps to generate new ideas within organisations.
Trust towards their leader’s decisions is also a necessary precursor to create new knowledge. Moreover, the amount of time spent learning is positively related with the amount of knowledge gained, shared, and implemented.
Executives can facilitate collaboration by developing relationships in organisations. An executive can contribute to the cultural aspect of trust, through considering both employees' individual interests and company’s essential needs.
Also, executives can identify individual needs of employees and develop a learning culture to generate new knowledge and share it with others.
How to do it right
To build a collaboration culture, executives need to improve the degree to which employees actively support and provide significant contributions to each other in their work. In doing this, they can develop a collaborative work climate in which:
- Employees are satisfied by the degree of collaboration between departments.
- Employees are supportive.
- Employees are helpful.
- There is a willingness to accept responsibility for failure.
To create a trust culture, executives need to maintain the volume of reciprocal faith in terms of behaviours and intentions. In doing this, they can build an atmosphere of trust and openness in which:
- Employees are generally trustworthy.
- Employees have reciprocal faith in other members' intentions and behaviours.
- Employees have reciprocal faith in others' ability.
- Employees have reciprocal faith in others' behaviours to work toward organisational goals.
- Employees have reciprocal faith in others' decision towards organisational interests than individual interests.
- Employees have relationships based on reciprocal faith.
To foster a learning culture, executives need to enhance the extent to which learning is motivated within the workplace. In doing this, they can contribute to the development of a learning workplace in which:
- Various formal training programs are provided to improve the performance of duties.
- Opportunities are provided for informal individual development other than formal training such as work assignments and job rotation.
- There is an encouragement to attend external seminars, symposia, etc.
- Various social mechanisms such as clubs and community gatherings are provided.
- Employees are satisfied by the contents of job training or self-development programs.
Organisational leadership is vital in reshaping a firm’s culture. This article suggests that corporate culture constitutes the foundation of a supportive workplace to improve business success. Standing on the shoulders of scholars before us, I think corporate culture is a major internal resource for business success in today’s knowledge economy.
Without a grasp of this, executives are bound to fail.
About the author
Mostafa Sayyadi is a business and technology journalist.
- Schein, E 1984 'Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture', Sloan Management Review, vol. 25, no. 2. pp. 37-50.
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