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Handy’s Model of Organisational Culture

Charles Handy, born in 1932, Ireland, is a well-known philosopher who has specialised in organisation culture, the 4 types of culture in organisations

Culture is the way we do things around here. 

What is an organisation?

An organisation is a setup where individuals (employees) come together to work for a common goal. The employees need to work in close coordination and achieve the targets within the stipulated time frame for the smooth functioning of the organisation.

Every organisation has specific values and follows some policies and guidelines which differentiate it from others. The principles and beliefs of any organisation form its culture. The organisation’s culture decides the way employees interact amongst themselves and external parties. No two organisations can have the same culture, and the employees need to adjust well to their organisation’s culture to enjoy their work and stay stress-free.

Several models have been proposed to explain the organisational culture, one of them being the Charles Handy model.

Who is Charles Handy?

Charles Handy, born in 1932 in Ireland, is a well-known philosopher who has specialised in organisation culture. According to Charles Handy’s model, there are four types of culture that organisations follow:

Let us understand them in detail.

Power

There are some organisations where the power remains in the hands of only a few people, and only they are authorised to make decisions. They are the ones who enjoy special privileges at the workplace. They are the most important people in the workplace and primary decision-makers. These individuals further delegate responsibilities to the other employees. In such a culture, the subordinates have no option but to follow their superior’s instructions strictly. The employees do not have the liberty to express their views or share their ideas on an open forum and have to follow what their superior says. The managers in such a culture can sometimes be partial to someone or the other, leading to major unrest.

Task Culture

Organisations follow the task culture, where teams are formed to achieve the targets or solve critical problems. In such organisations, individuals with shared interests and specialisations form a team. There are generally four to five members in each team. In such a culture, every team member has to contribute equally and accomplish tasks most innovatively.

Person Culture

There are certain organisations where the employees feel more important than their organisation. Such organisations follow a culture known as person culture. In a personal culture, individuals are more concerned about themselves than the organisation. The organisation in such a culture takes a back seat and eventually suffers. Employees just come to the office for money and never get attached to it. They are seldom loyal to the management and never decide in favour of the organisation. One should never forget that organisation comes first and everything else later.

Role culture

Role culture is a culture where every employee is delegated roles and responsibilities according to his specialisation, educational qualification and interest to extract the best out of him. In such a culture, employees decide what best they can do and willingly accept the challenge. Every individual is accountable for something or the other and has to take ownership of the work assigned to him. Power comes with responsibility in such a work culture.

Handy's Model of Organisational Culture

You may use this model as a reference. For example, when a publicly listed company acquires a sole proprietorship, the culture will change from centralised to decentralised.

A strong organisational culture reflects employee values and helps enterprise companies thrive.

Evita Veigas
3 min read
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