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A Summary of Chapter 11: Organizational Culture Change, Book Review Example

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Book Review

Understanding a culture is necessary to implement change within a company or organizations. In 2004, Edgar Schein describes three concepts necessary to better understand an organization’s culture. These concepts are artifacts, espoused beliefs and values, and basic underlying assumptions.

Artifacts are the first level of understanding an organizational culture. These are the initial surface observations of what is experienced. Examples of artifacts include symbols, logos, language, products, and rituals. Because these interpretations can be misleading, one must delve deeper into the levels to better understand organizational culture. Espoused beliefs and values reflect the second level of cultural understanding. These concepts reflect a group’s values which are confirmed by a shared social experience. Schein calls this “social validation,” which encompasses the beliefs and intentions of the majority. However, the beliefs and values are only effective if actions follow through with the intentions and beliefs.  In order to completely understand a culture to implement change, the basic assumptions must be studied. These assumptions lie in the subconscious, are based on emotions, and are therefore difficult to change. According to Schein, basic assumptions consist of behaviors that are “rarely discussed,” “taken for granted” and “based on repeated successes.”  When basic assumptions are understood, then both the artifacts and espoused beliefs and values can be interpreted. Two additional elements which Schein states that are necessary to implement change in an organizational culture are the management of stress and anxiety which occur with change and the assessment of whether the potential for new learning is present.

Organizational culture can be changed by understanding the three levels of cultural behavior, attitudes, and values. To begin the change, the behavior must first be understood; the final change occurs with the subconscious values.  Once these concepts are absorbed, effective change can be implemented.

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