What Is the Relationship between Organizational Culture and Effectiveness?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

The relationship between organizational culture and effectiveness is often identified as being a cause and effect situation. Essentially, this view holds that the culture found within a business, non-profit, or other type of organization will have a direct impact on how well the entity is able to meet its stated goals. The careful cultivation of a culture that is nurturing, encourages interaction between those participating in the operation, and fosters the establishment of an environment that is considered positive will in turn lead to a high level of effectiveness.

Organizational culture in companies can help set the tone for employee performance and productivity.
Organizational culture in companies can help set the tone for employee performance and productivity.

One of the ways that organizational culture and effectiveness are bound together is that neither can really remain unchanged without the input of the other. The culture of the organization must be conducive to promoting creativity, encouraging productivity on the part of those involved with the organization, and provide logical and reasonable policies and procedures to aid people in achieving the stated goals. At the same time, unless the efforts of those involved are generating the desired results, the organizational culture will of necessity have to change, either to adjust to new realities or in an effort to provide increased incentive to work toward those stated goals. In many organizations, this means the particulars of what compose the culture and help determine the effectiveness of the organization do change with some regularity, prompting the need to always look for ways to hang onto that which works while being willing to adapt or change that which is no longer useful.

In the best of circumstances, the relationship between organizational culture and effectiveness is exemplified by routinely reaching goals and possibly even exceeding them. For example, in a factory setting in which employees feel empowered to offer suggestions and enjoy healthy dialogue with coworkers and supervisors, chances are that creative ideas on how to increase production without resulting in a decrease of quality will be developed. Within this culture, the potential to implement new ideas will often lead to employees who feel more invested in the company and its success, and choose to go above and beyond the minimum required to make that happen. The end result of understanding the link between organizational culture and effectiveness is a welcoming sense in the workplace that encourages attendance and decreases absenteeism, and also leads to more efficient completion of tasks during the working day.

There is no way to avoid the reality of a strong relationship between organizational culture and effectiveness within that culture. Creating the right environment, both in terms of procedures and the selection of participants, can go a long way toward making any situation more pleasant and productive for everyone concerned. While sometimes more of a goal than a reality, it is possible to incrementally adjust an organizational culture so that it does become more effective over time, with those changes sometimes occurring so discreetly that participants don’t really notice them until the impact begins to be felt throughout the organization.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@fify-- I don't think I agree.

How can employees fulfill their duties and achieve more than they are expected to achieve if the organization is dysfunctional? If communication is poor between departments, between employees and between employees and superiors, how can anyone expect that organization to work effectively? And unfortunately, many of these issues like barriers to communication are a result of the organizational culture.


This relationship between organizational culture and effectiveness, is a topic that is being researched. I saw a study on it recently and the outcome was that the two are connected, but attitudes of employees play a role as well.

I think what the study is implying is that whether organizational culture increases or decreases organizational effectiveness depends on the attitudes and behaviors of the employees. So if an organization is functioning ineffectively, we can't directly say "let's change the organizational culture and that will fix it." We have to look at the big picture which also means observing how employee attitudes affect organizational culture.

After all, organizational culture is not just about the procedures that directors set up. It's also about how the employees do things in the organization.


There is no doubt that organizational culture plays a big part in effectiveness. But I don't think that if an organization is not very effective, the whole blame rests on the organizational culture. I think that's just one factor.

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