4 Organisational cultures
Introduction: defining culture
The concept of culture has become increasingly significant in education during the 1990s and into the twenty-first century. This enhanced interest may be understood as an example of dissatisfaction with the limitations of those leadership and man- agement models which stress the structural and technical aspects of schools and colleges. The focus on the intangible world of values and attitudes is a useful counter to these bureaucratic assumptions and helps to produce a more balanced portrait of educational institutions.
Culture relates to the informal aspects of organisations rather then their official elements. They focus on the values, beliefs and norms of individuals in the organi- sation and how these individual perceptions coalesce into shared meanings. Culture is manifested by symbols and rituals rather than through the formal structure of the organization:
Beliefs, values and ideology are at the heart of organisations. Individuals hold certain ideas and value-preferences which influence how they behave and how they view the behaviour of other members. These norms become shared traditions which are communicated within the group and are rein- forced by symbols and ritual. (Bush 2003, p.156).
The developing importance of culture arises partly from a wish to understand, and operate more effectively within, this informal domain of the values and beliefs of teachers, support staff and other stakeholders. Morgan (1997) and O'Neill (1994) both stress the increasing significance of cultural factors in leadership and manage- ment. The latter charts the appearance of cultural 'labels' and suggests why they have become more prevalent:
The increased use of such cultural descriptors in the literature of educational management is significant because it reflects a need for educational organiza- tions to be able to articulate deeply held and shared values in more tangible ways and therefore respond more effectively to new,