(p. 295) Outcome and Process Foci for Climate and Culture
Recent research (the last 15–20 years) on organizational climate has been characterized by, first, a focus on strategic outcomes in organizations (e.g., safety, service, health care), and then a focus on process (e.g., fairness, employee engagement, ethics, teams) in organizations. More recently there has been a call for simultaneous focus on both outcome and process climates, but such research is rare (see chapter 35 by Schneider and Barbera). In the organizational culture literature there has been less such focused theory and research. Rather, the emphasis historically has been on what organizational culture is more than on to what it is specifically related. This section of the Handbook summarizes the existing literatures vis-à-vis strategic foci and process foci, and suggests ways the climate and culture approaches might be integrated to yield increased understanding of both organizational outcomes and processes. Throughout this section, greater emphasis is given to climate than culture given its more extensive focused research base.
The service climate literature, including antecedents and consequences of service climate (there is little such culture research), is comprehensively reviewed by Yagil in chapter 16. This chapter reveals robust and reliable relationships with both customer experiences (of quality, satisfaction, and loyalty) and financial consequences such as sales and market value. Zohar’s chapter 17 on safety climate (again, little such research on safety culture—but see the chapter for this issue) also reveals reliable and robust relationships, this time with accidents, injuries, near-accidents, and so forth. Interestingly, Zohar reveals the multi-level nature of safety climate with both work climate and organizational climate contributing to predictions of safety-related outcomes. In addition, he speculates on what happens in organizations when there is a disconnect between espoused values regarding safety and management values in action.
The chapter on health care climate and culture (chapter 18 by West, Topakas, and Dawson) reviews major multi-hospital studies of the relationships between such climate and culture and patient and hospital outcomes, again revealing robust and reliable relationships of consequence ranging from patient satisfaction, to recovery rates after surgery and even patient death rates in units of hospitals and hospitals themselves. A particularly unusual feature of this chapter is the way in which subcultures in organizations (e.g., differences between nurses and physicians) come into play. These reviews of strategically and outcome-focused climate (and culture) approaches to understanding important outcomes to organizations clearly reveal the benefits of such approaches. (p. 296)
The process climates and cultures that have been studied represent important ways organizations function vis-à-vis individuals, teams, the larger world in which they operate, and the amount of energy the setting displays to people there in the form of engagement. Here, too, most of the research has been on climate. Process climates do not have as outcomes the kinds of business imperatives that the strategic outcome climates have, but the research on these issues proceeds in a similar fashion. That is, a process climate is chosen and the conceptually and empirically likely polices, practices and procedures, and so forth that might influence those outcomes are studied. For example, in chapter 19, Rupp and Thornton reveal how the social psychological and OB literatures on fairness/justice served as a basis for looking at justice as an aggregate construct via the climate lens. Mayer in chapter 22 reveals a similar approach for ethics, as does Albrecht for engagement in chapter 21. In the latter case the history of the engagement construct is also explored and a measure of employee engagement is presented with evidence for its validity. Finally, Salas, Salazar, Feitosa, and Kramer present in chapter 20 an exploration of climate and culture issues vis-à-vis collaboration and conflict in teams, revealing that the task on which the teams are working determine the kinds of climate/culture issues that are salient; not all good things (or bad things) follow from collaboration and conflict, although these need to be managed appropriately given certain circumstances.
Collectively, these chapters demonstrate the validity of a climate lens for understanding the importance of having a climate for something rather than just a generic climate for well-being if specific outcomes are of interest. Apparently the well-known logic of bandwidth (the predictor and the criterion should be in the same band width) applies to these kinds of studies as well.