Pages:5 (1573 words)
Document Type:Research Paper
Culture Analysis Paper
I’m studying a software company that shall be known as K. K is not based in Silicon Valley, but elsewhere in the US, with offices around the world. K sells SaaS products in the B2B market and has sales in the hundreds of millions, and over 1000 employees. This company has also acquired several small firms in recent years. Integrating all of those individual cultures into a cohesive one has been one of the organization’s biggest challenges. This paper will outline the culture at K via primary sources, supplemented with secondary source material on organizational culture theory.
Primary research consisting of several employee interviews revealed some challenges, especially the domains of underlying assumptions and values. There is a lack of artifacts that provide meaning, which is another problem that will need to be resolved.
As I know people who work in this company I was able to conduct a few interviews and get a sense of what the culture is like. At the baseline level, K has a culture that blends some of the classic software company culture with a more East Coast business culture. The former is manifested in a fairly casual office atmosphere, and perks that would be familiar to most tech employees. The people interviewed found the company fairly progressive at the lower levels in terms of things like social norms and diversity. At the higher levels, where the senior leadership are older, the culture veers more towards a workaholic old white male culture. Some of that trickles down to the other levels of the company, which results in the curious blending of tech startup culture and old school business culture.
The different companies that have been acquired in recent years have been maintained as distinct business units in order to maintain the aspects of their cultures that made them successful. For some of the employees interviewed, this was seen as a positive because they felt that they were successful companies in their own right and that should be respected. Further, there seemed to be a general understanding among interviewees that it would be difficult to simply impose the parent company’s culture on the acquisitions, at least it would be difficult to do so quickly. However, some interviewees did note tensions where some of the individual cultures within the organization clashed, either with each other, or with the culture of the parent company.
Interviewees also noted some confusion about the overall cultural identity of the organization. Some suggested that they weren’t sure there was a coherent culture, others thought it might be dependent on individual departments. If this is true, it presents a challenge for senior management. It could be that the gap between the culture of the senior management team and the younger workers who make up the bulk of the staff is the originator of these tensions,…
…issue within K culture. The multiple acquisitions and generational tensions leave the company with a muddled sense of what its organizational values really are, and that appears to be resulting in some tensions, especially among employees in the acquired companies. Finding ways to reconcile the different value systems within the company should be a priority going forward, in order to retain the highly skilled younger workers at the heart of the company’s software products.
The relative lack of artifacts is evidence of a company that is still finding its way. Where there are tensions, such as those around values, it is important for a company to have artifacts to latch onto. Better development of cultural artifacts – anything from slogans to mascots would be a good starting point – would help to resolve tensions and to build a better sense of overall organizational culture. Without these artifacts, employment at K becomes more transactional for the majority of the workers, something management may wish to avoid.
The underlying assumptions of management appear to be that they can apply their own cultural norms to the rest of the company and that is probably a mistake, because they are mainly different from the workforce. The underlying assumptions of the culture are rooted outside of the technology sector, but the company competes with other tech companies for talented young workers. If the assumptions of K’s organizational culture were better aligned with the needs of these workers,…
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