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The Rosetta Stone for Enterprise

We talk a lot about “culture of enterprise”, but when it comes right down to it, it’s not a concept that can be properly summed up in just a few words. It’s a bit like the concept of time as seen by Saint Augustine, when he wrote, “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.” Indeed, it’s already hard enough to explain what “culture” is, so when we add the concept of “enterprise”, what we get is intriguing, but it is difficult to encapsulate in a single definition. Nonetheless, it is this concept of the culture of enterprise on which a great many ideas in the fields of organisation, management and consulting are based.

In “Theory vs. Practice: A Study of Business Consultants and Their Utilization of Corporate Culture in Daily Practice”, Kathy Brady and William Lowell (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) have sought to tackle the issue beginning with practical experience and then adding a dose of theory. Their study is based on an empirical survey of business consultants and business leaders in order to better understand the broad concept of “corporate culture”.  An analysis of the data gathered then showed that, despite making an intensive use of corporate culture in their jobs, not only did the consultants and business leaders surveyed not all give the same definition of corporate culture, the definitions they did give varied a great deal. For some, corporate culture is to be found in the leadership of an organisation and their ability to make employees feel involved in the organisation and its growth, to motivate them and to take a positive, constructive approach both to work and to life. For others, true corporate culture lies in the employees themselves and in how much they feel like they are each a part of a bigger whole, in the approach they take to those outside the organisation, and in the (written and unwritten) rules and restrictions that are adopted. Others said that corporate culture is to be found in the company’s “mission”, in the manner in which they develop their business, in their systems for developing people, and much more.

In the end, the authors come to a tentative definition: “Like a modern Rosetta stone, corporate culture resides in the behavioural symbols of an organization.”

One thing can be said for “Theory vs. Practice”: it’s an interesting exploration of something that is like time to Saint Augustine. We all know what it is, but no one knows how to explain it well.

Theory vs. Practice: A Study of Business Consultants and Their Utilization of Corporate Culture in Daily Practice 

Kathy Brady, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 

William Lowell, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater  Journal of Practical Consulting, Vol. 5 Iss. 1, 2014