Strong Versus Weak Corporate Cultures

1. Corporate cultures vary widely in the degree to which they are embedded in company practices and behavioral norms.
2. Strong-Culture Companies: Strong-culture companies have a well-defined corporate character, typically underpinned by a creed or values statement. Three factors contribute to the development of strong cultures:

a. A founder or strong leader who establishes values, principles, and practices that are consistent and sensible in light of customer needs, competitive conditions, and strategic requirements
b. A sincere, long-standing company commitment to operating the business according to these established traditions, thereby creating an internal environment that supports decision making and strategies based on cultural norms
c. A genuine concern for the well-being of the organization’s three biggest constituencies – customers, employees, and shareholders

CORE CONCEPT: In a strong-culture company, values and behavioral norms are like crabgrass; deeply rooted and hard to weed out

3. Weak-Culture Companies: In direct contrast to strong-culture companies, weak-culture companies are fragmented in the sense that no one set of values is consistently preached or widely shared, few behavioral norms are evident in operating practices, and few traditions are widely revered or proudly nurtured by company personnel. Very often, cultural weaknesses stems from moderately entrenched subcultures that block the emergence of a well-defined companywide work climate.

4. Weak cultures provide little or no strategy-implementing assistance because there are no traditions, beliefs, values, common bonds, or behavioral norms that management can use as levers to mobilize commitment to executing the chosen strategy.