Reflecting the swing away from ""rational,"" analytical approaches to management, and toward humanistic modes of approach,...


CORPORATE CULTURES: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life

Reflecting the swing away from ""rational,"" analytical approaches to management, and toward humanistic modes of approach, Harvard education professor Deal and management consultant Kennedy hypothesize that the most successful American companies--from IBM and Procter & Gamble to Mary Leu Cosmetics--generate a strong internal culture that gives employees and management a distinct identity, mutual values and goals, and so on, all reinforced by ""rituals"" and ""heroes."" (""Managers like Harold Geneen are captured by an ethic of survival. . . . Heroes, by contrast, are driven by an ethic of creation."") Four major cultural ""tribes"" are identified: the tough-guy, or macho (individualists who take high risks, with quick feedback, like those in the entertainment or publishing business); the work hard/play hard types (action is the byword, and risks are minimal); the bet-your-company cultures (high stakes, slow feedback, like the oil industries); and the ""process"" cultures (government bureaucracies, banks, etc.)--where the emphasis is on how things are done, because very little is actually risked and feedback is hard to come by. A company's cultural style can be diagnosed, the authors aver, through such tools as slogans (IBM's slogan pertains to service, and that places it squarely in the work hard/play hard culture, where values center on customers and their needs.) In the future, they foresee ""atomized"" (decentralized) business organization, where ""culture"" will be an even stronger determinant of success. (Some signs: franchising, divestiture, spin-offs.) Deal and Kennedy are skilled at charting the course of cultural development within a variety of corporate climes, and their documentation from their personal consultancies is impressive The public record also suggests that there's a good deal to what they say--which, in any case, makes fascinating, provocative reading.

Pub Date: June 28, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1982