8 Organizational Culture Styles – And Why They Matter

As tax leaders work to extend their influence on company strategy, they might turn their attention to another crucial driver of business outcomes: organizational culture.

The fact that the Harvard Business Review devoted its first featured article of the new year to this topic says a lot for the increasing attention corporate culture is receiving as a strategic asset and competitive differentiator. In The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture, authors Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price and J. Yo-Jud Cheng point out that leaders seeking to build high-performance businesses often find themselves “confounded by culture.” These managers “may lay out detailed, thoughtful plans for strategy and execution, but because they don’t understand the culture’s power and dynamics, their plans go off the rails.”

A company’s culture can impact almost every part of an organization, but the why and how is often difficult to understand—their specifics can be tough to pin down and even more difficult to change. Groysberg and his coauthors offer a typology of cultural styles that shed light on underlying behavioral patterns and how managers shape culture’s influence on strategy. You may recognize some of your own organization’s traits in these eight styles:

  1. Caring: Warm, sincere and relational, with an emphasis on mutual trust. Employees are united by loyalty; leaders emphasize teamwork and positive relationships.
  2. Purpose: Idealistic and tolerant, a focus on doing good for the long-term future of the world. Sustainability and global community are core values.
  3. Learning: Open, inventive, and exploring, characterized by curiosity and creativity. Leaders place a high value on sparking new ideas and exploring alternatives.
  4. Enjoyment: Playful, instinctive, fun-loving, and light-hearted. Leaders emphasize spontaneity and a sense of humor.
  5. Results: Achievement-driven, goal-focused, with an emphasis on winning. Workplaces are outcome-oriented and merit-based; employees focus on capability and success.
  6. Authority: Bold and decisive, emphasizing competition and personal advantage. Leaders place a high value on confidence and dominance.
  7. Safety: Realistic, careful, and cautious. Employees value feeling protected and being able to anticipate change; leaders emphasize planning ahead.
  8. Order: Rule-abiding, respectful, cooperative, with an emphasis on shared norms. Employees seek to play by the rules and fit in; leaders focus on shared procedures and time-honored customs.

Here at Vertex, organizational culture is something we’ve taken very seriously throughout our company’s existence. You can read how that shapes our vision of corporate social responsibility here. And check out our President and CEO David DeStefano’s thoughts on ROI – defined as Return on Individual! – in this CEO Weekly Insights article from Satell Institute.

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Michelle Engro

Public Relations & Social Media Specialist

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Michelle Engro helps coordinate Vertex’s public relations and social media functions. Michelle has more than five years of corporate communications, public relations and social media experience. A graduate of Penn State University with a B.A. in public relations, Michelle also holds an M.A. in communications studies from West Chester University.

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