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8 Different Types of Company Culture that Exist Today

An exploration of the 8 types of company culture in today’s workplace.

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Posted On Jun 14, 2024 

Have you ever wondered why everyone shows up 5 minutes late to meetings in your office, while your friend insists meetings start right on the dot at her company? Or perhaps why some people seem to get all their friends from work, while others never see their coworkers outside the office? It could be one of the 8 types of company culture.


Company culture holds many of the answers to these and countless other differences between organizations. In order to better understand the types of culture and the optimal approach to dealing with each, four organizational development experts conducted a literature review to create eight distinct culture buckets (Harvard Business Review).


To save you the reading, we’ll discuss the two dimensions that led to the classification of the eight types of culture, as well as elaborate on each bucket.


The 8 Types of Organizational Cultures


  1. Purpose
  2. Caring
  3. Order
  4. Safety
  5. Authority
  6. Results
  7. Enjoyment
  8. Learning


In their literature review, the authors of this research found two concepts that underlie a company’s culture, allowing them to plot the different cultural types on a two-dimensional axis.


First Dimension: The Way People Interact


The first dimension is “people interactions”, which can range from highly independent to highly interdependent—so as you might imagine, independent cultures foster competition and value individuals who can thrive on their own, whereas interdependent cultures judge success through group effectiveness.


Second Dimension: How a Company Responds to Change


The second dimension deals with the response to change, ranging from stability to flexibility—the former favoring rules and hierarchy, and the latter innovation and diversity.


Using these two dimensions, the authors created the below two-dimensional axis and resulting in eight cultural types which drive what unites employees, the type of person that typically does well in that type of organization, and what company leaders tend to focus on.


Interestingly, the cultural type a company falls into often reflects the industry and geographic location; For example, the authors categorize China-based Huawei as having a culture of “authority”, which could perhaps be reflective of the broader culture in China.


To be certain, companies don’t necessarily have to fit into just one type of culture, but categorizing them as such can help company leaders and employees alike to be more effective in their work.


The Framework


1. Purpose Organizational or Company Culture


Employees united by: Driving sustainability and global communities

Employees are generally: Compassionate and open-minded

Leaders emphasize: Shared ideals, greater cause

Good for: People looking for an organization that values making an impact on the world over individual achievement

Example: Whole Foods


2. Caring Organizational Culture


Employees united by: Loyalty

Employees are generally: Collaborative, welcoming

Leaders emphasize: Sincerity, teamwork, good relationships

Good for: Those motivated to perform well as a result of positive working relationships

Example: Disney


3. Order Organizational or Corporate Culture


Employees united by: Cooperation

Employees are generally: Methodical, rule-following

Leaders emphasize: Shared procedures, customs

Good for: People who are most comfortable in unambiguous, structured environments

Example: SEC


4. Safety Organizational Culture


Employees united by: The need to feel protected and the ability to anticipate organizational changes

Employees are generally: Risk-conscious, conscientious

Leaders emphasize: Advance planning, pragmatic

Good for: Employees who like to feel included in organizational changes and who prefer careful planning

Example: Lloyd’s of London


5. Authority Company or Organizational Culture


Employees united by: Strong control

Employees are generally: Competitive, looking to get ahead

Leaders emphasize: Confidence, dominance

Good for: People who are motivated by gaining personal advantage more than organizational success

Example: Huawei


6. Results Organizational Culture


Employees united by: Success

Employees are generally: Outcome-oriented, merit-based

Leaders emphasize: Goal accomplishment

Good for: Employees who perform their best when executing against set goals and driving towards a winning result

Example: GSK


7. Enjoyment Organizational or Company Culture


Employees united by: Playfulness and stimulation

Employees are generally: Lighthearted, in search of work that makes them happy

Leaders emphasize: Spontaneity, a sense of humor

Good for: Fun-loving people who look for a sense of excitement in their day-to-day

Example: Zappos


8. Learning Organizational Culture


Employees united by: Curiosity

Employees are generally: Inventive, creative, always looking to explore alternatives

Leaders emphasize: Innovation, knowledge, adventure

Good for: Those who value learning over other things that might be attained through work, such as stability or personal achievement

Example: Tesla


Conclusion: Which Company Culture Aligns with Your Values the Best?


At the end of the day, no one type of company culture is right or wrong–nor do most companies fall perfectly into a single culture. Rather than trying to box a company into a single cultural type, use these eight classifications as tools to better understand how different companies function–and, perhaps more importantly, where you’ll be the happiest and most productive.


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