Objective. Teams have cultures that are similar to and different from the cultures of their organizations. It is essential to know both types of cultures because teams encounter difficulties when their cultures are too much at variance with the organization’s culture. Cultures vary on the following four dimensions. In individualist cultures, people seek individual achievement and recognition, whereas collectivist cultures value the ties between people, and self-interest is subordinate to that of the group. In high-power cultures, people show great respect to higher-status people and feel uncomfortable challenging authority; low-power cultures take a more egalitarian view and are less willing to accept authority. In risk-avoidance cultures, people value stability and group harmony, whereas people in risk-taking cultures are action-oriented and willing to take risks. In control-oriented cultures, leaders attempt to monitor and control the behavior of subordinates, whereas leaders in commitment- oriented cultures are facilitators who guide and motivate subordinates.

Activity. Discuss with members of an existing team their team’s culture and the culture of the organization of which the team is part. The existing teams can be either work teams or student teams at a university. Use the rating form to note the team and organization’s culture on the four dimensions.

Analysis. How similar are the team’s and the organization’s cultures? On which dimensions do the team and organization have culture gaps? What problems can occur when there are differences between the team’s and the organization’s cultures?

Discussion. Why is it important for a team’s culture to be compatible with its organization’s culture? If the organization’s culture has difficulty supporting teamwork, what should a team do?


Evaluating a Team and Organization’s Culture

Rate the Team by placing a “T” on the scale below; rate the Organization by placing an “O” on the scale.

Individualism ——————————————————– Collectivism

High Power ———————————————————- Low Power

Risk Avoidance —————————————————– Risk Taking

Control Oriented ————————————————— Commitment Oriented