Throughout management history, culture has played a more important role in organisation for both employers and employees, as it provides a background to understanding an organisation’s identity rules and mission. This essay evaluates the effect of organisational culture based on the theoretical research, Cultural Dynamic Model of Mary Jo Hatch (1993), as well as observations of the company’s climate and interview with one of the employees of the company. It will consist of the general information about culture, features of Indian national identity, basic culture theories and description of the Cultural Dynamic Model and its main processes. Limitations of this analysis will also be mentioned at the end of the report. Moreover, each part of the report will include an application of the processes of the model to the Indian IT company Infosys Ltd, which specialises in offshoring technology services and has more than 100,000 employees worldwide.
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Considering the culture within organisations, it is essential to emphasise that culture is an extremely difficult topic, and it can be defined in many ways  . According to Lundberg (1990) culture as a day-to-day sense may be understood intuitionally, and includes a variety of aspects, such as being a broad and shared by group members psychological phenomenon within any stable organisation with a history. It has invisible symbolic and deeply buried values and assumptions in its core, which can be gained and modified in some rare cases  .
Indian Culture and Infosys Ltd.
Infosys’ culture is a reflection of its co-founder, Narayan Murthy, who imposed a southern Indian culture, and consequently recruited individuals from that region. As the company grew, it decided to recruit from different regions to take advantage of the country’s cultural diversity. Kanungo, Sadavarti and Srinivas (2001) suggest that organisational culture in India has been linked to “organisational success or less successful performance” (p.30). This explains Infosys’ strong culture and drives to improve employees’ well-being. In order to manage diversity, corporate policies became more flexible and employee focused by providing benefits such as accommodations, sets of recreational facilities and other advantages for their welfare  . Hence, Infosys recognise the importance of cultural differences because of its potential to increase the company’s overall performance. Furthermore, Indian opinion leaders and policy makers encourage employee involvement, as organisations can’t afford to neglect their “cultural dimension” (Kanungo, Sadavarti and Srinivas , p.51). Additionally, organisations that can nurture “the innovative dimensions of their culture in a person-centered manner are more likely to treat culture as a meaningful organizational process” (Ibid., p.52) that encourages growth of IT in India.
Allaire and Firsirotu (1984) see organisations as sociocultural systems and organisations as systems of ideas. In the former, social and cultural components are integrated and synchronized in the organisation, where the focus lies with values, norms, and beliefs and with the interaction of individuals who “constitute concrete collectivities” (Ibid., p.195). In system of ideas, culture is located in the minds of culture-bearers or viewed as systems of knowledge “of learned standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating and acting” (Ibid., p.148).
Furthermore, Schein (1990) has an alternative approach to organisational culture. In his research he identifies it on three levels: observable artifacts, values and basic assumptions. The observable artifacts are the visible manifestations of an organisation’s culture such as the physical and material objects and the level of technology. He suggests that it “includes everything from the physical layout, the dress code, the manner in which people address each other, the smell and feel of the place, its emotional intensity” (Ibid., p.111). The values, which are located between the artifacts and the basic assumptions, determine the behavioral norms. At this level the focus is on “how people feel and think” (Ibid., p.112). The Basic assumptions are difficult to detect and change. They determine the unconscious “perceptions, thought processes, feelings, and behavior” of individuals (Ibid., p.112). The model below displays Schein’s model of organisational culture.
Source: Schein 2004, p. 26
The chosen model
The model we will apply to Infosys is Mary Jo Hatch’s (1993) The Dynamic Model. It is an enhanced model based on Schein’s (1985), which emphasises on symbolic and process factors. The “Symbols” aspect was introduced to the elements of Schein’s model, which makes this model more complex. Connecting these elements together made a spinning wheel structure, which was interpreted as being able to operate both forward (proactive/prospective) and backward (retrospective/retroactive). This in turn has created a more dynamic relationship between the elements as opposed to a static relationship between them. The Mary Jo Hatch model we will use is displayed below.
Source: Hatch 1993, p. 660
The point of entry to using the model is variable, as this will be influenced by the research topic. For this particular study, we will use “assumptions” as the starting point for our analysis (Hatch, 1993). The process between assumptions and values is manifestation, which can be further sub-categorised into proactive (assumptions to values) and retroactive (values to assumptions). Infosys’s vision is to be a globally respected corporation. The underlying assumptions consist of having high standards and having an enthusiastic approach to learn, as well as being hard working, competitive and honest. The processes of proactive manifestation shapes these intangible assumptions into distinct values of the company, such as impressing the client, being the market leader, being fair and ethical as well as constantly striving for perfection (Infosys Ltd, 2012).
