Strong vs. Weak Organizational Cultures: Examples & Differences

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  1. 0:05 Strong vs. Weak…
  2. 1:11 What Is Organizational Culture?
  3. 1:56 Strong Organizational Culture
  4. 3:31 Weak Organizational Culture
  5. 5:00 Strong Cultures vs. Weak Cultures
  6. 5:58 Lesson Review
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Taught by

John McLaughlin

In this lesson, you will learn the difference between a strong organizational culture and a weak organizational culture. You will also learn how these different types of culture affect the members of an organization.

Strong vs. Weak Organizational Cultures

Kurt counts cartons of ketchup. Kurt is in charge of quality control at Kelly's Ketchup Factory, and his job is to make sure every ketchup bottle is full, every label is straight, every cap is on tight and every carton is full before he ships them to his customers. Myrnie mixes mustard. She works for Murray's Mustard Company, and her job is to combine the exact amounts of vinegar, water, spices and mustard seed to make every batch of Murray's Mustard the best it can be.

These two companies are similar in many ways. Both have been making an American condiment for a long time. Both companies have cultures with similar core values. They both want to make the best product possible, and make it affordable for the average consumer. There is a big difference in the strength of cultures of these two companies, however. Let's find out the differences between the strong organizational culture of Kelly's Ketchup and the weak organizational culture of Murray's Mustard, and how these differences affect the day-to-day operations of the employees of these two companies.

What is Organizational Culture?

First, let's define organizational culture. Every organization has a unique culture - the same way every person has a unique personality. Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values and beliefs that governs how people behave in organizations. The culture of an organization is determined by the values placed on a set of characteristics, such as risk orientation and attention to detail.

If there is a high level of agreement and commitment among the members of an organization on the importance of these values, their organization has a strong culture. An organization in which members do not agree with the core values or are not committed to the core values has a weak culture.

Strong Organizational Culture

The president of Kelly's Ketchup believes that it is very important that every bottle of ketchup that leaves his plant is made exactly the same way. He believes that producing a consistently high-quality product is very important to the consumers who buy his ketchup. He acts as a role model for a high level of consistency by performing his job with great precision.

The president shares this belief with everyone who works at Kelly's Ketchup and provides ways for employees to measure their success at meeting this high standard. The workers on the production line are paid bonuses for every batch of ketchup they produce without a defect. Attention to detail is one of the core values of the culture at Kelly's Ketchup, and by aligning the employee's values to his, the president has created a very strong culture of production accuracy at Kelly's Ketchup.

This strong culture exists because almost everyone who works for Kelly's Ketchup agrees with the importance of producing a consistently high-quality product. Every employee knows that it is part of their job to make sure that every bottle of ketchup they produce will look and taste exactly the same. Any worker can stop the production line for any reason, anytime they notice something is wrong with the product.

Shared values that are widely held by the employees provide a strong culture at Kelly's Ketchup. This strong culture acts like a strong wind that guides all the members of this organization along a similar path to reach the common goals of the organization. Like the wind that pushes a sail, the strong culture is invisible, but very powerful.

Weak Organizational Culture

Murray's Mustard also has a core value of attention to detail. Like Kelly's Ketchup, the president of Murray's Mustard also believes in the importance of making a consistently high-quality product. Unlike Kelly's Ketchup, the president of Murray's Mustard has only explained the importance of this attention to detail with a few of his vice presidents.

The rest of the members of the organization have no idea that it is important for them to strive towards creating a consistent product. Since the weak culture of Murray's Mustard provides very little guidance, employees on the mustard production line are not always sure what they should do if they notice a mustard jar that is half full or missing a label.

Myrnie once noticed that the vinegar she was using was past its expiration date and had an unusually strong odor. Myrnie reported this to her supervisor, who filled out a report and sent it to the purchasing department to notify them that they had purchased outdated vinegar. Myrnie used the old vinegar in her batch of mustard and stopped paying attention to expiration dates on the ingredients she used.

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