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10 Types of Organizational Culture: Pros, Cons, and Examples

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Just as an individual's personality shapes their behavior and reactions in different situations, different types of organizational culture guide how employees behave within the company.

With culture playing such a vital role in the organization, business leaders must understand the types of organizational culture to determine which aligns best with their vision, values, and goals.

In this blog, we will explore the various types of culture found in an organization, along with their advantages, disadvantages, and real-world examples. Understanding these distinct culture models can provide valuable insights to help leaders shape an empowering workplace.

Key Takeaways

  • What is Organizational culture?
  • Understanding the Types of Organizational Culture
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Organizational Culture
  • How to Identify Your Organizational Culture?
  • How to Choose the Right Organizational Culture for your Company?

What is Organizational culture?

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According to Research, 46% of job seekers nowadays mainly seek job opportunities in companies with a solid organizational culture.

Organizational culture represents the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that define a company.

It governs how employees interact, make decisions, and perceive their roles within the organization.

Organizational culture plays a crucial role in shaping the behavior of employees within the organization, influencing how they communicate, make decisions, and approach their work.

4 Main Types of Organizational Culture

1. Clan Culture

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Clan Culture is like being part of a big, friendly family at work. Employees are seen as part of a tight-knit family where mutual support, mentorship, and cooperation are encouraged.

It is characterized by a strong sense of belonging, collaboration, and shared values among its members.

Advantages of Clan Culture

  • Clan culture has the ability to engage and retain top talent. When employees feel like they are part of a family, they are more likely to be committed to the organization.

  • Gives emphasis on teamwork and open communication. It promotes a collaborative environment where employees work together efficiently.

  • Clan culture reinforces a strong sense of organizational identity and shared values. When employees identify with the company's mission and values, it promotes a cohesive brand image and reputation.

Disadvantages of Clan Culture

  • Clan Culture can sometimes become resistant to innovation and change due to its strong emphasis on tradition and stability.

  • One downside of the closely-knit relationships within clan culture is the potential for favoritism.

  • Due to decentralized decision-making in clan culture, there is often a lack of accountability.

Example of Clan Culture

The Walt Disney Company is known for its family-friendly brand. They work towards creating an inclusive atmosphere where employees are often referred to as "cast members." This reinforces the idea that they are all part of a larger family working toward a common goal.

2. Adhocracy Culture

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Adhocracy Culture is often referred to as a dynamic or creative culture due to its flexible and forward-thinking approach.

In this type of organizational culture, the traditional hierarchy is replaced by a flexible system that empowers employees to make decisions independently.

Advantages of Adhocracy Culture

  • Adhocracy Culture fosters innovation and creativity by encouraging employees to experiment with new ideas and think outside the box.

  • It embraces change and helps organizations adapt to new markets and customer needs in the constantly changing world.

  • In Adhocracy Culture, decision-making is decentralized. This allows organizations to make quick decisions without the bureaucratic hurdles of traditional structures.

Disadvantages of Adhocracy Culture

  • Adhocracy Culture, with its emphasis on flexibility and autonomy, can sometimes lack the stability and structure that many employees crave.

  • Empowering employees to make decisions independently may unintentionally foster resistance to authority. This can make it difficult for leaders to maintain consistency in decision-making.

  • Adhocracy Culture encourages taking risks and embracing uncertainty, which can sometimes result in poor decision-making.

Example of Adhocracy Culture

The tech giant Google is famous for its adhocracy culture. The company's "20 percent time" policy allows employees to spend one day a week to work on projects that interest them.

Through this policy, Google encourages innovation and empowers employees to explore new ideas.

3. Market Culture

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Market culture revolves around maximizing profitability and maintaining a competitive edge. This culture is marked by its outcome-driven approach. Getting the job done is the number one priority in this type of company culture.

Organizations with market culture seek growth, innovation, and adaptability in an ever-evolving business landscape. It gives significant emphasis on customer satisfaction, competition, and efficiency.

Advantages of Market Culture

  • Employees are encouraged to go the extra mile and to take on challenging projects to continuously improve their skills.

