What Are Different Types of Cultures in the Workplace?

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Some workplace cultures rely on hierarchical structures, while others choose flexibility.
Some workplace cultures rely on hierarchical structures, while others choose flexibility. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Just as a society has different groups within it, an organization has different cultures. The culture working best in the workplace depends on the business and how it is led. Trying to operate the wrong culture under the wrong leadership can often lead to problems within the workplace. For example, while McDonald’s prides itself on its hierarchical culture, Google prefers to foster a creative culture.

Types

There are four types of workplace cultures. First, there is the hierarchical culture, followed by the competition culture, the creative culture and the collaborative culture. Matching the right worker to the right culture often leads to increased worker happiness, as well as increased productivity. This is due to higher job satisfaction.

Hierarchical

The hierarchical culture bears a strong resemblance to a bureaucracy. A hierarchical culture places a strong emphasis on the chain-of-command and making sure the right department deals with situations that arise. A downside to having a hierarchical culture, however, is the stifling of creativity and initiative.

Competition

A competition culture emphasizes the need to compete, both internally and externally. Workers in a competition culture are charged with always finding new ways to outdo competitors, as well as encouraging competition from within the organization. Individuals driven to succeed tend to do well in competition cultures. The downside is the potential to create a “win-at-all-costs” mentality, which may cause problems.

Collaborative

A collaborative corporate culture encourages workers to be a part of a group within the culture. Whereas a competition culture might find one employee working at cross-purposes to another employee, a collaborative culture encourages workers to find ways to find common ground for the good of the company. A collaborative corporate culture might not be as aggressively successful as a competition culture, but having its employees work together allows it the opportunity to overcome obstacles through company teamwork.

Creative

A creative culture in a workplace is one where thinking outside the box is encouraged and new approaches to problems are acceptable. Fostering a creative culture means finding the right employees during the hiring process and bringing them into the organization. It also means allowing the creative members the chance to explore creative solutions and ideas, without constricting or confining them.

Change

When a workplace decides that it will change its organizational culture, obstacles must be overcome. This means employees might have to be laid off. For example, if a hierarchical organization decides to suddenly switch its culture to one of collaborative, individuals accustomed to being sole decision-makers will either adapt to the new conditions or else leave the culture entirely.

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