Competitive Strategies

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The culture of a particular corporate organization profoundly affects the corporation’s overall performance. Heskett (2011) argues that adopting an appropriate corporate culture may enhance productivity by as much as twenty to thirty percent. Coleman (2013) suggests the principal elements that comprise a successful corporate culture are vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place. How these elements are incorporated into the general company culture of a business organization will, of course, vary widely. Numerous identifiable models of contending corporate cultures exist. Coleman (2013) observes that the process of selecting the most efficient model will need to include an assessment of multiple variables. According to Coleman, these variables may include geographical location, choosing specific employment positions based on cultural adaptability, and implementing methods for receiving feedback.

A pioneering study into the variations of corporate culture was conducted by Hofstede (1980). Through his examination of more than one hundred thousand employees of fifty different IBM corporate centers, and in multiple countries, Hofstede found that particular geographical regions tend to contain within themselves specifically identifiable corporate cultures. These variations can be described in several primary ways. One of these is “power distance” and involves the degree to which a particular culture emphasizes subordination and hierarchy. Corporate organizations with such a culture will likely demonstrate an authoritarian set of institutional structures. Other variables identified by Hofstede were uncertainty avoidance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, and long term compared to short term orientation.

O’Reilly, Chatman, and Caldwell (1991) attempted to identify contending variables which define a specific corporate culture in the same manner as Hofstede, but offered a different set of variables. These are innovation, stability, maintaining respect for people, outcome orientation, paying attention to detail, team orientation, and aggressiveness. By contrast, the variables suggested by Denison (1990) are mission, adaptability, involvement, and consistency. The particular model adopted by an individual corporation will normally reflect one of these generalized sets of institutional orientations, though the variations concerning which characteristic receives the most emphasis will differ widely.

Some corporate cultures will emphasize the corporation’s overall vision. Coleman, for instance, offers the example of how Oxfam envisions “a world without poverty” and the Alzheimer's Association envisions “a world without Alzheimer's” (Coleman, 2013). Other corporations might focus on their particular set of corporate values. These values include ordinary standards of behavior with regards to how to deal with the customer experience or clients, and how to interact with co-workers. Google, for example, has as its primary focus a combination of emphasis on personal ethics, and a commitment to an objective examination of facts in the pursuit of truth. Wegman’s is considered by Fortune to be one of the top companies to work for, and this is largely because of the corporation’s cultural emphasis on creating a pleasant and hospitable environment for employees.

Still, other corporate cultures place their primary emphasis on the recruitment, training, and retention of quality personnel. Ellis (2011) observes that corporations with this kind of focus will also normally orient themselves toward the recruitment of employees who are suitable for their own corporate cultures. Another particularly interesting feature of corporate culture is the narrative which helps to form the corporation’s identity. Coleman (2013) describes how the Coca-Cola company, for instance, maintains a museum that details the history of the corporation and its products. In a similar vein, the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam offers tours of its facilities to the public, including free samples of the corporation’s product. Still another interesting aspect of corporate culture involves the manner in which the organization’s principal institutional representatives present themselves to the public at large. As an illustration, there is the example of celebrity businessmen such as Donald Trump, or philanthropists such as Bill Gates. Clearly, the variations to be found within corporate culture are immense.


Coleman, J. (2013). Six components of a great corporate culture. Harvard Business Review Blog Network. Retrieved from

Denison, D. R. (1990) Corporate culture and organizational effectiveness. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.

Ellis, C. (2013). What it takes: Seven secrets of success from the world’s greatest professionalfirms. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.

Heskett, J. L. (2011). The culture cycle: How to shape the unseen force that transforms performance. London: Financial Times Press.

Hofstede, G. (1980) Culture's consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications.

O’Reilly, R., Chatman, D. & Caldwell, M. (1991). People and organizational culture: A profile comparison approach to assessing person-organization fit. Academy of Management Journal, 34, 487–516