The discriminant validity of a culture assessment instrument: a comparison of company sub-cultures.

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dc.contributor.author Petkoon, Leopold John
dc.date.accessioned 2007-12-06T05:50:17Z
dc.date.available 2007-12-06T05:50:17Z
dc.date.issued 2007-12-06T05:50:17Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/135
dc.description.abstract The point of departure of this study is that a need for a valid and reliable culture as-sessment instrument exists, especially in the South African context with its variety of cultures. Such an instrument can provide valuable insight into the culture of a com-pany, which is crucial if it wants to compete successfully in today’s competitive global economy. In South Africa in particular, a host of transformational imperatives add a unique degree of complexity to understanding company culture. Literature Research The theoretical research objectives of the study focus on the ontology, epistemology and methodologies in respect of the construct “organisational culture”. A review of the literature reveals that the construct “organisational culture” is characterised by competing definitions, epistemologies and research paradigms. Controversies exist about virtually all aspects of this construct including the mechanics and extent of its contribution to organisational performance. The literature confirms, that questionnaires can play an important role in the quanti-tative analysis of organisational culture (Reichers & Schneider, 1990; Rousseau, 1990). However quantitative assessment of organisational culture has been criti-cised because of a strong mono-method bias in the field. There is thus a need for a multilevel and multi-method conceptualisation. In this respect, Schein’s (1985) three level typology provides a distinctive role for both quantitative and qualitative meas-urement. Empirical Research Objective The primary objective of the empirical research was to determine the ability of the Culture Assessment Instrument of Martins (1989) to validly and reliably distinguish sub-cultures within a specific organisation as well as differences between the culture of a transport organisation and a norm group of different companies representative of various industries. In other words to determine the discriminant validity of the Cul-ture Assessment Instrument. Participants For this study two sets of data were used. The primary data were obtained from a sample drawn from a transport organisation. It yielded 593 responses. The majority of respondents are white, male, and in the age group 36 - 45. The secondary data set consists of a convenience sample of 4066 participants from five different com-panies from various industries. The majority of respondents are white, male, and in the age group 25 – 35. The Measuring Instrument The Culture Assessment Instrument of Martins (1989), the focus of this study, con-sists of six dimensions, covering both the internal and external environments. The internal environment entails five organisational systems, whilst the external environ-ment entails different stakeholder groups. Although the latest version of the instru-ment consists of 89 items, only the 56 items that were common to all the companies in the sample were included in the study. These 56 items are proportionally repre-sentative of the six dimensions. The Research Procedure The primary data set was obtained from a sample drawn from a transport organisa-tion, whilst the secondary data was built from data gathered from participating com-panies over the last few years. The primary and secondary data were originally gathered mainly with a view to improve the performance of the specific companies. The aim of gathering the information was thus the same in all the cases. Statistical analysis The particular statistical procedures were selected for their suitability to test the re-search hypotheses of the study. These procedures include descriptive statistics, fac-tor analyses, analyses of variance and measures of association. In respect of factor analyses a procedure developed by Schepers (1992) was followed. This procedure includes first as well as second level factor analyses. The Statistical Consultation Service of the Rand Afrikaans University conducted the analyses. All calculations were done by means of the SPSS- Windows program of SPSS - International. Conclusions and Recommendations The empirical findings of the study did not support the expectations of the study. It was expected that the instrument would identify significant differences in sub-cultures within a specific transport organisation as well as between that company and a norm group of companies. It did not. Only a small portion of the variance in differences in mean culture scores within the company as well as between the vari-ous companies could be attributed to differences in culture. On these grounds it was concluded that the Culture Assessment Instrument of Martins (1989) does not pos-sess discriminant validity. However, it was found that the instrument is highly reliable and assessed the com-munalities between companies very well. These communalities are mainly at sur-face level – the level of artefacts and creations with reference to Schein’s (1985) three-level typology. At this level companies may appear to have similar cultures. The reason for this phenomenon is that companies readily embrace the popular management tools and practices in their effort to cope with the fast changing busi-ness environment. There is a possibility that the Culture Assessment Instrument de-tected the outcome of these practices which are common to most companies. Emanating from the findings of the literature and the empirical research of this study, it is recommended that further research be undertaken to operationalise the con-struct “organisational culture” at the deeper levels, which are the levels of tacit val-ues, taken for granted assumptions and basic beliefs. The author believes that with proper operationalisation at the more fundamental levels it will be possible to suc-cessfully distinguish cultures between companies from the positivistic paradigm. Finally, it is recommended that the application of the Culture Assessment Instrument be supplemented with methods from the interpretative paradigm for a more compre-hensive view on the culture of a company. A comprehensive culture profiling proc-ess would aid a guided evolution of company culture in contrast to introducing popu-lar behavioural stimuli that tend to affect the surface level of culture only. en
dc.description.sponsorship Prof. Gert Roodt en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject diversity in the workplace en
dc.subject corporate culture en
dc.title The discriminant validity of a culture assessment instrument: a comparison of company sub-cultures. en
dc.type Thesis en

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