Retrospective manifestation occurs when there is a change in values, which can lead to possibly maintaining or transforming existing assumptions. The CEO of Infosys and managing director included employees as intangible assets in their 2011 balance sheet and stated that their employees were their value. Numerous employees assume that their employer, disregards their hardworking efforts, which contradicts existing assumptions. Ultimately, it could possibly have enough influence to change the current assumptions and create a new set of assumptions.
According to Hatch’s dynamics model (1993), an organisation’s artifacts are the most realisable aspects of its culture. Realisation transforms values into artifacts (proactive realisation) and accordingly, keeps or changes the existing values through the production of new artifacts (retroactive realisation).
As emphasized by one of the ex-employees of Infosys, the company has built an environmentally friendly strategy. This can be made clear from Infosys operating using a clean power source of windmills that are attached to each building and the use solar powered mini-vans for handicapped and pregnant women for transportation within the company. Furthermore, they give large amounts of money to charities, focusing on poor people and children education. In addition, following a natural disaster in any part of the world, an online portal is opened for donation transactions. If an employee wishes to donate money it will be debited from their salary.
Infosys believes that everything should be provided for the people it employs. Most of the buildings are like well designed and include food courts, sport facilities and employee care centers. In some cases a 4-star hotel is included, as well as gardens and other leisure facilities.
Infosys wants to encourage communication between project members and employees to create a good work ethic, for example various activities are organised after each project completion to help employees get a better understanding of each other, to ultimately promote efficient work processes and good outputs/performance. Awards for the most effective people are presented each year. In addition, employees have the chance to meet and talk to the top management team. Moreover, there are daily quiz competitions and music meetings organised for the employees. Mondays and Tuesdays everyone is required to be in formal dressing. There is a flexible approach to communication, employees are encouraged to talk informally to each other and fun and jokes are allowed. The methods above increase employees’ effectiveness and creativity.
People are generally self-motivated inside the company as they are continuously monitored by their supervisors and managers who use a check list of attributes. The monitored period is discussed on a 6 month basis as a part of the appraisal cycle. Regular efficiency reports are also distributed to announce the department with the best performance. Moreover, there are weekly internal newsletters informing the employees of the company’s news and other relevant subjects.
These cultural artifacts have been incorporated in the organisation’s culture through a long process of experimenting and assessment in order to reflect the company’s values. Since they are absorbed in the culture, they “work retroactively to realign values as culture adjusts to their presence” (Hatch 1993, p.667), which means that artifacts through retroactive realisation have the ability to alter the organisational values throughout time, although it is a long process.
Symbols are referred to the visible, the physical manifestations and to the indicators of organisational life. Symbols are experienced as tangible and can be noticed through sound, touch, sight and smell (Rafaeli and Worline, 1999).
“Symbols and artefacts are indistinguishable and a list of organisational symbols consists of the corporate logos, slogans, stories, visual images and metaphors” (Gioia, 1986 cited in Hatch, 1993, p. 669) while corporate behaviour consists of values and norms and corporate communication consists of public relations and advertising. In Infosys a particular dress code is followed which is considered as a part of company’s corporate design where men are required to wear full sleeve shirt and tie and women are meant to wear full formal wear like salwar kamij.
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Prospective symbolisation suggests that an artefact is an objective form in a literal meaning. Firstly they arise as just artefacts and “by adding cultural processing they get recognised as symbolic forms by the organisation” (Brown,1993 and Tompkin, 1987 cited in Hatch, 1993, p.670). Retrospective symbolisation enhances prospective symbolisation which furthers the meaning of the aspect. In addition, Infosys’ logo remains one until retrospective symbolisation takes place which results in the emblem meaning much more such as an image for purpose and vision corresponding to its slogan “Powered by Intellect, driven by values” (Infosys Limited, 2004).
Corporate behaviour is the attitude of an organisation when it is considered as a single body. Values define customer satisfaction and leadership. Norms are for the long term development of Infosys and the best standards of corporate governance should be applied for greater prosperity such as an increased customer base and profits. The company applied a good level of external communication and it never compromised on its profit margin. External clients are aware of the Infosys’ service quality, are never concerned about bargaining the terms and conditions and always wants to give their business to the company. Also, the company keeps its client well informed concerning progress of their project, through weekly meetings.
