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date: 15 December 2019

(p. 567) Climate and Culture in Practice

This Part is devoted to the ways in which climate and culture concepts are used in practice. Chapter authors are either practitioners who work in the companies on which they report or they are consultants to such organizations. We are very fortunate to have these people report on and share their experiences in these companies because the fascinating sense they provide of the complexities of organizational climate and culture reinforce why these topics are of such academic and practical interest. Of particular interest will be the high level leadership issues these companies confront and the ways companies cope with change that can be both internally driven and externally required.

The real-life story at 3M reported in chapter 29 by Paul and Fenlason shows, as the title says, how to teach an elephant, an existing company, to dance, that is to change. Paul and Fenlason present who 3M is and how it got to be that way, including its underlying values and the innovation goals that have served the company well. Then they reveal how the company went astray and was brought back to its founding values by a new CEO. The story is interesting and reveals the challenges companies can face when the need for change is identified. Church, Rotolo, Shull, and Tuller tell a somewhat similar story in chapter 30 about events at PepsiCo. Of particular academic interest in this chapter are the clear distinctions made between work group (local supervisory) climate and the larger organizational culture in which those climates behave. Of practical interest is the important role the human resources function is shown to have both in measurement of climate/culture and of their change. Chapter 32 on McDonald’s by Small and Newton reports the fascinating history of the company from a single drive-in restaurant in the 1950s to the present 33,500 locations around the world. A most interesting feature of the chapter is the way Small and Newton are able to clarify how an organization’s culture can inhibit or put a blockage on change that is required to adapt to the ever-changing external world and its requirements. In addition, the issue of dealing with franchisees is raised in the chapter, a topic academics appear to have conveniently avoided.

The two case reports by external observers in this section are about The Mayo Clinic and the Tata Group. In chapter 31, Berry and Seltman take us through the history of Mayo and show in great detail how the vision of the Mayo brothers at the very founding of the effort have persisted and served as a foundation of the company over time. Some of the unique characteristics of Mayo are portrayed with the reasons for them (e.g., all physicians are salaried employees so they can serve patients without undue time pressure) and the ways Mayo has adapted to the need for both change and expansion are revealed. In a similar manner, in chapter 33, Sarkar-Barney shares with us the journey and adventures of the Tata family and The Tata Group. The Tata family has been a constant in the company’s expansion from its earliest days to the present multinational multibusiness (p. 568) enterprise. The ways in which the company’s fortunes have rested on adapting to changes in its social and political environment are revealed in considerable detail and make for a fascinating portrait of climate and culture at work—and in India.

How is one to lead and manage such multinational companies and what are some of the human issues requiring attention? In chapter 34, Lundby, Moriarty, and Lee provide us, literally, the lenses (bifocals, as they call them) for simultaneously being concerned with organizational culture when managing in multiple national cultures. At the same time they focus on the preferences of people in different cultures for what the work world will offer them and the need to integrate and manage whole companies in diverse national countries. This one is quite a feat!