Company Culture

There are 4 types of organisational culture. Which one is yours?

types of organisational culture

Did you know there are definitive types of organisational culture? There totally are! Kim S. Cameron and Robert E. Quinn from the University of Michigan did us all an enormous favour by creating the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), a validated research method to assess organisational culture in the modern business space.

We don’t know about you, but we love it when things are boiled down like this - it creates order and meaning in a space where things can be pretty murky and undefined at the best of times.

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So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the clan, adhocracy, hierarchy and market cultures respectively. 


1. The Clan Culture

For members of a clan culture, the primary focus is mentorship and teamwork. They are all about internal focus and integration, flexibility and discretion; their motto is likely to be something along the lines of 'teamwork makes the dream work'. I.e. you're looking at a big happy family that prizes collaborative work in a space where clear communication is key, change is embraced and action is taken quickly and swiftly. 


  • The pros of the clan culture: Employee engagement is normally quite high and customer service is top notch as a result thereof. Market growth is also healthy, since the team is nimble enough to adapt. 
  • The cons of the clan culture: The happy family vibe is hard to maintain once the company starts to grow and the flat organisational structure can lead to disorganised day-to-day operations if it's not managed correctly. 
  • How to nurture a clan culture: Open the lines of communication so your employees feel heard. This will allow you to suss out what they value, which changes they'd like to see and what stellar ideas they have for company growth. Take heed of their input and make it a reality.


2. The Adhocracy Culture

Risk-taking and innovation is front and centre in an adhocracy culture. As such, external focus, differentiation, flexibility and discretion rule the roost.

This company's motto is likely to be something along the lines of 'Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go', a la T.S. Eliot. As such, your adhocratic companies are normally those who walk the cutting edge in their respective industries. 


  • The pros of the adhocracy culture: These guys bring in the big bucks and their employees thrive on pushing the envelope, dreaming up new ideas and chasing professional development on the daily. 
  • The cons of the adhocracy culture: Risk-taking is risky and it's not a given that every new idea will pan out. In fact, it may even end up making a big mess and costing the company a lot of money. These environments are also filled with A-type personalities who can turn a bit feral if they're not kept in check. 
  • How to foster an adhocracy culture: Embrace the positive aspects of the culture by hosting regular blue-sky brainstorming sessions, and recognising and rewarding innovation among your troops. 

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3. The Hierarchy Culture

The hierarchy culture is founded on structure and stability, with control, internal focus and integration as its corner stones.

Their slogan will capture the gist of 'if it's not a right angle, it's a wrong angle' - they're all about sticking to tried and true methods to achieve dependable results. Traditional corporate structures are alive and kicking within these enterprises and employees can look to a clear chain of command when they need guidance. You are likely to see lots of suits and sensible skirts in these hallways. 


  • The pros of a hierarchy culture: Directions are clear - there is a roadmap to success within these ventures. 
  • The cons of a hierarchy culture: It can be tough to get creative and the rigidness of the corporate structure makes it slow to adapt to changing market forces. 
  • How to foster a hierarchy culture: Lasso the positive aspects of this culture by getting to grips with your processes and filling in any gaps in your chain of command. 


4. The Market Culture

The market culture thrives on competition and growth, and prizes stability, control, external focus and differentiation. Their motto will be something along the lines of 'out hustle, out work, out think, outplay, outlast!' (insert optional pyrotechnics).

Profit is paramount for all concerned, and leadership is likely to be rather removed from the folks at grassroots level. External success takes precedence over internal satisfaction in order to reach targets and boost the bottom line. 


  • The pros of the market culture: Money, honey! Market cultures are all about that financially solvent life. 
  • The cons of the market culture: Because every choice and business decision is weighed at the hand of potential profit, employees can quickly feel like a cog in the works and struggle to find meaning in their work. 
  • How to foster a market culture: To emulate the positive aspects of a market culture, you can start by evaluating employee performance, and putting incentives in place by means of recognition and rewards that shine the spotlight on top performers. 

Could you figure out which of the four types of organisational culture best describes yours? 

Keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks and months for more expert insight into all things HR - we’ll be taking a look at everything from company performance and mission statements, to employee communication, customer service and more.

In the meantime, if you’re serious about fine-tuning your corporate culture, we’d like to invite you to take a look at our in-depth eBook that tackles exactly how to build an employee recognition program from scratch. Simply click the button below to get your copy.

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