The Three Levels of Organizational Culture Differ in Which of the Following Ways?

The Three Levels of Organizational Culture Differ in Which of the Following Ways?

Organizational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and assumptions that guide the behavior of individuals within an organization. It plays a crucial role in shaping the overall performance, productivity, and success of the organization. Edgar Schein, a renowned organizational psychologist, identified three levels of organizational culture that differ in various ways. These levels are artifacts and behaviors, espoused values, and underlying assumptions.

1. Artifacts and Behaviors:
At the surface level, organizational culture is represented by artifacts and behaviors. Artifacts include visible elements such as dress code, office layout, symbols, and rituals. Behaviors, on the other hand, refer to the actions, interactions, and practices of individuals within the organization. This level is the most observable aspect of culture and can provide insights into the values and beliefs of the organization. For example, if an organization promotes a casual dress code and encourages collaboration through open office spaces, it reflects a culture that values informality and teamwork.

2. Espoused Values:
The second level of organizational culture is espoused values. These are the stated beliefs, philosophies, and principles that an organization espouses. Espoused values are often communicated through mission statements, vision statements, and official policies. They represent the desired culture that the organization aims to create. Employees are expected to align their behavior with these stated values. However, it is important to note that there may be a gap between espoused values and actual behavior. For instance, an organization may claim to prioritize work-life balance but may inadvertently encourage long working hours through its practices.

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3. Underlying Assumptions:
The deepest level of organizational culture is comprised of underlying assumptions. These are the unconscious beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes that individuals hold within the organization. Underlying assumptions are often deeply ingrained and influence decision-making, problem-solving, and interactions. They are not explicitly stated but are reflected in the norms and unwritten rules of the organization. For example, an organization may have an underlying assumption that employees should always prioritize the needs of the client, even at the cost of their well-being. This assumption may drive behaviors and decisions, even if it contradicts the espoused values.


Q: How can organizational culture be measured?
A: Organizational culture can be measured through surveys, interviews, and observations. These methods can help identify the artifacts, behaviors, values, and assumptions prevalent in the organization.

Q: Can organizational culture change over time?
A: Yes, organizational culture can change over time. It can be influenced by shifts in leadership, mergers and acquisitions, changes in organizational structure, and external factors. However, changing culture is a complex process that requires careful planning and effort.

Q: What are the benefits of a strong organizational culture?
A: A strong organizational culture can foster employee engagement, enhance teamwork and collaboration, improve productivity, attract and retain top talent, and create a positive work environment. It can also help organizations adapt to changes and challenges more effectively.

Q: Can different departments within an organization have different cultures?
A: Yes, it is possible for different departments within an organization to have their own subcultures. Each department may have unique values, beliefs, and behaviors that align with their specific functions and objectives. However, there is usually an overarching organizational culture that influences these subcultures.

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