complete “Rehearsal 2.2: The Value of a Cultural Analysis” on p. 21

Answer questions 1 and 2 in 1-2 paragraphs each, reflecting on the usefulness of conducting an ethnography of your organization.

Review the bulleted points below.

  • Provide a picture of major beliefs and values in the organization that influence communication practices and therefore help determine the kinds of communication skills needed in the organization
  • Prompt reflection on the relationship between national and organizational communication patterns and norms
  • Help organizational members see communication practices that go unnoticed, such as important rituals and routines or ways power is exercised for ethical/unethical purposes
  • Create insight for new job orientation and job promotion practices
  • Empower organization members in integrating ethics and values more deeply into organizational structures and practices rather than treating them as superficial training programs that have little effect
  • Assist employees in determining cultural/value fit as they consider employment or service opportunities
  • Improve the change management process by uncovering cultural strengths and potential problem areas
  • Write down the language you would use to capture two potential values of an analysis of your own organization or of the organization you are considering as a focus for an analysis.
  • You might consider possible problems you currently perceive in the organization and describe how a cultural analysis would help you better identify solutions to these problems. Or you might reflect on current changes being considered or implemented and ways a cultural analysis would help in the process of change management.

A five-step process for conducting a cultural analysis

1. Articulate the value of the culture metaphor. The concept of culture needs to be understood beyond the popular business literature on improving corporate culture. Understanding the richness of this concept will help us clearly articulate the value of a cultural analysis for organizations and for ourselves.

2. Define major cultural elements. We review research on and examples of elements such as stories, rules, and heroes. The importance of being aware of these elements is that each one provides a different vantage point on the often hidden aspects of organizational life. Too often an analysis will focus on one element to the exclusion of others.

3. Use multiple data collection methods to understand the elements of culture. We demonstrate the importance of using multiple methods as we focus on observations and systematic analysis of organizational texts to gain a rich data set. Surveys and interviews will also be introduced as alternative, but more obtrusive methods, for both insiders and outsiders. “Obtrusive” means how obvious the research method is to organizational members, thus how likely to alter their behavior.

4. Synthesize and interpret cultural data. You will be challenged to draft an interpretation of an organization. The notion of an interpretation is important in that a culture analysis does not claim to be an objective and neutral video recording. Instead, the analogy we use is that of a dramatic performance, like a play. Two directors may take the same play and stage two very different productions based on different interpretations of the written word. Indeed, the assumption with a cultural analysis is that an objective and neutral cultural recording is impossible. Instead, the individual (or team) works to provide a meaningful, valuable, and valid interpretation.

5. Identify applications. Like any good dramatic interpretation and presentation, an effective cultural analysis should inspire new insights. Again, because this process is not linear, these insights may occur before you have worded your final interpretation. In the final section of the text, you will be challenged to reflect on various application arenas including organizational effectiveness, diversity, change management, symbolic leadership, and ethics.

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