In the context of an organization, cultural models are frameworks that define, shape, and influence corporate culture. Cultural models also provide some structure to a corporate culture that tends to be fluid and vulnerable to change. Once upon a time, most businesses utilized a hierarchical culture where various levels of management oversaw subordinates below them. Today, however, there exists a greater diversity in models as leaders realize the top-down approach is outdated in many industries and that success can be found elsewhere.
|Cultural Model/Framework||Description||Key Insights|
|Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions||A framework that assesses culture based on six dimensions: Power Distance, Individualism vs. Collectivism, Masculinity vs. Femininity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-Term vs. Short-Term Orientation, and Indulgence vs. Restraint||Helps compare and contrast cultures in terms of values, behaviors, and preferences.|
|Trompenaars’ Seven Dimensions of Culture||Seven cultural dimensions, including Universalism vs. Particularism, Individualism vs. Communitarianism, Neutral vs. Affective, Specific vs. Diffuse, Achievement vs. Ascription, Sequential Time vs. Synchronous Time, and Internal vs. External Control||Provides insights into cultural differences and how they impact communication, management, and decision-making.|
|The Cultural Iceberg Model||Depicts culture as an iceberg, with visible elements (artifacts, behaviors) above the waterline and underlying elements (values, beliefs, assumptions) hidden beneath||Highlights that much of culture is invisible but influences behavior and perceptions significantly.|
|Edward T. Hall’s High-Context vs. Low-Context Culture||Classifies cultures as high-context (relying on contextual cues and nonverbal communication) or low-context (relying on explicit verbal communication)||Helps explain communication styles and expectations in different cultural contexts.|
|The Lewis Model (Linear-Active, Multi-Active, Reactive)||Categorizes cultures as Linear-Active (task-oriented), Multi-Active (engagement-oriented), or Reactive (relationship-oriented)||Offers insights into preferred work styles and interactions in diverse cultural settings.|
|Geert Hofstede’s Model of Organizational Culture||Extends Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to assess the culture within organizations||Helps organizations understand and manage cultural aspects influencing teamwork, leadership, and decision-making.|
|The GLOBE Project (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness)||A research project identifying nine cultural dimensions that impact leadership and organizational behavior, including Performance Orientation, Humane Orientation, and Future Orientation||Assists in understanding how cultural factors affect leadership and management practices worldwide.|
|The Schwartz Cultural Values Model||Classifies cultures based on ten broad values, such as Benevolence, Universalism, Power, and Tradition||Helps analyze cultural differences and preferences across a range of values.|
|The Lewis Model of Cultural Types||Divides cultures into Linear-Active, Multi-Active, and Reactive types, emphasizing the influence of time, relationships, and communication||Provides insights into effective communication and business practices in different cultural contexts.|
|The Hall-Tonna Model of Cultural Factors||Considers various cultural factors, including context, time, information flow, space, and social structure||Aids in analyzing how cultural dimensions impact social interactions and workplace dynamics.|
|The Three-Colors of Worldview Model||Categorizes worldviews as Traditional, Modern, or Postmodern, influencing values, beliefs, and attitudes||Offers a perspective on how cultural shifts affect societal norms and individual behavior.|
|The Intercultural Development Continuum||Represents stages of intercultural competence, including Denial, Polarization, Minimization, Acceptance, and Adaptation||Helps individuals and organizations assess and develop their intercultural competence.|
|The Erin Meyer Culture Map||Depicts cultural differences on eight scales, including Communication Style, Leadership Style, and Decision-Making Style||Facilitates cross-cultural understanding and collaboration by identifying areas of potential conflict or alignment.|
|The Hall’s Cultural Factors Model||Focuses on communication patterns and cultural norms influenced by context, time, and space||Helps explain how individuals from different cultures perceive and engage in communication.|
|The Bird’s Nest Model of Culture||Views culture as a complex, interconnected web of values, behaviors, symbols, and artifacts||Encourages a holistic understanding of culture as a dynamic and multifaceted system.|
The Competing Values Framework was developed in 1983 by Robert Quinn and John Rohrbaugh.
The pair found that successful companies needed to balance two factors:
- Focus – some companies were effective when they maintained a competitive external position, while others were better suited to focusing on internal processes, and
- Stability – some companies were also more efficient when they displayed flexibility, while others were successful because they favored control and stability.
