Book Review: Organizational Culture and Leadership


Georges Lteif

Georges Lteif

Software Engineer

Last Updated on May 10, 2022.
Subscribe now to stay posted!
About Us
5 min read


Who Should Read This Book

If your job hinges on understanding and navigating a complex culture and group behaviour, and you are looking to achieve Operational Excellence, this is the book for you.


Synopsis

In this publication, Professor Edgar Schein expands on his original 1999 paper on Organizational Culture into a fascinating book. The latter discusses the emergence, dynamics, and transformation of Organizational Culture and how it brings about the organization’s behaviour, evolution, and survival.

The book has 5 editions. The present review discusses the 3rd edition.

The book is regarded as one of the most influential book on business management and Organizational Culture.

Culture is a very abstract thing and Schein’s monumental work was to turn it into something tangible, measurable, and decipherable.

The book has 19 chapters divided into three parts:

  • Part 1: Organizational Culture and Leadership Defined
  • Part 2: The Dimensions of Culture
  • Part 3: The Leadership Role in Culture Building, Embedding, and Evolving

Part one discusses the emergence of culture in a group, its tangible and observable aspects, and two case examples of different cultures to illustrate the way cultures guide the behaviour of organizations.

The second part of the book breaks down the creational forces of an organization’s culture: the internal integration pressures and the external adaptions ones. This part, in my opinion, was the most interesting as it explains the forces behind the emergence and shaping of Organizational Culture.

The third and final part talks about leadership and its influence on the direction that a culture takes, from emergence to transmission and all the way through transformation and change.

Chapter 18 is particularly interesting as it presents a case study of a major organization going through a cultural transformation.


Key Metrics

Original Content
95%
Practical Usage
80%
Depth
90%
Authority
95%
Writing Style
75%
Accessibility
80%

Quick Review

Highly Recommended

Format

The book is nicely broken down into 3 parts and 19 chapters that are well structured and easy to follow, with each chapter focused on a different aspect of Organizational Culture.

Style

The author’s style flows effortlessly, despite the academic nature of the subject and its presentation. It is very enjoyable to read especially for readers who are new to the topic.

Content

The author is a former professor at MIT and has published many papers on organizational development and culture. His writings derive heavily from his own research and are highly original.


Format

Edition Details

PAPERBACK
Hardcover available

Audio CD | Audible

ISBN-13: 9780787968458
ISBN-10: 0787968455
17.53 x 2.54 x 23.37 cm
437 pages


Themes

  • Management Styles
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Group Formation
  • Group Behaviour
  • Philosophical Aspects of Group Interactions
  • Human Systems
  • Organizational Learning

Content

Structure

The book is divided into 3 parts and 19 chapters. The structure of the book is clear and although the reader has to read the whole book before forming the big picture. This is not uncommon in such complex topics that need a lot of untangling.

Original Content

Although primarily based on the 1990 paper by the author on Organizational Culture, this book heavily relies on a lot of research literature on Organizational Development. Some chapters also derive from real-world projects where the author actively participated and guided his clients through cultural transformations. The book contains the insights that the were gathered from those researches and projects and in this sense, its content is highly original.

General Tone

The general tone of the book varies between lively academic lecturing and recital of success stories in a very engaging manner.

Practical Usage

This book is a MUST-READ for anybody who is on the business management side of the organisation and who has not had a formal training in business management but would like a condensed, yet enjoyable introduction. Most of the material presented in the book is based on the author’s own research as well as his actual projects with his clients. They are perfect examples of typical work scenarios and can be a great source of practical insights.

Depth

The author provides an in-depth analysis of the psychological, behavioural, and cognitive aspects of Organizational Culture. Although not quite a textbook, its thoroughness is more than adequate and this is not only due to the author’s fluency in the topic but also to his style of writing which is condensed yet very accessible. Upon finishing the book, the reader will be left with a feeling of satisfaction in terms of breadth and depth of coverage of the topic.
In fact, the book discusses the lifecycle of Organizational Culture, its different manifestations in the office, the people, and their behaviour, its impact on the future of the organization and finally the role of leadership all around.

Authority

The author spent his career in research as well as helping organizations overcome any culture obstacles in their lifetime. His books and thoughts carry great influence in the field.


Style

Genre

The book can be classified under general interests, business management.

Writing Style

The author’s writing style is clear and concise albeit sometimes a bit dense. Having said that, I had no problem following the chain of thoughts at all times. At some points, it might have felt like a recital of summaries from the literature but that is rare enough to keep the book thoroughly enjoyable.

Accessibility

The book is highly accessible with some technical jargon. It does not assume prior familiarity with advanced psychological or business management concepts and the real-world examples provided throughout the book went a long way in illustrating the theory. The author did a great job in that area.


Author

Bio

From LinkedIn:

Edgar Henry Schein (born March 5, 1928), a former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has made a notable mark on the field of organizational development in many areas, including career development, group process consultation, and organizational culture. He is the son of former University of Chicago professor Marcel Schein.

Publications

  • Coercive Persuasion: A socio-psychological analysis of the “brainwashing” of American civilian prisoners by the Chinese Communists (1961) ISBN 0-393-00613-1
  • Professional Education: Some New Directions (1972) ISBN 0-07-010042-X
  • Career Dynamics (1978) ISBN 0-201-06834-6
  • Organizational Psychology, first published 1965, second edition 1970, third edition 1980 ISBN 0-13-641332-3 [5]
  • The Clinical Perspective in Field Work (1987) ISBN 0-8039-2975-7
  • The Art of Managing Human Resources (Editor, 1987) ISBN 0-19-504882-2
  • Strategic Pragmatism: The Culture of Singapore’s Economic Development Board (1996) ISBN 0-262-19367-1
  • Process Consultation Revisited (1999) ISBN 0-201-34596-X
  • DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation (with Peter S. DeLisi, Paul J. Kampas, and Michael M. Sonduck, 2004), Berrett-Koehler Publishers; ISBN 9781576753057.
  • Procesadvisering (2005) ISBN 90-5261-531-4
  • The Corporate Culture Survival Guide, 2nd Edition (2009) ISBN 978-0-470-29371-3
  • Organizational Culture and Leadership, 4th Edition (2010) ISBN 978-0-470-18586-5
  • Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help (2011), Berrett-Koehler Publishers; ISBN 9781605098562.
  • Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (2013), Berrett-Koehler Publishers; ISBN 9781609949815.
  • Career Anchors, 4th Edition with J. VanMaanen (2013) ISBN 978-1-118-45575-3
  • Organizational Psychology Then and Now: Some ObservationsAnnual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, Vol. 2. (2015)