Managing the library's corporate culture for organizational efficiency, productivity, and enhanced service.

Author:Adeyoyin, Samuel Olu


Corporate culture is a key component in the achievement of an organization's mission and strategies, the improvement of organizational effectiveness, and the management of change. Culture is rooted in deeply-held beliefs. It reflects what has worked in the past. It is a pattern of shared beliefs, attitudes, assumptions and values, which may not have been explicitly articulated. Corporate culture shapes the way people act and interact and strongly influences how things get done. It encompasses the organization's goals, behavioural norms, and dominant ideologies. Culture can be expressed through the organization's myths, heroes, legends, stories, jargon, rites, and ritual.

Corporate culture can work for an organization by creating an environment that is conducive to performance improvement and the management of change. It can work against an organization by erecting barriers that prevent the attainment of goals. The impact of culture can include conveying a sense of identity and unity of purpose to members of the organization, facilitating the generation of commitment and shaping behaviour by providing guidance on what is expected.

Library managers live within the corporate culture. They must understand it as a basis for diagnosing and solving problems and for developing new policies or procedures. They may be involved in managing the culture in times of change or during crises.

Culture is manifested in the form of norms, the unwritten rules of behaviour and values, what is regarded as important, expressed as beliefs on what is best or good for the organization and what ought to happen. Values can be implicit or articulated in value statements. The value set of an organization may only be recognized at the top level, or shared so that the enterprise could be described as value-driven. Statements describing general principles of behaviour may support them. Other manifestations of culture include artifacts, the tangible aspects of an organization that people hear, see, or feel; management style, the way in which managers behave and exercise leadership and authority; organizational behaviour, the way in which people act and interact in the organization, the structure of the organization, the process and systems used in the organization; and, organizational climate, the working atmosphere of the organization. This can be described as the explicit culture and was defined by Payne and Pugh as a concept "reflecting the content and strength of the prevalent values, norms, attitudes, behaviours and feelings of a social system". Corporate culture is a system that is continuously affected by events and influences over time. These derive from the organization's external environment and from its internal processes, systems, and technology (Armstrong, 1991).

This paper is a critical analysis of managing the library's corporate culture to enhance organizational efficiency, productivity, and efficient service system. It seeks to sensitize the library managers through divergent views and opinions on how they can manage the corporate culture of their organizations, and to apply the basic principles of corporate culture management to library management. In response to the emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that have brought changes to libraries, the paper explores the management of change in library's corporate culture, especially in this era of ICT.

Literature Review

The current interest in corporate culture began in the 1980s with the work of writers such as Allen and Kraft (1982), Deal and Kennedy (1982), and above all Peters and Waterman (1982). Academics had drawn attention to its importance much earlier, however. Indeed, Allaire and Firsirotu (1984) showed that, more than twenty years before the work of Peters and Waterman, there was already substantial academic literature on organizational culture. Blake and Mouton (1969), for example, were already arguing that there was a link between culture and excellence in the late 1960s.

Turner (1986) traced the "culture craze" of the 1980s to the decline of standards in manufacturing quality in the USA and the challenge to its economic pre-eminence by Japan. He comments that the concept of culture holds out a new way of understanding organizations, and has been offered by many writers as an explanation for the spectacular success of Japanese companies. Bowles (1989), among others, observes that there is an absence of a cohesive culture in advanced economies in the West, and that the potential for creating systems of beliefs and myth within organizations provides the opportunity for promoting both social and organizational cohesion. The case for culture was best summed up by Deal and Kennedy (1983), who argued that culture rather than structure, strategy, or politics is the prime mover in organizations.

Silverman (1970) contended that organizations are societies in miniature and can therefore be expected to show evidence of their own cultural characteristics. However, culture does not spring fully formed from the desires of management. Allaire and Firsirotu (1984) argue that it is the product of a number of different influences: the ambient society's values and characteristics, the organization's history and past leadership, and factors such as industry and technology.

Culture, as Elridge and Crombie (1974) state, refers to the unique configuration of norms, values, beliefs, ways of behaving and so on, that characterize the manner in which groups and individuals combine to get things done. Culture defines how those in the organization should behave in a given set of circumstances. It affects all, from the most senior manager to the humblest clerk. They and others judge their actions in relation to expected modes of behaviour. Culture legitimizes certain forms of action and proscribes other forms. This view is supported by Turner (1971), who observes that cultural systems contains elements of "ought" which prescribes forms of behaviour or allow behaviour to be judged acceptable or not.

Handy (1986) identifies four types of culture: power, role, task and person. He relates each of these to a particular form of organizational structure.

* A power culture is frequently found in small entrepreneurial organizations such as some property, trading, and finance companies. Such a culture is associated with a web structure with one or more powerful figures at the center, wielding power.

* A person culture is rare. The individual and his or her wishes are the central focus of this form of culture. It is associated with a minimal structure, the purpose of...

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