Defining culture and competitive advantage

Few concepts in organizational theory have as many different and compet- ing definitions as ‘organizational culture’. Smircich (1983), for example, has cited five classes of such definitions in her literature review. Rather than attempt to resolve these numerous and subtle definitional conflicts, a definition that is consistent with most of the research about organizational culture and a firm’s performance is used here (e.g. Deal and Kennedy 1982; Peters and Waterman 1982). In this work, organizational culture typically is defined as a complex set of values, beliefs, assumptions, and symbols that define the way in which a firm conducts its business. In this sense, culture has pervasive effects on a firm because a firm’s culture not only defines who its relevant employees, customers, suppliers, and competitors are, but it also defines how a firm will interact with these key actors (Louis 1983; Schein 1999). This conception of organizational culture blurs classical distinctions between an organization’s culture and its structure and strategy (Tichy 1983) because these attributes of a firm are direct manifestations of cultural assumptions about what business a firm is in and how it conducts that business.

While it is difficult to identify a single definition of organizational cul- ture that incorporates all the facets of this concept, the dependent variable in this analysis—sustained competitive advantage—is defined as described in Chapters 1 and 3. A firm has a competitive advantage when it is cre- ating more economic value than the marginal firm in its industry; it has a sustained competitive advantage when efforts to duplicate the bases of that advantage have ended. Sustained competitive advantages tend to last longer than other kinds of competitive advantages.

Source: Barney Jay B., Clark Delwyn N. (2007), Resource-Based Theory: Creating and Sustaining Competitive Advantage, Oxford University Press; Illustrated edition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *