The 8 Different Types of Company Culture that Exist today

The 8 Different Types of Company Culture that Exist today

Have you ever wondered why everyone shows up 5 minutes late to meetings in your office, while your friend insists meetings start right on the dot at her company? Or perhaps why some people seem to get all their friends from work, while others never see their coworkers outside the office?

Company culture holds many of the answers to these and countless other differences between organizations. In order to better understand the types of culture and the optimal approach to dealing with each, four organizational development experts conducted a literature review to create eight distinct culture buckets (the results of which were published in Harvard Business Review in 2018). To save you the reading (and the expense of buying the article), we’ll discuss the two dimensions that led to classification of the eight types of culture, as well as elaborate on each bucket.

8 Organizational Cultures

In their literature review, the authors of this research found two concepts that underlie a company’s culture, allowing them to plot the different cultural types on a two-dimensional axis.

The first dimension is “people interactions”, which can range from highly independent to highly interdependent—so as you might imagine, independent cultures foster competition and value individuals who can thrive on their own, whereas interdependent cultures judge success through group effectiveness.

The second dimension deals with response to change, ranging from stability to flexibility—the former favoring rules and hierarchy, and the latter innovation and diversity.

Using these two dimensions, the authors created the below two-dimensional axis and resulting eight cultural types which drive what unites employees, the type of person that typically does well in that type of organization, and what company leaders tend to focus on. Interestingly, the cultural type a company falls into often reflects the industry and geographic location; For example, the authors categorize China-based Huawei as having a culture of “authority”, which could perhaps be reflective of the broader culture in China. To be certain, companies don’t necessarily have to fit in just one type of culture, but categorizing them as such can help company leaders and employees alike to be more effective in their work.

Purpose Organizational Culture

Employees united by: Driving sustainability and global communities

Employees are generally: Compassionate and open-minded

Leaders emphasize: Shared ideals, greater cause

Good for: People looking for an organization that values making a impact on the world over individual achievement

Example: Whole Foods

Caring Organizational Culture

Employees united by: Loyalty

Employees are generally: Collaborative, welcoming

Leaders emphasize: Sincerity, teamwork, good relationships

Good for: Those motivated to perform well as a result of positive working relationships

Example: Disney

Order Organizational Culture

Employees united by: Cooperation

Employees are generally: Methodical, rule-following

Leaders emphasize: Shared procedures, customs

Good for: People who are most comfortable in unambiguous, structured environments

Example: SEC

Safety Organizational Culture

Employees united by: The need to feel protected and the ability to anticipate organizational changes

Employees are generally: Risk-conscious, conscientious

Leaders emphasize: Advance planning, pragmatic

Good for: Employees who like to feel included in organizational changes and who prefer careful planning

Example: Lloyd’s of London

Authority Organizational Culture

Employees united by: Strong control

Employees are generally: Competitive, looking to get ahead

Leaders emphasize: Confidence, dominance

Good for: People who are motivated by gaining personal advantage more than organizational success

Example: Huawei

Results Organizational Culture

Employees united by: Success

Employees are generally: Outcome-oriented, merit-based

Leaders emphasize: Goal accomplishment

Good for: Employees who perform their best when executing against set goals and driving towards a winning result

Example: GSK

Enjoyment Organizational Culture

Employees united by: Playfulness and stimulation

Employees are generally: Lighthearted, in search of work that makes them happy

Leaders emphasize: Spontaneity, a sense of humor

Good for: Fun-loving people who look for a sense of excitement in their day-to-day

Example: Zappos

Learning Organizational Culture

Employees united by: Curiosity

Employees are generally: Inventive, creative, always looking to explore alternatives

Leaders emphasize: Innovation, knowledge, adventure

Good for: Those who value learning over other things that might be attained through work, such as stability or personal achievement

Example: Tesla

Conclusion

At the end of the day, no one type of company culture is right or wrong–nor do most companies fall perfectly into a single culture. Rather than trying to box a company into a single cultural type, use these eight classifications as tools to better understand how different companies function–and, perhaps more importantly, where you’ll be the happiest and most productive.