  • Organizations with a strong market culture are more agile and responsive to changing market conditions.

  • In Market culture, employees understand their roles and responsibilities clearly, which reduces confusion and enhances overall productivity.

Disadvantages of Market Culture

  • The intense focus on results in market cultures can sometimes may result in employees experiencing burnout due to long working hours and a lack of work-life balance.

  • Market cultures may prioritize short-term goals over long-term employee development in pursuit of profit.

  • A strong focus on meeting targets and deadlines can sometimes lead to inconsistent product or service quality.

Example of Market Culture

Amazon is a prime example of a company with a strong market culture. The company is intensely customer-focused, which reflects its commitment to the market. Amazon's competitive and results-oriented approach has made it a dominant player in the e-commerce platform.

4. Hierarchy Culture

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The Hierarchy Culture is one of the most prevalent and enduring cultures in the corporate world. This culture type is characterized by a well-defined chain of command and standardized system.

The primary objective of a hierarchy culture is to ensure that the organization operates with precision and efficiency. This type of culture is favored by traditional companies that rely on established structures and well-defined systems to ensure effective operations.

Advantages of Hierarchy Culture

  • In a hierarchical culture, duties are clearly defined, and operations are more streamlined due to its structured chain of command.

  • Employees feel more secure and can see a clear progression from one role to another. This makes it easier for them to set goals, develop skills, and plan their professional growth.

  • It promotes efficient decision-making since the decisions are typically made by those with the most expertise or authority in a given area.

Disadvantages of Hierarchy Culture

  • Employees may feel less empowered to voice new ideas, which may stifle creativity and innovation in the workplace.

  • Employees in a strict hierarchy culture may become disengaged and disinterested in their work due to limited involvement in decision-making.

  • Hierarchy culture can create communication barriers, hindering the open exchange of ideas and feedback among employees and teams.

Example of Hierarchy Culture

The multinational technology and consulting company IBM can be cited as an example of an organization with a strong hierarchy culture. It has a well-established organizational structure with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

6 Secondary Types of Organizational Culture

1. Purpose Culture

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A purpose culture is a strategic approach in which a company strongly commits to doing something meaningful and positive. It goes beyond profit-making and instead emphasizes making a meaningful difference in the world.

In purpose culture, the company’s core values and mission drive the culture. It's about focusing on a higher mission or cause that becomes a central part of the company's identity and how it operates.

Advantages of Purpose Culture

  • Companies with a purpose culture are often more innovative and adaptable due to their willingness to solve real-world problems.

  • Employees in a purpose-driven organization often experience higher job satisfaction, which can reduce employee turnover rates and increase productivity.

  • A company with a purpose culture is more committed to sustainability and tends to build a strong reputation as a responsible and conscious organization.

Disadvantages of Purpose Culture

  • Achieving a balance between profit and purpose can be challenging.

  • Not everyone within the organization may share the same values and sense of purpose, leading to potential conflicts or resistance to change.

  • Pursuing a purpose culture can sometimes be financially challenging, as it may require investments that do not yield returns.

Example of Purpose Culture

Patagonia is a well-known outdoor clothing and gear company that is famous for its purpose-driven culture. Its mission statement, "We're in business to save our home planet," reflects its strong purpose.

Patagonia is dedicated to environmental sustainability, ethical sourcing, and activism to protect the environment.

2. Accountability Culture

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According to a study, organizations with strong accountability cultures have 31% higher employee productivity.

Accountability culture in an organization is being clear and accountable about one's own actions, decisions, and results. It involves clear expectations and goals.

In an accountability culture, individuals are held responsible for their performance and are expected to take ownership of their duties and responsibilities. This culture encourages transparency and honesty.

Advantages of Accountability Culture

  • Employees feel responsible for the organization's success and are motivated to contribute new ideas.

  • Accountability encourages employees to pay attention to detail and deliver quality work. They are more committed to their tasks and projects.

  • Organizations with an accountability culture benefit from increased employee engagement, performance, and productivity.

Disadvantages of Accountability Culture

  • Employees may feel too much pressure or burnout due to constant pressure to perform and deliver results.

  • The constant focus on accountability and performance can overshadow other aspects of job satisfaction, such as personal and professional growth.

  • Employees may become fearful of making mistakes or taking calculated risks due to the fear of negative consequences.

Example of Accountability Culture

FedEx, a multinational courier delivery services company, has a culture of accountability, especially when it comes to customer service. The company holds employees accountable for their performance, and it is known for its strong focus on operational excellence.

3. Learning Culture

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Learning culture focuses on research, creativity, and innovation. It actively encourages continuous learning, growth, and development among its employees.

This culture promotes open communication, experimentation, and a willingness to embrace new ideas and perspectives. In a learning culture, employees are motivated and supported to acquire new knowledge and skills in order to improve their performance.

Advantages of Learning Culture

  • Learning culture empowers employees to continuously expand their knowledge and skills, enabling personal and professional development.

  • Continuous learning sharpens problem-solving skills in employees, making them more effective in their roles.

  • Employees in a learning culture are more likely to be innovative, creative, and full of alternate approaches that can benefit the organization.

Disadvantages of Learning Culture

  • Constant learning and development expectations can overwhelm employees to keep up, which in turn may impact their work-life balance.

  • Maintaining a learning culture can strain organizational budgets, as it requires significant investments in resources, training, and development programs.

  • Overemphasis on learning can lead to inefficiency if employees spend too much time acquiring knowledge and not enough time applying it.

Example of Learning Culture

The professional networking platform LinkedIn actively supports learning culture in its organization. The company provides learning resources to its employees, giving employees access to a wide range of courses on professional development.

Organizations with strong learning cultures invest an average of $1500 more per employee annually on training and development programs. (Source: Kaltura)

4. Feedback Culture

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Feedback culture refers to the organizational culture in which giving and receiving feedback is encouraged and considered an integral part of the company culture.

In a feedback culture, team members are encouraged to express their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fearing reprisal. This promotes transparency and trust within the organization.

Advantages of Feedback Culture

  • Feedback culture improves communication and collaboration within teams. Misunderstandings are reduced, and employees work together more effectively, leading to better results.

  • Employees have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This enables them to seek proper training in order to reach their full potential.

  • In a feedback culture, employees are free to share their thoughts and suggestions, which opens the door to fresh ideas and innovation.

Disadvantages of Feedback Culture

  • Employees may find frequent feedback stressful. The fear of criticism can lead to anxiety and, in some cases, a decrease in performance.

  • Over time, employees may become desensitized to feedback, leading to "feedback fatigue." This can result in them becoming less responsive to constructive suggestions.

  • Implementing and maintaining a feedback culture may require additional resources like feedback tools, which can strain the organization's budget.

Example of Feedback Culture

Sales software company HubSpot emphasizes a feedback culture through its weekly one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers. They also encourage peer feedback, creating an environment of transparency and self-improvement.

5. Coaching Culture

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Coaching culture goes beyond traditional management techniques, emphasizing ongoing guidance, mentorship, and employee professional development.

An organization with a coaching culture places emphasis on the development of its employees and teams to help them reach their full potential.

Advantages of Coaching Culture

  • In a coaching culture, employees are equipped with the necessary skills and resources they need to excel. As a result, performance levels increase, driving positive outcomes for the organization.

  • Employees are provided with personalized guidance. This tailored approach ensures that they receive the specific support they need to succeed in their roles.

  • It helps employees build the necessary skills needed to adapt to changing work environments and be more resilient in the face of challenges.

Disadvantages of Coaching Culture

  • Establishing a coaching culture demands significant time and financial resources, including training, coaching programs, and dedicated personnel.

  • Employees might feel that a coaching culture restricts their independence and decision-making abilities, making them feel micromanaged.

  • The structured nature of a coaching culture can limit employees' flexibility in choosing their own developmental path.

