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Organizational Culture and Candidate Fit

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 12

Despite the importance of the concept of organizational culture, many companies find it difficult to accurately define theirs. In his recent book, The Reengineering Alternative: A Plan for Making Your Current Culture Work, William E. Schneider, Ph.D., uses four models or types to define corporate culture. This framework helps interviewers define their own organizational culture and then determine whether an external candidate will fit into the organization.

Currently, we use these four corporate culture models when advising clients on selection and hiring issues. These models are particularly important when the organization is in transition as they make it easier to ensure a balance between hiring people who fit the current culture with those who can represent and shape the new one.

The four types of organization cultures, Control, Collaboration, Competence and Cultivation, are described below:

Control culture emphasizes power and dominance. These cultures are tough-minded, objective and realistic. Control culture companies include GE, Proctor & Gamble, Marriott, and EDS. Leaders are usually authoritative, directive and often paternalistic.

Collaboration culture is all about teams and synergy. These organizations are participative and leaders emphasize teambuilding. There is an emphasis on building commitment, identifying with the organization and generating a strong sense of ownership. Some examples include Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Goldman Sachs, and Southwest Airlines.

Competence culture focuses on striving for superiority and achievement. Leaders are standard-setters who build a vision for their organization, relying on assertive, convincing persuasion to get people to follow. Some examples are Bell Labs, Citicorp, Intel, and Microsoft.

Cultivation culture is concerned with growth and also recognizes the importance of realizing potential and a higher purpose. Examples include Apple (pre-Scully), Celestial Seasonings, Advanced Micro Devices, Esprit and the Sierra Club. Leaders are catalysts who envision possibilities and use charismatic power.

Since the most common reason for on-the-job failure has to do with "fit," understanding corporate culture must parallel understanding the candidate to ensure a good "fit."