How does the corporate culture affect entrepreneurship

Contribution of corporate culture to corporate success

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

List of abbreviations

I. Introductory part
1. Problem definition
1.1 globalization
1.2 Demographic development
1.3 Change in values
1.4 Technical development
2. Objective and structure of the work
3. Beginnings of corporate culture research

II. Theoretical foundations
1. Definitions
1.1 culture
1.1.1 Problem of a uniform definition
1.1.2 The Hofstede culture model Individuality / collectivity Inequality of power Avoiding uncertainty Masculinity / Femininity
1.2 Company and Organization
1.2.1 The organization The organizational term according to Bea and Göbel Organizations as social systems
1.2.2 The company
1.2.3 Integrative definition for further work
1.3 Success
1.4 corporate culture
1.4.1 Definition of corporate culture
2. Corporate culture models
2.1 The three-level model according to Schein
2.1.1 Artifacts
2.1.2 Publicly propagated values
2.1.3 Basic, unspoken assumptions
2.2 The culture model according to Kotter and Heskett
2.3 Process model of corporate culture according to Hatch
2.4 The cultural iceberg model according to Sackmann
2.4.1 Visible manifestations
2.4.2 Basic Beliefs
3 functions of corporate culture
3.1 Reduction of complexity
3.2 Coordinated action
3.3 Motivation
3.3.1 VIE theory
3.3.2 The two-factor theory
3.4 Commitment and identification
3.4.1 Commitment
3.4.2 Identification
3.5 continuity

III. Capturing the corporate culture
1 directions of corporate culture research
1.1 The functional-objectivist perspective
1.2 The interpretive-subjectivist perspective
1.3 The integrative perspective
1.4 Comparison of the research approaches
2. Methods for collecting data on corporate culture
2.1 Document analysis
2.2 Company tours
2.3 Meeting Observations
2.4 questionnaires
2.5 Individual interviews
2.6 Group discussions

IV. Empirical studies on the relationship between corporate culture and success
1. A qualitative study in the USA
1.1 Methodical approach
1.2 Results
1.2.1 Primacy of action
1.2.2 Proximity to the customer
1.2.3 Freedom for entrepreneurship
1.2.4 Productivity through people
1.2.5 Visibly lived value system
1.2.6 Loyalty to the traditional business
1.2.7 Simple and flexible structure
1.2.8 Tight-loose leadership
2. A long-term study of American companies
2.1 The first survey
2.2 The second survey
3. First representative study in Germany
3.1 Methodical approach
3.1.1 Sample
3.1.2 Survey instruments Employee surveys Management surveys
3.1.3 Analysis methods
3.2 Results
3.2.1 Commitment
3.2.2 Corporate culture
3.2.3 Relationship between corporate culture, commitment and success
4. A multi-method study of European companies
4.1 Methodical approach
4.1.1 Assessment criteria
4.1.2 Sample
4.2 Results
4.2.1 Joint achievement of goals
4.2.2 Customer orientation
4.2.3 Innovation, learning and development orientation
4.2.4 Leadership culture
4.2.4 Entrepreneurship
4.2.5 Shareholder orientation
4.2.6 Basic beliefs, values ​​and attitudes
5. Preliminary conclusion and further considerations
5.1 Customer orientation
5.2 Employee orientation
5.3 Adaptability
5.4 Entrepreneurship
5.5 Leadership culture

V. Final part
1. Integrative corporate culture model
2. Critical discussion and outlook



List of figures

Figure 1 Study of Mergers & Acquisitions Transactions

Figure 2 The 7-S model

Figure 3 The three levels of corporate culture according to Schein

Figure 4 The corporate culture model according to Kotter and Heskett

Figure 5 The process model of the corporate culture according to Hatch

Figure 6 The iceberg model of corporate culture

Figure 7 Continuum of organizational symbols

Figure 8 Herzberg's two-factor theory

Figure 9 The three main directions of corporate culture research

Figure 10 Classification of culture in the objectivist paradigm

Figure 11 Classification of culture in the subjectivist paradigm

Figure 12 Survey methods for corporate culture

Figure 13 Areas of a session observation

Figure 14 Correlation of cultural strength and growth in market value

Figure 15 Working model of the study

Figure 16 Engagement of all respondents

Figure 17 Culture dimensions

Figure 18 Correlation between employee engagement and corporate success

Figure 19 Relationship between the cultural dimensions and employee engagement

Figure 20 Main criteria of corporate culture and leadership behavior

Figure 21 Effects of personal participation

Figure 22 Integrative model of corporate culture impact

List of tables

Table 1 Culture dimensions according to Hofstede

Table 2 Key financial figures for corporate success

Table 3 Value matrix

Table 4 An overview of the three research approaches

Table 5 Branch distribution of the sample

Table 6 The economic and social costs of underperforming cultures

Table 7 Realized sample

List of abbreviations

Figure not included in this excerpt

I. Introductory part

1. Problem definition

“Corporate culture is becoming more important for economic success”, was the title of an article published on February 4, 2010 by the management consultancy Kienbaum (Kienbaum, 2010).

The increasing pressure of innovation, competition and costs requires companies to make effective and efficient use of all available performance potential and resources. In this context, the topic of corporate culture is moving more and more into the focus of economic and societal interests.

In the following sections, problems are presented which make current and future engagement with corporate culture inevitable. The aim is to the reader[1] It should be suggested why the topic of corporate culture is such an important and controversial topic, and it should be shown that the problems listed can not only be overcome through targeted interventions, but can even be converted into competitive opportunities.

