A bi-paradigmatic analysis of organisational culture
Despite culture being a core focus of the study of organisations for over 30 years, the concept is marked by disagreement. The literature on culture tends to present a series of dualisms with each side displaying different meta-theoretical assumptions. Notwithstanding these differences the characterisations of culture are fundamentally the same. For those who view culture as corporate, culture is a shared set of values, beliefs and attitudes devise and disseminated by management. For those who view culture as organisational, culture is a more or less shared set of values, beliefs and attitudes produced through social construction. The production of these discrete sets of values implies that, from either perspective, culture is a normative structure. The only difference being in the derivation of that structure. This normative structure means that, from the perspective of corporate culture, the ways in which people think and act are guided by the meta-theoretical assumptions which found the functional paradigm. In contrast, from the perspective of organisational culture, the ways in which people think and act are guided by the meta-theoretical assumptions which found the interpretive paradigm. This thesis argues that the framing effect of these meta-theoretical assumptions strongly influences research outcomes. This is demonstrated through a bi-paradigmatic analysis of a single organisation's culture. The bi-paradigmatic approach is produced by sets of research methods consistent with the functionalist and the interpretive paradigms. The analysis generates two distinctive contributions. First a deeper understanding of how research outcomes are shaped by paradigmatic assumptions. Second a re-conceptualisation of organisational culture. Here the move away from a mono-method approach reveals contradictory views of culture. Rather than a unitary set of values, attitudes and beliefs culture is seen as consistent of disparate value sets in need of reconciliation. Culture is re-conceptualised as the rubric which guides that reconciliation.