Organizational Culture Change: Theory and Practice

Course Number
DYNM 661 001
Course Code
Course Key
Non-DYNM students:
Primary Program
Course Note
DYNM Category: A; DYNM Concentration: LMC.
Course Description
The importance of organizational culture as a factor that can influence organizational performance either positively or negatively gained renewed attention beginning in the mid-1990s.  The success of high-profile firms with “quirky cultures” such as Southwest Airlines and the entrepreneurial cultures of high tech firms that, along with the rise of interest in companies that have created "Great Places to Work," with associated awards programs have generated recognition that organizational culture can be a major factor contributing to organizational performance. The related emergence of “high performance organizations,” acknowledgment that organization culture can trump the implementation of organizational strategy, competition among companies to attract the best employees, and the failure of many financially promising mergers and acquisitions all pointed to the importance of understanding and intentionally managing organizational culture.
More recently, events related to the MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter have focused our attention on the degree to which all members of an organization are welcomed, respected, valued and heard along with having an equal opportunity to succeed on the merits of their performance rather than be judged on their identity. The renewed awareness has called long overdue attention to the fact that life within many organizations has been deeply inequitable. This course will address how organizations can change deep rooted cultures that favor some groups over others when those who most need to change and who control the changes that will be made are benefitting from the culture the way it is. We will also consider the relationship that formal policies and informal practices have on reinforcing or shifting cultures as well as the daily form of interactions among organization members that may be ignored. We will discuss what is meant by having an “inclusive” culture and how organizations can become more inclusive and equitable. Only when inequities are effectively addressed can an organization achieve high performance that is sustainable over time.

Organizational cultures change for better or worse when an organization is faced with a crisis.  COVID19 has had a substantial impact on many organizations. The response of each organization’s leaders has either reinforced the culture of the organization or revealed underlying values different from those that have been espoused. We will examine how leaders’ behaviors in a crisis support or change culture.

This course also will address many of the major debates about organizational culture as well as provide students with tools for better assessing and understanding organizational culture, and leading and managing culture change.  Course material and discussions will consistently address issues related to both theory and practice with particular attention to how these apply to current issues impacting organizations.
Subject Area Vocab