1.1 globalization

One of the economic factors is the increasing globalization of the markets, which plays a central role. As a result, new competitors have developed on the market, which has increased international competition. The corporate culture has become a relevant competitive factor that cannot be imitated. Due to the increasing pressure, many companies entered into alliances or merged with companies from their branch. Culture plays a not insignificant role in such mergers, as has often been shown in the past. Numerous mergers have failed precisely because of their different cultures, which came together in the PostMerger integration (Sackmann, 2002). Just think of the recent "marriages" of the automobile manufacturers Daimler and Chrysler or BMW and Rover, where the mergers resulted in values ​​in the billions[2] were destroyed (BusinessWissen, 2009).

According to expert estimates, 70% of all mergers fail due to the incompatibility of cultures, as this, in contrast to the hard factors, is not always included in the integration processes (Schuster, 2006). A study published in 2009 by the management consultancy Hay Group found that almost two thirds of companies worldwide did not deal with the "soft factors" prior to the transaction.[2] but plan to do so in the future, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 1 Study on Mergers & Acquisitions Transactions (Hay Group, 2009)

Around 70% of the companies that had previously dealt with the soft factors assessed their transaction as “extremely successful”, whereas only 30% of those who did not deal with it stated that they were “satisfied” with it (Hay Group, 2009).[2][3]

In addition, these rapid changes in organizations lead to growing problems in the areas of identification and commitment. Employees are becoming increasingly unsettled by the constant changes in the tasks, structures and names of the companies. The mergers lead to rationalization with layoffs, social benefits are cut and employment relationships are shifting in favor of temporary employment by temporary employment agencies. The flat hierarchies gave employees more autonomy, which at the same time led to a loss of control on the part of managers (Schuler & Sonntag, 2007). Identification and commitment are valuable competitive factors that can be influenced by intervening in the corporate culture.

1.2 Demographic development

According to statistics (Welt, 2008), the trend that emerged in the 1990s is confirmed: On the one hand, better care options and medical advances lead to an ever increasing age, on the other hand - due to the simultaneous decline in birth rates - our society is aging increasingly.

If one believes the calculations of the European statistical office Eurostat, the ratio of pensioners to employed persons will more than double by 2060. Germany will therefore be most affected by this problem. According to Eurostat, the ratio in 2060 is 5.5% above the EU average of 53.5 to 100. During this period, the population will also shrink from around 82 to almost 71 million inhabitants.

These effects will have a strong impact on the world of work in the years to come. This development will increasingly heat up the competition for qualified workers and it underlines the necessity of a functional corporate culture. Due to the changes, the job market will be relieved from the supply side, but this will mean a widespread shortage of skilled workers. The economy and society will face new problems, especially when it comes to the financing of our social security system, and on the corporate side, the qualification mismatches in recruiting will increase significantly.

1.3 Change in values

In addition, socio-cultural factors also play a role. Values ​​are i. d. Usually passed on from one generation to the next through the socialization process. The economic prosperity, the political stability and the high level of education became apparent in that in western industrialized countries, above all, post-material values, such as self-development and autonomy, gained in importance (Koch, 2005; quoted in Wiswede, 2007, p. 138). This change in value should be explained from various extreme positions.

On the one hand, there is the thesis of the collapse of values, according to which the values ​​of the church, religion and work fluctuate and private life is revalued (Wiswede, 2007, p. 188). A hedonistic consumer behavior and a leisure-oriented attitude can be observed.

The thesis of value substitution says that the previous materialistic values ​​give way to post-materialistic place. On the one hand, this is based on the principle of saturation, according to which scarce things are given a higher priority. This hypothesis shows parallels to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, since here too needs of a lower order have priority. On the other hand, the phenomenon can be justified by the socialization hypothesis. This hypothesis states that the values ​​that were predominant in the formative phase of an individual have a formative influence (Wiswede, 2007). After that, for example, a war that takes place during the socialization process leads to existential deficiencies in people. It follows that this group of people will tend towards more materialistic values. For those who grow up in prosperity and peace, on the other hand, security and care are a matter of course (Dierkes, Rosenstiel & Steger, 1992, p. 11).

The change in values ​​should not only be taken into account with customers, but also with potential employees on the job market. On the employee side, values ​​influence the expectations of the workplace, management in the company, the organization of work and working hours. In addition to remuneration, the work environment is an important factor that must be shaped by the corporate culture.

Generation Y is also making new design requirements for corporate culture[4], which is considered to be the next generation of baby boomers and Generation X. Generation Y includes those members of the world population who were born between 1980 and 2000, and they are currently entering important key positions in companies. This generation strives for independence and flexibility as well as a well-balanced, individually tailored work-life balance. The members are characterized by a high affinity for technical innovations, are considered optimistic, self-confident, curious and “google” their knowledge gaps before they ask their boss for advice. The talented among them are highly networked within the company and also externally. Internet platforms such as Xing, Facebook or Job Options support this development. Communication in networks is developing into a new lifestyle and networking becomes a feature of status in the company. In the future, employees' careers will run as a chain of projects that take place in different companies. Thus the involvement in the task will come into the focus of the employee - to the disadvantage of the commitment to the organization (Weinert, 2004). Massive conflicts and frictional losses can arise if the individual needs, values ​​and interests of this generation do not match the existing corporate culture.