From these two factors, Quinn and Rohrbaugh argued there were four ideal types of organization with each having a unique set of behaviors:
- Hierarchy – inward-looking, ordered, and controlled companies with a focus on structure. Their rigidity makes them less responsive to situations and market demands.
- Clan – also inward-looking but able to respond to change with teamwork, collaboration, and a shared, almost familial environment.
- Adhocracy – outward-looking companies that are flexible and responsive innovators and risk-takers. Unsurprisingly, they tend to be entrepreneurial and driven.
- Market – outward-looking companies that are customer-oriented, competitive, less nurturing, and cognizant of their position in the market.
Denison organizational culture model
It describes four key traits (and twelve associated management techniques) that help an organization develop a robust and effective culture. These include:
- Mission – does the company know where it is heading?
- Involvement – are employees engaged with their work and in alignment?
- Adaptability – is the company able to respond to the market, customers, and other external factors?
- Consistency – can the company leverage its values, processes, and systems?
Hall’s iceberg model
Hall’s iceberg model was developed in 1976 by American anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher Edward T. Hall.
Hall likened corporate culture to an iceberg. He posited that some aspects of culture were:
- Visible (above the waterline) – such as vision, mission, strategy, external presentation, and policies.
- Invisible (below the waterline) – such as values, norms, relationships, unwritten rules, status, and fundamental employee needs such as safety and belonging.
Companies use Hall’s cultural model to shape their culture by addressing the invisible aspects, as these constitute the values and thought patterns that ultimately drive behavior.
The McKinsey 7s framework was developed by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman while they were involved with McKinsey as consultants in the 1970s.
Peters and Waterman describe a corporate culture in terms of six elements that are classified as either:
- Hard elements – strategy, structure, and systems, or
- Soft elements – staff, skills, and shared values.
Each of these six elements is interdependent and each must be balanced for the company to succeed.
To that end, the McKinsey 7s framework has a core focus on change management and its ability to positively or negatively reshape corporate culture.
The Hofstede model was developed by culture expert Geert Hofstede in the 1980s to serve as a framework for cross-cultural communication. Over six years, he analyzed the results of IBM employee surveys to determine how the culture of society impacted their values and by extension, workplaces.
Hofstede’s work has been used by consultants in international business, psychology, and communication.
The model does not provide a concrete plan of action. Instead, it is used by businesses to conceptualize their ideal corporate culture and understand the various societal and cultural factors that are present.
This makes it ideal for new companies who need to establish a corporate culture or develop a cultural manifesto.
- In the context of an organization, cultural models are frameworks that define, shape, and influence corporate culture. Cultural models are frameworks that provide some structure to a corporate culture that tends to be fluid and vulnerable to change.
- Cultural models include the Competing Values Framework, a common cultural model that inspired the relatively recent Denison model.
- Other models include Hall’s iceberg model, the McKinsey 7s framework, and the Hofstede model which is based on research into the impact of culture on employee values, societies, and workplaces.
- Cultural Models in Organizations:
- Cultural models are frameworks that define and influence corporate culture within an organization.
- They provide structure and understanding to the often fluid and changeable nature of corporate culture.
- Competing Values Framework:
- Developed by Robert Quinn and John Rohrbaugh, it categorizes organizations based on their focus and stability.
- Four ideal types of organizations emerge: Hierarchy, Clan, Adhocracy, and Market.
- Each type exhibits distinct behaviors and approaches that contribute to their success.
- Denison Organizational Culture Model:
- Built on the Competing Values Framework, it identifies key traits for a robust culture: Mission, Involvement, Adaptability, and Consistency.
- Focuses on behaviors driven by beliefs and assumptions to clarify organizational culture.
- Hall’s Iceberg Model:
- McKinsey 7s Framework:
- Created by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, it analyzes corporate culture using six elements categorized as hard (strategy, structure, systems) and soft (staff, skills, shared values).
- Emphasizes the interdependency of these elements and their impact on change management and cultural reshaping.
- Hofstede Model:
- Developed by Geert Hofstede, it focuses on cross-cultural communication and understanding workplace values.
- Based on a global survey of IBM employees in different countries.
- Provides insights into cultural dimensions that impact workplace behavior and values.
- Key Takeaways:
Other Types of Organizational Structures
Siloed Organizational Structures
Open Organizational Structures
Read Next: Organizational Structure.
Organizational Structure Case Studies
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