Example of Coaching Culture

Adobe is well-known for its coaching culture, where managers coach and mentor their employees. They have a program called "Check-In," which focuses on supporting employees' growth and career progression through practical coaching interactions.

6. Authority Culture

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According to a study, companies with Authority culture have leaders who know themselves and where they are going.

In an Authority culture, power and control are concentrated in the hands of a select few individuals or institutions. Organizations with an authority culture are characterized by a strong emphasis on hierarchical control and centralized decision-making.

Advantages of Authority Culture

  • Authority figures are empowered to make choices swiftly, which can be crucial in emergencies or high-stakes situations.

  • Authority cultures often feature well-defined structures and hierarchies, which clarify roles and responsibilities.

  • In an Authority Culture, there is an inherent expectation of compliance with established rules and norms. This can instill discipline and order, ensuring that employees within the system follow guidelines and procedures consistently.

Disadvantages of Authority Culture

  • Employees are less inclined to suggest new ideas or alternate approaches as they are expected to follow orders and not question authority.

  • Suppressing dissent and critical thinking can lead to resentment and frustration among employees who may not agree with the decisions or actions of those in authority.

  • In an Authority culture, there is a risk of corruption, discrimination, and unethical behavior since authority figures are not held accountable.

Example of Authority Culture

Government agencies involved in law enforcement, defense, or regulatory functions often maintain authority cultures. Decisions are taken by the higher-ranking officials or governing bodies, with limited autonomy granted to employees at lower levels.

How to Identify Your Organizational Culture?

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Your organizational culture is the heartbeat of your company. Therefore, identifying your organizational culture is not just a box to tick but an essential step toward building a successful company.

It shapes the way your team members interact and how the work gets done in the organization. But how can you identify and understand your organizational culture?

Below are a few steps that will help you figure out your organizational culture:

Examine the Leadership of the Organization

Effective leadership is instrumental in molding the organizational culture. The behaviors, values, and decisions of leaders set the tone for the entire workforce.

In order to figure out the organizational culture, examine the leadership styles in the organization. Is it hierarchical or democratic? This can reveal a lot about the prevailing culture.

Observe Employee Behavior

Culture is not just a top-down phenomenon; it's a collective effort. Pay attention to how your employees behave and interact with each other. Are they friendly and supportive, or is there a noticeable lack of teamwork and trust? The way your team members work and collaborate offers critical insights into your culture.

Review Company Values and Mission

An organization's values and mission can provide valuable insights into its culture by serving as a guiding framework for its beliefs, priorities, and behaviors.

For instance, if a company places strong emphasis on learning, it's likely that the culture revolves around offering its employees training and resources for growth.

Figuring Out Which One is The Right Fit For Your Organization?

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Choosing the best organizational culture for the workplace is a crucial decision that can greatly impact your organization's success, employee satisfaction, and overall performance.

Let’s look at some of the ways that will help you to figure out the right fit for your organization:

  • Understand Your Values and Mission: Define your organization's core values and mission. What are your long-term goals, and what principles are non-negotiable? A strong culture should align with these foundational elements.

  • Analyze the Workforce: Consider your employees' skills, preferences, and expectations. The culture you choose should resonate with your workforce and attract the right talent.

  • Seek Employee Feedback: Involve your employees in the decision-making process. Their feedback and insights can help shape the culture that works best for your organization.

  • Examine Employee Recognition: Determine how you want to reward and recognize your employees. Some cultures emphasize performance-based employee rewards and recognition, while others focus on intrinsic motivation.

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Source: Vantage Rewards by Vantage Circle


Organizational culture can make or break a company. You must carefully assess the culture that will enable your organization to thrive.

A culture that complements the business strategy and resonates with your employees is most likely to yield success. It is also a wise choice to develop a flexible company culture that adapts to the changing business scenarios of the world.

Now, go ahead and consider your values, your team, and your goals, and determine the culture that will empower your organization to thrive. The culture you choose will shape the future of your organization.

This article is written by Shikha Moni Gogoi, a member of the content team at Vantage Circle. She is an avid reader and likes to spend her days immersed in books and movies. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com.

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