1.4 Technical development

The first industrial revolution enabled the transition from purely manual work to machine production. With the invention of the steam engine by James Watt in 1776, labor productivity could be increased many times over. The inventions of this time came from practitioners who acquired their theoretical knowledge in self-study. Academic science lagged behind this rapid development, so that, for example, engineering did not emerge until the beginning of the 20th century (Warnecke, 1996, pp. 28 ff.).

The second industrial revolution was marked by the invention of the internal combustion engine and the dynamo. This made it possible to increase productivity in every possible workplace. The automated mass production created completely new demands on the employees at the time. Despite the increasing prosperity of the national economies, there were fears that automation would turn humans into “cogs” in the almighty machine. Another downside of this development was that ecological resources were threatened for the first time (ibid.). The second industrial revolution thus made a major contribution to shaping today's corporate cultures. It was only through the destruction and exhaustion of the environment that entrepreneurs became aware of values ​​such as social and ecological responsibility and propagated these values ​​publicly in their culture.

The success of companies today is largely based on creativity, innovation and flexibility (ibid.). This predominantly human potential is expressed in the culture of a company and, through intelligent combination with the production factors of the third (digital) industrial revolution, can make a decisive contribution to the success of a company.

2. Objective and structure of the work

The present work is dedicated to the investigation of the connection between the soft factors of corporate culture and the success of companies. The considerations are not based on an independent empirical survey. The work is based on the exemplary presentation of existing studies, on experiences and excerpts from the existing literature.

Since the corporate culture is not a purely psychological phenomenon, an interdisciplinary consideration is required. As a result, knowledge from related disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and business administration are included to explain the cultural conditions in order to gain a holistic understanding of the interrelationships and mechanisms of action of the elements of culture in companies.

Based on the problems outlined above, central questions can be derived, the answers of which are the aim of this work:

- What exactly is corporate culture?
- Which methods are available for recording the corporate culture?
- Does the corporate culture affect the company's success?
- If so, which dimensions of the culture have a positive influence on the success of companies?

Chapter II provides a detailed introduction to the topic of corporate culture by explaining the terms culture and company independently of one another.In order to get a concrete idea of ​​the construct, four models are then presented that reduce the complexity of the construct to a multi-level, manageable concept. Furthermore, the original functions of corporate culture are discussed, which significantly influence the derivative function of corporate success.

Chapter III presents three research approaches that have emerged in the course of studying culture in companies. In order to make the culture survey as transparent as possible, methods for data collection are also presented in Chapter III.

Chapter IV presents four existing studies that deal with the relationship between corporate culture and corporate success. For each study, in addition to the results, the methodological procedure is explained using the sample and the instrument. Finally, this chapter takes a closer look at those dimensions of culture which, according to the studies, have emerged as being conducive to success.

Chapter V forms the final consideration, in which the findings are compiled into a new model and the results are critically assessed. From this critical consideration of the topic of corporate culture, suggestions for future procedures in science and business are derived.

3. Beginnings of corporate culture research

The concept of culture appeared for the first time in an organizational context in the publication “The Functions of the Executive” by Chester Barnard in 1938, but it was not discussed in detail and systematically explored until the early 1980s (Sackmann, 2002, p. 3). The trigger for this was the changed competitive conditions in the leading industrial nations. The Japanese industry increasingly developed into an economic power of the first order[5] and America took its traditional domination of the world and American domestic markets (Heinen, 1997, p. 4).

Then American scientists tried to find an answer to the question why “the Japanese know how to manage better than we do” (Ouchi 1982, p. 3). Initially, the interest was particularly directed towards the Japanese management, after the analysis of success and cost structures could no longer be used as the sole reason for the unusual success. It was hoped that research on Japan would provide evidence of mismanagement in American companies, with the aim of being able to adopt the knowledge gained. This management research by Japanese companies ultimately led to the cultural components as the factors underlying success (ibid.).

As part of their field research, Pascal and Athos (1981) described their results in their book "The Art of Japanese Management", which served as the basis for comparing Japanese and American companies with regard to their success factors. They came to the conclusion that in addition to strategy and structure, overarching values ​​also play a central role in Japanese companies. They supported their hypothesis with the 7-S model shown in Figure 2, which emphasizes the formative effect of national culture on corporate culture (Pascal & Athos, 1981; quoted from Heinen & Frank, 1997, p. 5 f.).

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 2 The 7-S model (Peter & Waterman, 2004, p. 32)

Their work showed that in order to deal intensively with the problems in American companies, at least these seven variables must be taken into account and viewed in relation to one another. Whereas up to now only the “hard” factors have primarily been paid attention to, the 7-S model, on the other hand, postulates the equal ranking of “hard” and “soft” factors as instruments for shaping the company's success. According to Pascal and Athos (1981), the “soft” factors that were typical of a Japanese system include the overarching goals, personnel, skills and style (Pascal & Athos, 1981; quoted from Holleis, 1987, p. 175 ff. ). The corporate culture was given its own priority as an internal variable as part of the model development.

Following on from this, Ouchi tried to discover differences between American and Japanese companies in his cross-cultural management research. He viewed the culture of a company as a miniature society that is embedded in the ethnological culture of the country, and to which great importance was assigned as an exogenous variable (Beyer, Fehr & Nutzinger, 1995, p. 54). He differentiates between Japanese companies, which he calls type J organizations, and typical American companies, which he calls type A organizations. Ouchi classifies other companies, which he describes as American versions of the prototype of Japanese organizations, in the "Type Z organization" category. This category of companies is characterized by a strong culture and shows a specific combination of characteristics in the following listed characteristics (Heinen & Frank, 1997):

- duration of employment
- type of decision making
- responsibility
- Assessment and promotion cycles
- Forms of behavior management and control
- Interpersonal relationships

In a Type Z organization, no areas are left untouched by culture. Each individual employee identifies himself with his company and thus not only makes a positive contribution to the success of the company through increased work quality and willingness, but also experiences positive effects for himself through increased self-esteem (Raab, 1989, p. 14 ff. ).

