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date: 29 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers how an important social scientific concept became a management fad. It begins with the idea of culture and its history in organizational studies. It then looks at contemporary debates about the way that an understanding of culture may contribute to successful management and concludes by considering whether there are differences between public and private sectors that are relevant to this task. Anthropologists have traditionally seen the study of culture as a defining feature of their discipline: Social anthropologists, in studying the institutionalised social relationships that are their primary concern, have found it essential to take account of the ideas and values which are associated with them, that is, of their cultural content. No account of a social relationship in human terms can be complete unless it includes reference to what it means to the people who have it. Culture does not have a material existence, although physical objects may be treated as cultural artefacts, by virtue of the meanings that people assign to them.

Keywords: organizational culture, public services, successful management, social relationship, cultural artefacts, institutionalisation

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