Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Dunctionally embodied culture: Cultural schemas and models in a diversified industrial manufacturer
by White, David Gaylord, Jr., Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2015, 364; 3746293
Abstract (Summary)

Organizational culture is in need of new paradigms. As an ontological category it is flawed because the lack of academic consensus on what culture is tends to render it inadequate as an explanatory framework. As a field of praxis managers and practitioners tend to oversimplify culture, reducing it to one or two variables such as idealized norms or values, or as personality-writ-large. This leads to failed organizational culture change efforts, usually at great cost and effort as organizations fail to adapt beyond surface effects. Against these notions a new paradigm for organizational culture is proposed. Cognitive science, specifically embodied and situated cognition, analogically based reasoning, and cultural schemas provide a robust way to conceptualize and investigate culture. It is proposed culture is loosely but distinctively ecologically determined, underwritten by human cognition grounded in the functional, technological, and social forces inherent in work, and the production of meaning related to work. This paper advances a theory of culture as shared cognitive models by which groups derive meaning and organize sensemaking. Under the right conditions such models may make up the organization’s dominant culture. This dissertation provides theory and research describing a so-called functionally embodied organizational culture framework. It investigates the shared schemas and cultural models of the executive team of a global, diversified Fortune 1000 manufacturer. Preliminary support for functional grounding is seen: Schemas rooted in the strategic task environment of manufacturing make up the cultural models for people leadership and business management, lending preliminary support to functionally grounded culture. Implications for current theory and practice are discussed, along with avenues for future research. One implication is that popular approaches to culture and change utilizing top-down, espoused, and idealized norms and values may not be sufficient to dislodge prevailing shared cognitions rooted in dominant professional orientations or strategic context.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Silverman, Robert J.
Commitee: Agger-Gupta, Dorothy E., Steier, Frederick, Strauss, Claudia, Sukovaty, Beckey D.
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: Human and Organization Development
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Organization Theory, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Cultural models, Culture change, Occupational culture, Organizational culture, Schemas, Sense making
Publication Number: 3746293
ISBN: 9781339395814
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