Online College Courses for Credit

4 Tutorials that teach Workplace Cultures
Take your pick:
Workplace Cultures

Workplace Cultures

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that over time workplaces take on the characteristics of cultures.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

29 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

310 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 27 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Video Transcription

Download PDF

We are all familiar with culture. We grew up in a culture. If we grew up here in the United States, we grew up in the American culture. Well, when we go to our places of work, we're also entering a specific culture. I'm Marlene, and I'd like to talk with you more today about workplace cultures.

So first of all, let's just quickly review the whole idea of culture. "Culture" is a group of people who share the same rules, norms, traditions, the same way of viewing the world. We see it as sort of a "normal way" that the world should work. That's our cultural viewpoint. And of course, if you've ever traveled to another country where perhaps the cultural viewpoint is a bit different, there can be a bit of a clash-- misunderstandings.

So our workplaces here are also cultures. Now, we call this "Organizational Culture." And it's an "Organizational Culture," because over a period of time, any organization or company is going to develop specific rules, norms, ways of behaving that are just the way you do things in this company.

Some of that will be formal rules. There might be a travel policy, dress code, channels of communication. Other things there maybe are more informal-- the way people interact with one another. Is there an open door policy? Do people meet together, celebrate birthdays, or is it a little bit more formal? So there's a certain culture.

Now, just as we can have cross-cultural conflict, we can also have conflict between these workplace cultures. In a sense, these are sub-cultures because the culture's not as extensive in a workplace as it is in the main culture, but it is a smaller culture embedded in a larger one. We call that "sub-culture." So workplace is a "sub-culture."

And we can have cross-sub-cultural conflicts just like we can have cultural conflicts. So what do I mean by this "cross-sub-cultural conflicts"? Well, let's say that you have been working in marketing, and you've been working in an IT company. You've been working for a company that works with computers, with the internet, and it's a little bit more loose there. It's high-tech.

So you come dressed casually to work. You're in marketing. You meet in a big open room. Everybody's-- there's a free flow of information. And you get hired to do marketing.

So you leave this company because you've gotten hired to do marketing at an investment firm, and you see this as a promotion. You go to the investment firm, and you're used to being around marketing people that are a little looser. So you dress kind of casually-- the way you did at the high-tech company. Only, in the investment firm, they never dressed casually. Not even on Fridays.

Everybody's always dressed more formally, more conservatively. So when you come in dressed casually, you have violated a norm-- an organizational norm. OK.

So this sub-culture does things differently, this particular workplace. And so that is considered inappropriate behavior there. It can lead to a little bit of clash, misperceptions about you by other people that work in that culture. So that's one example here of what we mean by "cross-sub-cultural conflicts."

Now, we may also find that the communication patterns differ. You may be used to a way of communicating where it's open, you communicate directly to people, and you send a message directly to somebody, and that's fine. Whereas in this new company, the channels of communication are a bit more hierarchical. So you have just sent a message to somebody on your team about a meeting, that you're going to progress with a new idea, that you've got a new marketing idea for a project.

And your boss comes in a little miffed that he was not on that message. He was not copied on this message to know about this meeting. Well, you didn't realize you needed to formally announce this to him-- that this is part of the communication channels here. There's more hierarchical. You need to send something up, get approval before you can send it out.

So those are examples of how you can have this sort of conflict between work cultures. Now, there are conflicts within the workplace, and it's an area where we can do conflict resolution. But some cultures are going to be a little bit more open or receptive to conflict resolution techniques than others because the sub-cultures here-- the organizations-- differ.

So if you're in a company, for example, that is more hierarchical, where these are the rules, there's a certain set way of doing things-- this could be like the military, but it wouldn't have to be as extreme as the military. It could be just a more formal, hierarchical organization that may not be quite as receptive to bringing people together to sit in a room to talk because the channels of communication don't work that way. Whereas you might be in a company where it's more open, the structure is more flat, it's not hierarchical, and people are little bit more open and receptive to the idea of mediation and conflict resolution.

So workplace cultures vary, and people collaborate more in some cultures. In other cultures, they're more competitive. Some are more team-based So depending on the culture of an organization you may find as a conflict-intervener that you would need to adapt processes and that some cultures are going to be more receptive than others to the whole idea of conflict resolution.

So thank you for joining me, and I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know

A form of human social organization in which people identify themselves as members of a group sharing symbol systems, norms, traditions, and viewpoints towards the world.

Organizational Culture

The rules and norms governing behavior in a given organization or type of organization.


A culture embedded within another, larger culture.