All these studies and a number of others (Peter & Waterman, 1982; Keller, 1982; Deal & Kennedy, 1982) already led to the result at that time that cultural factors influence success.

II. Theoretical foundations

1. Definitions

1.1 culture

1.1.1 Problem of a uniform definition

Before the concept of corporate culture is discussed in this chapter, the concept of culture should first be explained. The various scientific disciplines of today provide each other with partially complementary, but also contradicting, definitions of the term. As early as 1952, there were more than 170 different definitions for the term culture, which came from the anthropologists Kröber and Kluckhohn alone, whereby the authors limited themselves primarily to concepts of Anglo-American cultural anthropology (Heinen & Frank, 1997). Hauser is of the opinion that the term culture "eludes a precise definition" and categorizes it as a "search term" (Hauser, 2003, p. 24 f.)

The term has its origins in Latin and is derived from the word cultura, which originally did not mean "creative", but was understood in the sense of care - related to agriculture. The Romans were the first to speak of “cultura animi”, the cultivation of the spirit. The term culture was used synonymously for ethically and morally justifiable customs. Only in the age of the Enlightenment did the single term culture find its own meaning. It is contrasted with the concept of the barbaric state and separates humans from animals (Heinen & Frank, 1997). The cultural man celebrates his actions and actions, such as a meal, whereas the barbarian may devour his food (Prott, 2004, p. 15). This conception of a “human culture” became the forerunner of modern cultural anthropology, in which culture was increasingly equated with civilization. The opposite term to this is nature, i.e. everything that was not created by humans on their own initiative.

According to Horst Reimann, culture is the “totality of the perception and ideas of individuals about the real world based on their own and those who represent others with it” (Reinmann, 1986; quoted from Prott, 2004, p. 15). According to this definition, the concept of the environment is an experience-based construct, although no direct statements have yet been made about the active actions of those involved.

"Culture is the entire spiritual, moral, artistic, linguistic inheritance of a human community, the accumulated experience of what is and of what should be, which is passed on from generation to generation (with changes)" (Seger, 1974; quoted according to Prott, 2004, p. 15). This definition comes very close to the general understanding of culture in cultural sociology. It is expressed that this is a group phenomenon that persists over generations, but does not exclude the dynamics of the construct. Seger does not yet make any statements about material conditioning factors, but restricts himself to the construction of the meaning of a society and thus refers to the immaterial sphere of the concept of culture.

Kluckhohn and Kelly (1972) distinguish between descriptive and explicative concepts of culture. Descriptive cultural concepts include the “accumulated treasures of human creation ... [,] books, paintings, buildings and the like, ... language, customs, systems and etiquette, ethics, religion and morals, everything that has been built up over the centuries [became] ”(Kluckhohn & Kelly, 1972; quoted from Heinen & Frank, 1997, p. 55). This list deals with immaterial as well as material artifacts, with everything that can be seen, felt or experienced directly. The explicative perspective deals with the beliefs, values, motives, attitudes and internalized behavioral norms that affect human behavior (Heinen & Frank, 1997).

From a psychological point of view, the culture of a society can be understood as a model of problem solving (Schmidt, 2008). The focus is on learning about cultural habits and behaviors. No individual could act socially without a certain cultural program, since it is only through cultural socialization that the construction and evaluation of reality models is given to him.

Cultural socialization can be recognized by a person who has gone through all three phases in a cultural area for a lifetime. This manifests itself in their entire personality, their habits, value patterns and traditions. As a social heritage, culture is passed on from one generation to the next and influences their perception and behavior (Weinert, 2004).

As has been shown, culture always represents a group characteristic. If a group has developed enough shared experiences over time, a culture emerges. Cultures exist in countries, in families or in organizations. The individual is therefore always a multicultural being who acts in different cultures and accordingly uses different cultural behaviors depending on the situation. In order to explain individual behavior, the cultural circumstances must therefore always be taken into account in addition to the question of personality (Schein, 2003).

1.1.2 The Hofstede culture model

Hofstede describes culture as the “collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede, 2006, p. 4). Culture is not inherited, but learned, whereby the sources of this mental programming lie in the social environment and not in the genetic makeup: Culture “consists of the unspoken assumptions that a group has learned in dealing with external tasks and in dealing with internal relationships “(Schein, 2003, p. 173).

In 1980, Hofstede collected data on values ​​and attitudes from 116,000 employees and executives from more than 50 countries of the IBM company during a comparative cultural research, whereby he found out that the national culture always had a significant influence on the actions in the company. Since the data was only collected in one company, the differences in the results could be directly assigned to the national cultures of the countries (Weinert, 2004). According to Hofstede's cultural theory, values ​​varied in four different cultural dimensions, which are briefly explained below. Table 1 shows a section of the countries examined with the results for each dimension.

