ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE OF GREEK BANKING INSTITUTIONS: INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

During the last decades, changing social values led the researchers to focus to what is called “human resources management”. The effect of this has been to alter, broadly, the core values accepted by industry in its dealing with employees. Organizational culture is one of the core elements of a successive organization. The term “organizational culture” entered the management literature in the late 70’s. Later, it became “corporate culture”, a term which gained popularity after the work of Peter and Waterman (1982), and Deal and Kennedy (1988). Their fundamental ideas suggest that strong and functional corporate culture contributes to business success.

In order for an organization to be successful both external and internal environment should be considered. Organizational culture is an important internal environmental aspect and a key concept that can lead an organization either to success or to failure. Evidence has shown that organizational culture expresses the internal environment of an organization and reflects the extent of agreement between managers and employees beliefs, values and assumptions (Aycan et al 1999). Analysis of the organizational culture, helps identify the structure of the organization and the values of the employees, essential elements in the implementation of leadership and management practices.

There have been many attempts to describe the term “organizational culture”. An early description of organizational culture was given by Silversweig and Allen (1976), as ‘a set of expected behaviors that are generally supported within the group’ (p.33). Denison (1984) pointed out that organizational culture represents the set of norms, shared beliefs and behavior style in an organization. Probably, one of the most detailed and comprehensive definition is presented by Schein (1985).

According to him, “Organizational culture is the pattern of basic assumptions that a group has invented, or discovered in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems” (p. 3). Hofstede (2001) treats culture as the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. Others consider culture “as a system of shared values …” (Deshpande & Webster 1989; Ravasi and Schoultz 2006; Xiaoming & Junchen 2012).

Since organizational culture represents all those normative elements that “glue” together or detaches the members of an organization, consequently it affects the operationalization of the organization. So, besides scholars, organizational culture has also draw the attention of companies and managers. The importance of culture for managements lies in the fact that culture may constrain business organization or management practice, may create opportunities as well as affect advertising, marketing and product development (Blake and Laurence 1989). The importance of organizational culture was highlighted by Peters and Waterman (1982), who pointed out that the key features of successful companies are mainly cultural, that is they are about values, commitment and states of mind. These shared values by people in a group, can be so strong and persistent, that continue to exist even when the membership of the group has changed (Kotter and Heskett 1992).

There have been many attempts to classify organizations according to their type of organizational culture. It is widely acknowledged though, the difficulty in identifying a typology of organizational cultures, since it’s difficult to ‘categorize’ shared assumptions and beliefs of individuals. The most notable efforts were made by Cameron and Quinn (2006), Deal and Kennedy (1982), Denison et al (2004), Handy (1990), Harrison (1972), and Xenikou and Furnham (1996). It was found that many studies of organizational cultures share many common characteristics and that is why there is a considerable overlap in the dimensions found in these studies. For many researchers, organizational culture provides the link between corporate success and effective and efficient organization (The applicable school, e.g., Peters and Waterman 1982; Kanter 1984; Reynolds 1986; Whipp et al 1989). Others suggest that organizational culture is a multivariate phenomenon and the various factors which comprise the concept must be isolated and identified (The analytical school, e.g., Beyer and Trice 1987; Deal and Kennedy 1982; Pettigrew 1979; Trice and Beyer 1984).

The assessment of the organizational culture in the banking sector is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, the banking sector worldwide is being on the threshold of significant structural and organizational changes and innovations. This transition from the conservative and hierarchical form to a more flexible and innovative one, is not an easy process (Theriou et al 2007). The assessment of the organizational culture, may help to this direction, assisting the establishment of the changes, either organizational-structural or technological (Cabrera et al 2001; Kanungo et al 2001; Nielson et al 2006). Secondly, top managers can detect mismatches between the present organizational culture and the culture they desire to be. In addition, this assessment may help them to better design a potential change either in the culture of the institution or in an administrative manner (Cabrera et al. 2001) or even more in a better processing of a merger (Jones 2008).

Empirical evidence has shown that the assessment of organizational culture is significant since can effect employees job satisfaction (Aldhuwaihi et al 2011; Koustelios 1991), job performance and organizational change (Ojo 2009). Furthermore, organization culture was found to be strongly associated with organizational leadership corporate performance (Wilderom et al 2012; Xiaoming and Junchen 2012), knowledge acquisition and organizational learning (Liao et al 2012). Other researchers studied the relationship between certain demographic variables and organizational culture, e.g., gender (Chen et al 2008; Dwyer et al 2003). To our knowledge, research regarding organization cultures in Greece, is limited. The purpose of the current study is to examine the current and preferred employees’ perceptions of organizational culture of a certain bank in Greece.