How to Understand and Improve Your Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is more than just a buzzword. It’s the set of traits, attitudes, norms, values, and policies that drive people and behaviour in an organization. It’s the personality of your company, and it plays a large part in your employees’ overall satisfaction and performance.

According to a Deloitte survey, 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. A positive corporate culture can also help you attract and retain top talent, foster innovation and creativity, enhance customer loyalty, and increase your competitive advantage.

But how do you know what type of corporate culture you have? And how can you improve it to align with your goals and strategies? In this blog post, we’ll explore the four types of corporate culture based on the Competing Values Framework (CVF), a validated and widely-used tool developed by business professors Robert E. Quinn and Kim Cameron. We’ll also share some tips on how to assess and improve your corporate culture to foster an environment that helps your team flourish.

The Four Types of Corporate Culture

Quinn and Cameron identified four types of corporate culture based on two key dimensions: internal focus and integration vs. external focus and differentiation, and flexibility and discretion vs. stability and control. These dimensions reflect the competing values that organizations face when making decisions and setting priorities.

The four types of corporate culture are:

Clan culture

This type of culture emphasizes collaboration, teamwork, empowerment, loyalty, and trust. It has a horizontal structure with low formalization and high participation. Clan culture values employee development, cohesion, and morale. It is often found in family-owned businesses, nonprofits, or service-oriented industries.

Adhocracy culture

This type of culture encourages innovation, creativity, risk-taking, experimentation, and entrepreneurship. It has a dynamic and organic structure with low formalization and high adaptability. Adhocracy culture values growth, learning, and change. It is often found in start-ups, consulting firms, or high-tech industries.

Market culture

This type of culture focuses on results, outcomes, productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness. It has a hierarchical structure with high formalization and centralization. Market culture values achievement, profitability, and customer satisfaction. It is often found in sales-oriented businesses, corporations, or manufacturing industries.

Hierarchy culture

This type of culture relies on rules, procedures, policies, and standards. It has a bureaucratic structure with high formalization and centralization. Hierarchy culture values stability, order, quality, and reliability. It is often found in government agencies, public institutions, or regulated industries.

These four types of corporate culture are not mutually exclusive or fixed. Some organizations may have a dominant type of culture that reflects their core values and practices, while others may have a mix of different types of culture depending on their subunits or functions. Moreover, organizational culture can evolve over time as the internal and external environment changes.

How to Improve Your Corporate Culture

Once you have assessed your corporate culture using the OCAI or other methods, you can start thinking about how to improve it to better fit your vision and mission. Here are some general tips on how to improve your corporate culture:

  • Communicate your vision, mission, values, and goals clearly and consistently to all employees. Make sure they understand why they matter and how they contribute to the organization’s success.
  • Involve your employees in the process of defining and shaping your corporate culture. Solicit their feedback, suggestions, and opinions regularly. Encourage them to share their ideas, concerns, and challenges openly.
  • Align your policies, practices, and incentives with your desired corporate culture. Reward and recognize behaviors that support your values and goals.
  • Provide opportunities for learning, development, and growth for your employees. Help them acquire new skills, knowledge, and competencies that can enhance their performance
    and satisfaction.
  • Foster a sense of community, belonging, and engagement among your employees. Create a positive and supportive work environment that promotes collaboration, cooperation, and mutual respect. Celebrate your achievements and milestones together.

Improving your corporate culture is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that requires commitment, consistency, and continuous improvement. By understanding and improving your corporate culture, you can create a competitive edge for your organization and a fulfilling experience for your employees.


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