Table 1 Culture dimensions according to Hofstede

Figure not included in this excerpt Individuality / collectivity

This dimension describes the relationship between the individual and his society as a whole. In some countries, individual goals were predominantly pursued, in others the goals of the group were the focus. This was also noticeable in the family structure, social relationships and dealings with one another. Individualistic societies limited themselves to caring for themselves and their closest family members. In collectivist-oriented countries, on the other hand, people were more oriented towards social norms than personal attitudes (ibid., 2004, p. 93). Inequality of power

The acceptance of an unequal distribution of power had a different threshold in the various countries. That is, there are differences between cultures in terms of tolerance. If there was a high threshold of tolerance, control and influence of the countries would be concentrated in the hands of a few. Authority and obedience prevail within these social systems. This is especially true of African, Asian and South American cultures (ibid.). Avoiding uncertainty

This dimension provides information about the extent to which behavioral rituals are emphasized, rules are adhered to and stable working relationships are strived for by the individuals. In addition, the extent to which the culture is willing to take risks is described, with tolerance and dogmatism also being factors in this dimension. Societies with high values ​​in the dimension avoid uncertain and ambiguous situations because they feel threatened by them (ibid.). Masculinity / Femininity

The masculine characteristics include, above all, competitive orientation, assertiveness and performance, while feminine values ​​such as B. Solidarity, quality of life and personal relationships (ibid.). In addition, high values ​​in masculinity also express the extent to which the gender of the individual determines his or her role in society.

1.2 Company and Organization

The terms company and organization are often incorrectly used synonymously in the literature. On closer inspection, this is not correct. The term organization is to be understood as an umbrella term. A company is only that certain subset of organizations that orient their actions profit-oriented on the market and thus operate in the social functional system of the economy.

1.2.1 The organization The organizational term according to Bea and Göbel

Bea and Göbel subdivide the term organization into three categories to describe it (Bea and Göbel, 2002):

- the activity-oriented
- the instrumental and
- the institutional concept of organization

According to the activity-oriented concept of organization, organization is an activity that creates order in a system. A certain group of “organizers” regulates for the other members of the organization who, when, where and which task has to be carried out in order to achieve a common goal. As the results from the Hawthorne studies show, in addition to the formal structure by the management, there is an informal structure that has arisen from the self-organization of the members (ibid., 2002, p. 2 f.). The relevance of these informal structures and their relationship to operational success will be discussed in later chapters.

According to the instrumental concept of organization, the organization is the control system of a company. This system of rules defines the design parameters of an organization in a binding manner. This includes specialization, i. H. Whether the organization appears in its appearance according to the performance (functional organization) or the object principle (division organization), the distribution of power (delegation) and the coordination of activities (coordination). The organization of a company thus serves as a means (instrument) to achieve goals (ibid., 2002, p. 248 ff.). If, for example, the instrumental term is transferred to Taylorist organization theory, then the organization of a company should ensure efficient and resource-saving fulfillment of tasks.

According to the institutional concept of organization, an organization is viewed as an institution. As already mentioned, in addition to the formal structure, an informal structure is formed in an organization. An institution is understood to mean the system of formal (form-bound) and informal (form-independent) rules as well as the precautions for their enforcement. An organization as an institution has the characteristic that it consists of people and that they are subject to certain rules of the game (formal / informal). The organization forms stable boundaries with its environment, which makes it clear who belongs to the organization and who does not. In addition, organizations are always created deliberately so that their members can pursue a common purpose (ibid., 2002). However, this common purpose does not necessarily have to be compatible with the individual goals of individual members, as will be shown later. Organizations as social systems

In order to complete the definition by Bea and Göbel, the organization is defined more precisely here from a systemic point of view. This is of particular importance for later listing the characteristics of successful companies.

In addition to the technical system of an organization, it always has a social system made up of people. Social systems are characterized by the following six characteristics (König & Volmer, 2008):

1) Social systems always consist of people. People are the central elements of a social system.
2) The people construct subjective interpretations of their environment. This phenomenon underlies constructivism, according to which everyone tries to understand the world, each doing it in different ways. The main focus of this approach is on the active efforts of humans to interpret their environment, each constructing their own reality (Friedmann & Schustack, 2004).
3) Just as nature is subject to its own laws, social systems are subject to rules that give social action the normative framework. Understanding a social system means knowing its rules. The difficulty here is not in recognizing the rules on the surface (e.g. behavioral guidelines, job descriptions), but in analyzing the informal rules between the members. "Informal rules express a kind of cultural surplus beyond the intended functioning of the organization [...]" (Prott, 2004, p. 21).
4) In social systems there are regularly recurring behavior patterns of the people. In certain situations, routine behaviors can promote the efficiency of the common corporate goals; However, if a dysfunctional behavior has become habitual, this can impair the further development of the system.
5) Social systems always operate in a system environment. In addition to the material environment, to which the workplace and the technical system of an organization belong, the social environment (external stakeholders) is also included. These include For example, politics, which exerts influence through rules and standards, the market, which has a say in what is done in the system through the offerings of competitors and customer demand, as well as suppliers or external consultants. The system itself can coordinate the effects of the system due to its operational cohesion.
6) Social systems continue to evolve. Organizations always have to adapt to the development of their respective environment. If the dynamics of the market are many times higher than that of the organizational culture, there is a risk of being displaced by competition in the social market economy. How important such a market orientation is can be seen in particularly successful companies that have a very customer-oriented culture.

1.2.2 The company

As already mentioned, all companies are a certain type of organization, which means that all these defining characteristics that relate to organizations also apply to companies. But what exactly defines a company as such?

The Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon describes a company[6], as "a structure organized under economic law, in which the aim is to achieve sustainable, profitable performance, depending on the type of company according to the principle of profit maximization" (company, 2010). The essential characteristic of private companies is that the behavior of the members is geared towards long-term profit maximization. It is about the existential condition of remaining viable. The private sector companies are in constant competition with their competitors who are interested in the same monetary goals[7] how they orient themselves (Benkert, Lenders & Vermeulen, 1995). Another characteristic of private companies is the principle of autonomy, i. H. that the company can determine its own economic activities within the framework of legal regulations.

The proportion of organizations that are not part of the company are the “non-profit organizations”. Their trade is based on social or societal goals and not on monetary values, but this does not exclude that this type of organization does not also act in a business-oriented manner. Striving to achieve a certain goal, be it of a monetary or social nature, requires business conduct that is based on the principle of the economic use of resources (Benkert, Lenders & Vermeulen, 1995, p. 21).

1.2.3 Integrative definition for further work

Derived from the previous definitions, a company in the present work is understood to be a social system with formal and informal rules, which has a certain structure (hierarchies, standardization, specialization) in which each member has a defined role. All groups and individuals pursue coordinated, common goals. The overriding goal of a company is to maximize profits in order to secure its survival in the market.

1.3 Success

There are different approaches to measuring success in companies. Seibert defines general success as a “positive result of purposeful action” (Seibert, 1987; quoted from Degener, 2004, p. 10). A rough distinction is made according to Nagel (1997) in social and economic success, whereby under social success he describes the improvement or maintenance of material and immaterial conditions of human work and under economic success monetary success (profit, turnover) and non-monetary success (quality the products, market share) (Nagel, 1997; quoted from Degener, 2004, p. 10). Frese expresses here that there is a hierarchical relationship between psychological (social) and objective (monetary) success, whereby the objective variables depend on the subjective variables (Frese, 1998; quoted from Degener, 2004, p. 10).

The Balanced Scorecard from Kaplan and Norton offers an approach to measuring and linking performance indicators. In doing so, the demands of various interest groups are linked. In the following, an excerpt of possible sizes is shown as an example (Degener, 2004):

1. Monetary Aspects
- Sales, profit development
- Financial and balance sheet figures
- Enterprise value
2. Employee indicators
- The amount of employee income
- Satisfaction with work
- motivation
- number of jobs
- Further training and qualification
3. Customer-related indicators
- customer satisfaction
- Improvement of the offer
- market share

From a system-theoretical perspective, success can also be seen as the long-term viability of the system, whereby not only the result, but also how it came about is considered.

Chapter III presents studies on the relationship between corporate culture and success. These studies operationalize success mainly in terms of monetary values, which is why Table 1 gives an overview of the key business figures that can be used for a better understanding of the studies.

Table 2 Key financial figures for corporate success

Figure not included in this excerpt

1.4 corporate culture

The previous definitions of culture and company have shown that the two terms come from two completely different disciplines. The interdisciplinary "hype" around the new concept of corporate culture was only created by combining them. If you try to define the concept of corporate culture, you will also find that there are almost as many definitions as there are authors on the topic. This means that no precise definition can be derived for the term. However, there are recurring aspects in the various approaches on which the authors seem to agree. The lack of precision of the term corporate culture actually contradicts its inflationary use.

The practitioners utter particularly absurd explanations of what is meant by corporate culture, such as: B. “The way we do things around here” or “The spirit and style of the house” (Sackmann, 2002, p. 25), but these statements are in essence already very accurate and give you a feeling for what you mean Has to understand corporate culture. But in order not to leave it at a mere feeling, the exact meaning of the term will be discussed below.

1.4.1 Definition of corporate culture

In order to get an overview of the variety of terms, definitions are given below by various authors without comment in chronological order in order to then work out common features of a uniform definition.

“We define organizational culture as the pattern of shared values ​​and beliefs that help members of an organization understand why things happen and thus teach them the behavioral norms in the organization” (Deshpande & Webste, 1989, p. 7).

Corporate culture is “the end product of a development [...]. It brings about an informal integration of past traditions and the present of the system in companies and thus creates the basis for future innovations: Experience that a company has gained in the past with successful and unsuccessful solutions to problems (cognitive dimension of culture) is incorporated into carry unwritten laws into the present; Added to this are values ​​and attitudes that shape the behavior of system members (affective dimension of culture) ”(Lay, 1992, p. 89).

Corporate culture is “a pattern of common basic premises that the group has learned in dealing with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, which has proven itself and is therefore considered binding; and that is therefore passed on to new members as a rational and emotionally correct approach to dealing with these problems ”(Schein, 1995, p. 25).

“Organizational culture, defined as the observable norms and values ​​that characterize an organization, influences which aspects of its operations and its members become salient and how members perceive and interact with one another, approach decisions and solve problems” (Chatman, Polzer, Barsade & Neale, 1998, p. 751).

Corporate culture is a "meaningful element that is important for its functioning. A corporate culture is determined by its symbols, language, ideology, beliefs, rituals and myths ”(Pullig, 2000, p. 9).

Corporate culture are “the fundamental beliefs held in common by a group that are typical of the group as a whole. They influence the perception, thinking, acting and feeling of the group members and could also manifest themselves in their actions and artifacts. The beliefs are no longer consciously held, they have arisen from the experience of the group and have developed further through the experience of the group, i. H. they are learned and are passed on to new group members ‘(Sackmann, 2002, p. 25).

This enumeration makes it clear that the researchers agree that the culture in the company is conveyed through learning processes. This takes place through tertiary socialization in the form of instrumental conditioning, whereby desirable behavior in the company is positively reinforced or supported in the form of model learning by employees who have already internalized the behavioral norms. The culture holds the company and the members together, provided that the employees accept the existing value system. In addition, terms such as values, beliefs, behavioral norms, attitudes and problem solving were strikingly common in the list, which is why they are examined in more detail below.


