Types of organizational culture

From CEOpedia | Management online

Companies develop culture as they evolve and this culture is often influenced by the location and society in which the company is located. In recent times the difference in organizational culture is narrowing mainly because of technology. Widely observed organizational cultures are[1]:

  1. Clan Culture - It is a family-like or tribe-like type of corporate environment that emphasizes consensus and commonality of goals and values. They are the most collaborative and the least competitive of the four models.
  2. Adhocracy culture - It is a flexible, adaptable and informal form of organization that is defined by a lack of formal structure. It operates in an opposite fashion to a bureaucracy.
  3. Market Culture - It is a type of corporate culture that emphasizes competitiveness not only between the organization and its market competitors but also between employees. The market model is the most aggressive and capitalistic of the four.
  4. Hierarchy Culture - It is an organizational model based on clearly defined corporate levels and structures. In this items are ranked according to their levels of importance.

What is organizational culture?

Organizational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, customs, practices, and social behaviors of an organization. It is the underlying characteristics that shape the way people think, feel, and behave within an organization. Organizational culture encompasses a wide range of elements, including:

  • Values: The fundamental beliefs and principles that guide an organization's actions and decision-making.
  • Norms: The unwritten rules and expectations that govern behavior within an organization.
  • Symbols: The visual and tangible elements that represent an organization's culture, such as logos, uniforms, and office design.
  • Language: The words, phrases, and jargon that are used within an organization to communicate and convey meaning.
  • Assumptions: The underlying assumptions and beliefs that shape the way people think and behave within an organization.
  • Rituals: The practices and ceremonies that are repeated regularly and serve to reinforce the culture of an organization.
  • Heroes: The individuals or groups that are held up as examples of the organization's culture and values.
  • Stories: The narratives that are told within an organization to convey its history, values, and culture.

Organizational culture is important because it shapes the way people think, feel, and behave within an organization, and it can have a significant impact on an organization's performance, productivity, and overall success. A strong, positive culture can lead to improved employee engagement, increased innovation, and better decision-making, while a weak or negative culture can lead to low morale, high turnover, and poor performance.

Examples of organizational culture

  • Entrepreneurial: This type of culture is often seen in startups or small businesses where the employees are given a lot of freedom and autonomy in their work. They are encouraged to take risks and think outside of the box. This culture fosters innovation, creativity, and collaboration. A real-life example of an entrepreneurial culture is Google.
  • Collaborative: This type of culture encourages collaboration between employees to achieve a common goal. Employees are given the freedom to share ideas, voice opinions, and work together to solve problems. A real-life example of a collaborative culture is Apple.
  • Autocratic: This type of culture is characterized by a top-down approach where decisions are made by a single individual or small group. This type of culture is often found in large organizations that have a hierarchical structure. Employees are expected to follow orders and are not usually encouraged to voice their opinions. A real-life example of an autocratic culture is Walmart.
  • Performance Driven: This type of culture focuses on results and performance. Employees are often given clear goals and measurable objectives. Performance is typically based on a reward system, and employees are encouraged to strive for excellence. A real-life example of a performance driven culture is Amazon.
  • Hierarchical Culture - This type of culture is characterized by a clear chain of command and a strong focus on job roles. It can help to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently, or that work is distributed fairly.
  • Innovative Culture - This type of culture encourages out of the box thinking and encourages employees to think creatively and take risks. It can help to make employees more productive and innovative.
  • Open Culture - This type of culture is characterized by open communication and feedback. It can help to foster trust and create a more positive workplace environment.
  • Results-Oriented Culture - This type of culture emphasizes the importance of achieving results and encourages employees to work towards specific goals. It can help to ensure that tasks are completed on time and with a high level of quality.
  • Diverse Culture - This type of culture emphasizes the value of diversity and inclusion. It can help to create a more accepting workplace environment and encourage different perspectives.
  • Clan Culture: This type of culture is based on the idea of a family, where members are expected to help each other, look out for each other, and share a sense of commitment and loyalty.
  • Adhocracy Culture: This type of culture is focused on creativity and innovation. It encourages employees to be risk-takers and encourages taking calculated risks to achieve results.
  • Market Culture: This type of culture is focused on competitive advantage and achieving results through high performance. It encourages employees to be competitive and to strive for success.

Types of organizational culturerecommended articles
Cultures and organizationsAdhocracyDeterminants of cultureLeadership and organizational cultureElements of organizational cultureImpact of cultureEspoused valuesOrganizational cultureLeadership models


  1. "Types of organisational culture" (1999) by Maurice B. Line, published by: MCB UP Ltd.