Infosys is a knowledge intensive company which recognises the value of its human assets in maintaining an enhanced culture. The business activities of the company are anchored into the pillars of corporate behaviour which are business ethics and corporate social responsibility. According to the interviewee Infosys’ main ethic is based around the notion that “Client is the Boss” and that it tends to prioritise client requirements over its own as long as their margin standards are met. Also, Infosys adopted schools in villages and took full responsibility of education of children; ex CEO runs his own non-governmental organisation in which they use to raise funds for the poor.
In terms of cultural assumptions, it can be useful to refer to not only the Dynamic Model, but also the original model of Schein, where the assumptions are viewed as the core content of the organisational culture. As basic assumptions consists of unconscious and strong granted beliefs within an organisation (Schein, 2004), in Infosys it can be seen as a less hierarchical and friendly atmosphere between employees as a part of the culture of the organisation.
However, from a cultural dynamic perspective, interpretation is considered as a bidirectional process that contains an interaction between current symbols and basic assumptions. Schutz (1970, cited by Hatch, 1993) claimed that interpretation was a significant medium for establishing the meaning of an experience and involved the retrospective and prospective interpretations simultaneously. The former is a move from basic assumptions to current symbols, which can be seen in relation to Infosys as the activities for a successful completion of the work. Emotional satisfacion from the rewards can be related to the competitions and games organised by the company. The Prospective path introduces an influence on basic assumptions from symbols, such as newly created activities and rewards systems, which may influence the creation of new assumptions and opinion within the company.
According to Ricoeur (1976 cited in Hatch, 1993: 674) interpretation should be viewed as “a second-order experience of symbolisation” which can be distinguished with the direct experience. Hatch (1993) summarised interpretation in two points: Firstly, current symbolisation experience was interpreted in an existing cultural frame and revised assumptions by constructing some new meaning. The prospective interpretation focuses more on the move from external symbols to company assumptions and also involves a reciprocal effect. Infosys describes itself as multi-cultural because of its global and diverse recruitment base. It may be a significant reason and stimulus for the free, active, inclusive and innovative work atmosphere inside the company. Employees from different nations and regions bring various and contrasting opinions and work styles to the workplace, which promote the development of innovative and specific ideas, methods and perspectives. Multi-cultural employees offer a special cultural content for Infosys, who gives a symbolic significance to it. Secondly, cultural assumptions had effects on symbols and supplied opportunities for culture to re-establish existing symbolised content and engage new symbols. Infosys emphasises on its innovation and freedom, for example it organises events at least twice a year where lower level employees get to meet top management. Sports, culture and art are supported and several fun clubs and activities are provided. It also has a rich internal communications to supply opportunities for employees to know how their organisation works, how decisions are made, and what drives the company to develop.
Limitations of report – interview
Although the chosen model for this analysis is very complex, there are still limitations to the report. Firstly, the fact that only one person was interviewed limits the report because the perception of an individual does not necessarily represent the rest of the employees. Moreover, our main source of information is the Infosys’ official site. However, it is understandable that there is a strict policy about the information available on their website.
Secondly, the Cultural Dynamic Model has a few underlying limitations. Hatch tried to fill the gaps in Schein’s model by adding ‘symbols’ as a new category and used the interpretation process to explain the relationship between symbols and assumptions. However, the explanation for this process was relatively short in comparison to other processes within the model. Furthermore, the processes of the model concentrate on cognitive and social behaviours, but not on the relationship between the members of the organization (Hatch 1993). Future research should work on expanding the interpretation processes of the model to make it clearer, as well as including interrelationship factors into the model.
Infosys emphasises on the importance of culture. It uses a hierarchical structure, however this does not imply it uses a rigid chain of command, and a strict set of rules. The Company values its employees, it’s diversity and the different skills and working practices employees bring to it. Furthermore, it is concerned with their well being and this can be shown by employees being classed as assets on their balance sheet. It provides a relaxing environment for employees to work in and provide them numerous benefits to increase productivity, efficiency and innovation. In addition, it enables low level employees to meet and interact with top management by organising at least two events every year.
Additionally, certain rules and regulations still exist to ensure efficient working practices. Infosys has found the right proportion of rules and regulations with freedom and relaxation, and this is what gives it strong organisational culture.
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