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I know that Schein doesn’t depict organizational culture as a set of tribal, primitive practices with an ethnic focus; however, the term “culture” evokes the basic characteristics which a group of people have in common. As I read more into organizational learning for the nonprofit or public sector, I begin to more fully understand the distinctions and commonalities with for-profit groups. For instance, much of the literature cites turf protection as a barrier to organizational learning because it guards information and hinders communication. Turf protection can also be part of the organizational culture at the level of underlying assumptions. The nominal number of salaried positions within an established and secure nonprofit organization (NPO), especially a community-based or grassroots group, breeds potentially destructive competitiveness and lack of cooperation. While competition can be healthy within a group because it can push individuals to increase their performance, it does not guarantee the organization as a whole will develop. Individual development does not equal organizational development. The same theory applies to subgroups.
We have a teacher in-service coming up. Each training meeting focuses on a skill-set to develop subject matter expertise. As individual teachers, we are versed in linguistics, grammar, civics, etc. However, the knowledge sharing only happens at these sanctioned quarterly meetings. Dixon suggests that knowledge sharing should become a tacit process within the organization rather than a happenstance. I don’t know how to make this happen though. I know what the readings say should happen, and I can see that a lot of it is not happening. However, these last couple of chapters in Schein make me want to hold my tongue (especially since these observations and newbie analysis are unsolicited by my administrators). Amongst the impediments that I see in my organization, I also see positive attributes in certain areas that could easily be distributed to other areas. However, the last two chapters of Schein don’t empower me to share what my view of the happenings. It seems almost unhelpful to analyze a culture and then walk away. Also, I hope to draw accurate assumptions about my organization.
My personal involvement can hinder and help the analysis. As the researcher, I feel I should be especially rigid about my observations and the values I attach to them. However, as a member of the organization, I feel I personally know the organization and live their assumptions more so than an outside observer. Schein describes the researcher/consultant as a pseudo part-time employee. This struck a cord because I’ve been trying to balance the ideas of the researcher versus the practitioner in another course I’m currently enrolled. Given the limited time frame, I don’t know if we could accurately decipher the culture of an organization in which we were not already a part. The doctoral student conducted a cultural analysis of a corporation over a nine-month period, and I’m going to venture to say that she probably had more than one course in the area.
When we watched the Enron movie, Skilling’s childhood and beginnings resounded with me especially knowing that as an adult he was emulated and idolized. From a constructivist standpoint, I believe that the leader’s past experiences influence his decision-making and moral aptitude. These practices will have a trickle-d0wn effect, especially if those in inferior positions are like-minded individuals with similar experiential foundations. As an adult, overcompensation and moral detachment only prove what Skilling had thought all along… he was smarter than everyone else therefore better than everyone else. I know Wikipedia should not be a primary source, but there’s some very interesting information about Skilling including a very public nervous breakdown in 2004. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Skilling
I’m mixing Schein and Dixon, but it seems like it would be impossible to initiate learning orientation without understanding the culture.