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Culture Case

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Culture has become one of the main areas of discussion in an organisation but there is no agreement on appropriate definition of culture. Culture may be understood as 'The way we do things around here' or 'the way we think about things around here.' (Williams et al., 1994) Culture comprise of at least four sub concepts: values, beliefs, norms and symbols. (Jepperson and Swidler, 1994) Culture is a multi faceted concept and it is difficult to tell which components are most important for understanding organisation performance. (Detert et al., 2003)


'The collection of traditions, values, policies, beliefs, and attitudes that constitute a pervasive context for everything we do and think in an organisation.' (Mclean and Marshall, 1993 cited in Mullins, 2002)

Organisations can have a culture if it has been a stable group for some period of time. (Schein, 1988) Schein (1988) suggested three level of organisation culture: Artifacts, visible organisational structures and processes, Values, strategies, goals and philosophies and Underlying Assumptions, unconscious, taken for granted beliefs, habit of perception, thought and feeling. Reeves and Bednar (1994) said that the organisation culture can change people actions in the perception of all aspects of their work. It greatly influences their action and behaviours.


"We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen."

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company operates 5 star resorts and luxury hotels worldwide. The motto, credo, three steps of service, service values, the 6th diamond and the employee promise (Gold Standards) are the foundations of Ritz-Carlton Hotel. (Ritz-Carlton, n.d. a) What sets Ritz-Carlton apart is its service. They fully understand and are committed to the culture of service. Even in times of financial crisis, its service quality didn't fall; it was recognized for its continuous excellence. In past several years, sales revenues have increased from $1.2 billion in 1998 to $3 billion in 2007. (Michelli, 2008)


Developing the ideas of Harrison, Handy illustrated power culture, role culture, task culture and person/support culture to be the four main types of organisation culture. (Mullins, 2002)

Figure 2.1 The four Gods of Management (Handy, 1995)


The symbol for Zeus is a spider web. The organisation following this culture has division of work based on function or products. In the figure 2.1, we can observe 2 lines, one radiating out from the centre and the other encircling the centre. The encircling lines are the lines of power and influence and they are weakened as they go farther from the centre. (Handy, 1995) To meet the organisation goals and objective, power is used in form of rewards and punishments depending on whether one achieves those goals and objective or one doesn't achieve them. The decision making is up to few key people who have got the power and the power culture has more faith in individuals. (Handy, 1993)

Ritz-Carlton Hotel has hired leaders with determination and supportive line managers. Daily for every department, there is a line-up to talk about one of the twelve service value. (Anon, n.d.) Weekly, President and Senior Executives meet to review measures of product and service quality. Ritz-Carlton approach to quality management is characterized by detailed planning. (Jones et al., 2008) Once a month, the General Manager has informal meeting with some employees from different department to know what can be improved. The Ladies and Gentleman are recognized and rewarded for their outstanding customer service both financially and non-financially. A 5 star Award is awarded every quarter. (Anon, n.d.) Hard working and committed ladies and gentleman receive day one benefits such as complimentary meals, post-eligibility benefits such as life insurance and addition benefits such as dental insurance. (Ritz-Carlton, n.d. b)


Symbol used for Apollo is a Greek Temple. The pillars represent the function and division in a role organisation and these are joined managerially at the top to form the board or the management committee. The role, set of duties is fixed and here you do your job, neither more, nor less. (Handy, 1995) Efficiency is meeting the target and the jobs are done effectively without deviating from the procedures. People working in the role culture are aware of their job description and management expectations. (Harrison, 1987)

Ritz-Carlton Hotel has its standards and job descriptions. It begins training at the values and goal levels in order to instill the philosophy of service and dealing with customers. (Donaldson and O'Toole, 2007) The behaviour towards the guest had been detailed and scripted. But now it has changed and one of their services basic is 'When a guest has a problem . . . break away from your regular duties to address and resolve the issue.' (Grönfeldt and Strother, 2006)


Symbol used for this type of culture is a net where the power lies in the interaction of the net. The problem is defined and the appropriate resources are allocated for the solution. Task culture is based on the continuous and successful solution of problem. (Handy, 1995) This kind of culture utilizes the unifying power of the group, bringing together the right resources and people for a problem. (Mullins, 2002) It is build around co-operative group of people without much hierarchy. In this kind of culture, instead of managers, they have the team leaders or coordinators. (Handy, 1993)

Ritz-Carlton carefully selects only those candidates with appropriate caring attitude, one who has right attributes to do the job. There is a 2 day orientation to learn about the Ritz-Carlton culture which is followed by extensive on the job training. (Jones et al., 2008)

The first and the most important duty of the employee are to address and resolve the customer



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