Values ​​generally represent the beliefs of individuals or groups about something that is considered desirable (Weinert, 2004, p. 169); Thus, according to Sackmann (2004), they influence perception, expectations and actions in the organization. They can be conscious or unconscious of the person (Sackmann, 2004). Values ​​can also be differentiated according to basic values ​​and instrumental values ​​(Prott, 2004), whereby basic values ​​represent the highest of all or the values ​​that cannot be questioned, such as freedom, justice and charity. Table 3 shows the prevailing values ​​in companies.

Table 3 Value matrix

Figure not included in this excerpt

Norms of behavior

Accordingly, values ​​are the ideal ideas accepted in the company in the sense of “dos and don'ts”, while the norms of a company indicate which values ​​are to be followed; they point to sanction mechanisms if they are not obeyed (ibid.).


Beliefs represent cognitive elements that can consist of facts, prejudices, rationalizations of actions, or basic assumptions. A belief system in corporate cultures is the totality of the assumptions of an individual with regard to his physical and social environment and his self-image. Beliefs can be classified into categories of type A to E, whereby type A beliefs are considered to be very stable. They serve as the basis from which other beliefs in corporate culture are derived (Krech, Crutchfield, Livson, Wilson & Parducci, 2006).


Attitudes are a form of particularly stable hypotheses of the individuals in the company and will determine the behavior the more often they are reinforced (Wiswede, 2007). According to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), attitudes are dispositions that have been acquired through learning and that consistently assess a certain object positively or negatively (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; quoted in Wiswede, 2007, p. 79). The behavior can only be derived indirectly from the values ​​already described. The assumption is made that attitudes are derived from the values, since these have an object-related character (Wiswede, 2007, p, 139). Thus, for example, the attitude to the company or to work can be traced back to an underlying value concept. According to Weinert (2004), attitudes consist of the following three components (Weinert, 2004, p. 176):

1. Cognitive component
2. Affective component
3. Behavioral component

The hiring concepts examined in companies include, for example, job satisfaction, involvement and commitment. With regard to the question of how attitudes influence work behavior, it could be shown that attitudes influence behavior taking moderating variables into account. Newer perspectives also confirm the assumption that previous behavior has an influence on attitudes. According to the theory of self-perception, people infer their attitudes from previous behavior. Then attitudes based on behavior that has already occurred are used to convey a meaning to the behavior (Weinert, 2004). This theory will be referred to later in order to be able to explain the success of companies.

Solve problem

The problem-solving process was also reflected in many definitions of corporate culture. A problem-solving strategy is understood to mean the deliberate and deliberate use of means to achieve goals (Wellmann, 1988; quoted from Oerterer & Montada, 2002, p. 471). Information processing is the basis of every problem-solving process. The culture clarifies the steps that have to be taken to achieve the goal and shows how the information is used when problems arise and which strategy is used to solve them. According to Gagne, problem solving represents the highest level of a learning process according to Gagne's various types of learning (Krapp & Weidenmann, 2006, p. 623).

In the following section, models are presented which are used to reduce the complexity of the latent phenomenon of corporate culture and to make various dimensions of culture more accessible. Among other things, the level of artifacts, which has been deliberately neglected up to now, is discussed.

2. Corporate culture models

2.1 The three-level model according to Schein

The representation of corporate culture on a multi-level scheme has a long tradition (Beyer et al., 1995). In Schein's view, corporate culture is not just a mere management tool, but through it the entire collective thinking and behavior of a company develops. In his opinion, culture is still not given enough consideration because it is underestimated. It is a negligent undertaking to limit oneself to culture only to the superficial shared similarities and to disregard the underlying assumptions (Schein, 2003, p. 13).

The three-level model conveys the actual complexity of the multidimensional construct of corporate culture. With this differentiation, Schein enables the knowledge of actually lived behavior and merely propagated convictions. The model consists of three culture elements that are theoretically separate from one another, but which in practice interact directly with one another. It is only permissible to a limited extent to refer to the corporate culture as “our way of working” or “the rites and rituals in our house”, since the artifacts only represent part of the corporate culture. However, these isolated manifestations must not be confused with the totality of the culture (ibid., 2003, p. 31).The three-level cultural model tries to derive this totality in a scientifically manageable theory.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 3 The three levels of corporate culture according to Schein (Schein, 2003)

2.1.1 Artifacts

The most noticeable level of corporate culture is that of observable artifacts. This level includes all the perceptible elements such as behaviors and objects - everything that you can hear, see and feel. This cultural level can be observed directly, but its meaning is difficult to decipher (ibid., 1992, p. 17).

The artefacts of a corporate culture include the rites and rituals, myths and stories, the jargon and slang, the corporate identity, the perceived atmosphere in a company, the building architecture and thus also the design of the offices and the clothing of the members.

Even at the level of the artifacts there are clear differences that can be seen in different companies. In some companies there are only open-plan offices, the doors are always open, employees are dressed casually, the relationships are personal and the hierarchies are difficult to perceive from the outside. In other companies, however, things are far more formal. The doors are always closed, there are individual offices that serve as status symbols, the employees are neatly dressed, there are only formal relationships and the conversations take place in hushed voices. The two companies just described each have their own way of presenting themselves, but this does not necessarily mean that they also have different cultures. So far, only one level of culture has been observed, but no reasons can be derived from this as to why employees behave this way and why the company is structured this way. This can only be clarified with questions to the members (ibid., 2003, p. 32).

