With nearly every business scandal corporate culture comes under the spotlight, be it the financial mismanagement at Carillion, VW’s emission scandal or Bell Pottinger’s involvement in manipulating racial tensions in South Africa. However, rather than pursuing the argument that corporate culture is the source of all that is wrong with modern corporates, we want to present an alternative view. Although we do not dispute that in some cases organisational culture can drag down a business, we have also seen how corporate culture, at its best, can be a source of differentiation and competitive advantage.

So what do we mean by corporate culture? Basically, it is ‘how do we do things around here?’ This refers to the language used, the way decisions are made, how work is planned and undertaken, even how people dress and deal with conflict. Primarily, it relates to the patterns of behaviours people display that represent the way people in the organisation ‘think’ and ‘feel’.

Every organisation has a multitude of cultures at play, such as national, divisional or functional cultures but the set of behaviours that are common across the business form the corporate culture – it’s what distinguishes your organisation from others. Whereas a competitor can copy your strategy, business model and even your product and services, copying your culture is not possible.

When an organisation seeks to transform, the focus of executives tends to be on adapting their strategy or operating model – but it is vital not to forget your culture.

Read our viewpoint:

Case studies:

How a digital jam can spread fresh thinking on corporate culture

Creating ‘momentum’ for a winning culture


For further information please contact Joanna Booysen: jbooysen@telospartners.com