Every organization is different, and all of them have a unique culture to organize groups of people. Yet few people know that every organization actually combines a mix of four different types of organizational culture under one leading cultural style, according to research by business professors Robert E. Quinn and Kim S. Cameron at the University of Michigan.
Quinn and Cameron developed the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), a validated survey method to assess current and preferred organizational cultures. The OCAI is based on Quinn and Cameron’s Competing Values Framework Model, which has been used by over 12,000 companies worldwide.
The framework explains how the four organizational cultures compete with one another. The four parameters of the framework include internal focus and integration vs. external focus and differentiation, and stability and control vs. flexibility and discretion. (As shown in diagram above.)
Based on these parameters, the framework breaks organizational cultures into four distinct quadrants or cultural types: The Clan Culture, the Adhocracy Culture, the Market Culture, and the Hierarchy Culture. Quinn and Cameron discovered that flexible organizations are more successful than rigid ones because the best organizations are able to manage the competition between cultures while activating each of the four value sets when needed.
To determine what type of organizational culture you belong to, here is a summary of the four types and their specific qualities:
The OCAI research reveals that it’s rare for companies to share equal traits from all four cultural types, with no single dominant type. However, it is likely that departments within an organization may exhibit subdominant traits, such as the accounting department having a mainly Hierarchy/Control culture, while the development team is shaped by more of an Adhocracy/Creativity culture.
Defining any one culture is difficult because it is based on a complex combination of people’s shared attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and behaviors. Leaders can use the OCAI survey to gain insights into the dominant culture of their organization, and to assess the gaps between their current culture and the preferred culture.
You can only change a culture by first classifying it and understanding it. The OCAI and Competing Values Framework can serve as powerful tools to make empirical comparisons of an organizational culture before and after any major change initiative, reorganization, or merger.