2.1.2 Publicly propagated values

The second level represents the values ​​and norms of a corporate culture as they are propagated in the corporate principles, corporate philosophy, strategy and goals. They have arisen over time and are there to steer the behavior of employees in a given direction (Blöcher, 2004, p. 86 f.). "Those values ​​and opinions that are successfully accepted by the group members ('shared values ​​or beliefs') are converted into behavioral standards ('shared assumptions') via the process of cognitive transformation, insofar as they represent effective solutions" (Lang, 2008, P. 17).

These values, as they are lived by the employees, provide information about the “why”: Why do the members behave this way or why do the office areas have this structure? For example, properly dressed employees can indicate a strongly customer-oriented culture and open-plan offices can point to the promotion of teamwork as a core value of a company.

All these values, as they are lived in companies, have proven to be useful at some point in the past for the respective company founder. They are understood as problem solutions. They are no longer part of natural reality like artifacts, but are understood as a “sense” of what behavior is appropriate (Gontard, 2002, p. 27). Values ​​have a decisive influence on the relationship between employees and managers, on decision-making strategies, on groups, on the organizational level and on the reward systems (Weinert, 2004, p. 170).

It turns out that two companies, as already described for the artifacts and which could not be more different in their appearance, can nevertheless represent the same values. It has also become clear that those companies that propagate values ​​such as customer orientation, product quality and teamwork can nonetheless show contradicting behavior in their actual actions. This shows that behavior is controlled from a deeper level than that of the propagated values ​​(Schein, 2003, p. 34).

2.1.3 Basic, unspoken assumptions

The basic assumptions represent a kind of cultural paradigm of the company (Prott, 2004, p. 27). To understand these basic assumptions, one needs to look at a company's history. You have to look for the values, assumptions and convictions with which the founder or the manager was successful in the company's history. These success factors conveyed to the employees are taken for granted and are therefore hardly discussed anymore, as they are already firmly anchored unconsciously and are also very difficult to ascertain (Simon, 1989, p. 26).

If companies continue to develop products and services based on the assumptions made by the founders that can be sold on the market, these become unspoken assumptions about the success of a company. “The values, beliefs and assumptions that we have learned together and that are taken for granted if the company continues to be successful are the essence of the corporate culture. One must not forget that they are the result of a common learning process ”(Schein, 2003, p. 35).

This level model shows that the corporate culture is a complex multi-level construct that has to be analyzed on several levels in order to fully grasp and understand it. In addition, the model expresses the stability of a culture. Simply changing the visible elements at the top level of the artifacts does not affect the basic assumptions of the members. Companies must be aware of the degree of conformity between the values ​​actually practiced and the values ​​propagated by employees. Hidden discrepancies easily lead to a loss of credibility with regard to the corporate philosophy and its authenticity.

2.2 The culture model according to Kotter and Heskett

The definition that the two authors use for corporate culture largely agrees with that of Schein. They have developed a model that differentiates the culture of a company on two levels, which differ in their visibility and their consistency with respect to changes (see Figure 4) (Kotter & Heskett, 1993, p. 12).

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 4 The corporate culture model according to Kotter and Heskett (Kotter & Hekett, 1992)

In this model, although the common values ​​are visually in the model at the top, they are just as invisible as in the previous model by Schein. These two researchers also speak of culture in the company as a group phenomenon that remains constant over time regardless of the fluctuation of employees. These values ​​determine the common goals and orientations of the ideas about what is considered important. The model directly incorporates the changeability component. As mentioned by previous authors, values ​​are therefore very difficult to change because they hold the members of the culture together and are not aware of them (ibid., 1993, p. 12); they are deeply anchored in the culture and are not visible.

On the visible level there are the rules of conduct that are automatically adopted by new employees in the form of model learning or positive reinforcement. These socialized norms are very difficult to change, but easier than the shared values ​​(ibid.). The visible behavior was already discussed in the previous model by Schein and is therefore not explained again.

The two levels are not to be viewed independently of one another, they are in mutual interaction with one another. Thus, the speed of companies to respond to customer inquiries can be traced back to their value proposition of customer orientation. The process of influencing can also take place the other way round, with the behavioral patterns influencing the values ​​(ibid.). This is especially the case with new employees, whose values ​​- influenced by the behavior of the old employees - adapt to the existing values.

2.3 Process model of corporate culture according to Hatch

This model is based on Schein's three-level model. The process model is intended to express the dynamic character of the corporate culture once again.

In this model, the elements of culture are not arranged hierarchically, but in a circular shape, and they are constantly interrelated, as shown in Figure 5. The model has also been expanded to include the symbol element.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 5 The process model of the corporate culture according to Hatch

The transformation processes run in two opposite directions - forward, by being proactive, or backward (retroactive). Overall, the following eight transformation processes result from the model (Deeg & Weibler, 2008):


[1] In order to make this work easier to read, the masculine form is usually used for personal designations. However, both male and female persons are meant.

[2] BMW Rover - at that time a loss in value of 9 billion German marks. Chrysler's value has fallen by 35 billion since the merger, and Daimler's by 50 billion.

[3] Corporate culture, organizational and management structure as well as human capital.

[4] Also known as millennials or digital natives.

[5] See Appendix A: Real GDP growth rate of Japan and the United States from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.

[6] Is used synonymously with company in the following.

[7] Profit, turnover, return.

End of the excerpt from 140 pages