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Case study – Corporate culture

Corporate culture as a critical success factor at Google

Studienarbeit 2009 22 Seiten


Table of content

List of figures

1. Introduction
1.1 Problem definition
1.2 Objectives
1.3 Scope of work
1.4 Methodology

2. Corporate culture
2.1 Definition
2.2 Forms and goals
2.3 Mission statement of a company
2.4 Measurement
2.5 Creation
2.6 Critical success factor
2.7 The connection to success

3. Google
3.1 Overview
3.2 The corporate culture of Google
3.3 The innovation-oriented and successful culture inside

4. Conclusion


List of figures

- Figure 1:

Font from: (date of access 10.04.09)

- Figure 2:

Font from: (date of access 18.04.09)

1. Introduction

1.1 Problem definition

In strategic management research particularly the corporate culture is an important and outstanding topic. In the existing literature have crystallized innumerable approaches of the economical cultural research. The corporate culture found special appeal as Japanese companies obtained an improbable export success. Particularly the western industrial nations felt this worldwide expansion as threatening. The typical corporate culture of the Japanese companies is the key to success.[1] From this innumerable concepts of corporate culture were developed, which partly come to carry in this work.[2] At first corporate culture is described in general and the most important definitions are clarified. Subsequently, an introduction to the forms and goals takes place. The condition for a successful corporate culture is the mission statement of a company, which is described in the subsequent section. Further the measurement (section 2.4) is meaningful to the culture, in order to define the actual deviation from the targets situation of the culture and introduce measures. In section 2.5, the creation of a corporate culture is described. Also this is very important to act target-oriented. The conclusion of the theory part forms the success of a corporate culture, which is the most significant section and in order to that the company will be promoted further. After that follows the case with Google. At first is given an overview of the company and its corporate culture. At last the innovation-oriented culture of Google is described, which led to the success of the company. Finally the summary of the theory part and the case Google takes place.

1.2 Objectives

In the available work is pointed that the corporate culture demonstrates a critical success factor for the company. A harmonious strategy-cultural-relationship is indispensable for the company’s success. For this purpose a clear adjustment between strategy and cultural characteristics is essential, the so called strategy-culture-fit.[3]

1.3 Scope of work

The topic corporate culture is very complex and has many ramifications. Since the range of the case study is given, only the mentioned subareas can be discussed.

1.4 Methodology

For the work were used the books and sources of internet, which are listed in the bibliography.

2. Corporate culture

2.1 Definition

The corporate identity reflects the identity of a company. This concept consists of three steps. The first is the main goal. The company has to be clear about which corporate identity is to be created. Second, the defined identity has to be passed down to the personnel and other stakeholders. In the last step, the corporate culture will be developed and worked on this.[4]

Many decades ago has been reported about the culture in an army or a little in an economic area, but the corporate culture moved in the footlights as admits became that it is of crucial importance for the economic success of the company.[5] For the economy, the theory became highly interesting for the first time in the 70's.[6]

Corporate culture can be defined as the sum of many individuals’ habits referring to their work in a company. It is also the knowledge of how things are done that an individual needs to stay out of trouble as a member of a group. Culture is invisible for team members, it is simply the form how things be done by persons. With culture the people operate more or less like an autopilot during the workday. Mostly, individuals don’t think about work habits, because most of them are part of the special culture at work.[7] Corporate culture is also a set of values, norms and practices. To the practices count for example material and immaterial employee involvement, the management style, the development of personnel and so on. One of the most important management and executive functions in the company is the development and care of the corporate culture[8]

After Pettigrew, corporate culture is shaped by symbols, the language, the ideology, persuasions, rituals and myths. Outwards the visible symbols are to be recognized and above all the language and rituals. To the inside alternatively the ideology belongs to the myths, persuasions and values. These are at the bottom of thinking, feeling and wanting of personnel.[9]

After that coporate culture concept gives in each company an individual culture. Furthermore the reaction types of the company go along against the culture. Thus the company has its own character, its own personality, a so called identity. From this the purchase becomes clear between corporate identity and corporate culture.[10]

2.2 Forms and goals

The culture produces a system of rules or norms in the company. It also can show in which way groups solve their problems or face their dilemmas.

Culture could be arranged into different steps. The first area is the culture of a country. At the second stands the corporate culture, where settings are define of a specific organisation. The last area is engaged with the professional culture. In this, different people share in one function professional and ethical orientations in one organisation.[11]

After Schein (1985) exist three levels of corporate culture. In the first level determine the so called artefacts, these are the visible ones, but often the not decipherable elements of the corporate culture. Among these rank the organisational structure, rituals, idioms, the architecture of the business building or visible behavior patterns. At the second level are the stated values of the company. In these is shown what’s important for the company, for example goals, philosophies or strategies. On the third and last level there are determine the basic assumptions. In this is found not analyze and consciously not reflected hypotheses over the nature of humans, the environment, the time or the reality in the entire one. And this is reflected in thoughts, feelings or beliefs for example.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Schein’s 3-Level Model

1995, Schein investigated that the corporate culture is fed from three sources,
first from the convictions, premises and values of the company’s founder and
second from the learning experiences of the personnel during the company development. Finally and thirdly from new convictions, premises and values which bring new personnel into the company.[12]

The culture typologies play a significant role about systematising the corporate cultures. The target of them is it to reduce the diversity of aspects on a few basic forms. The first experiments to differentiate manifestations of corporate cultures came from Ansoff in 1979. The first type of culture is the stable cultural type. Here appeal past-oriented companies, which want to retain the existing situation. Also risk avoidance is highly respected into these companies. This cultural type can be found in account system or in the production, for example. The next is the reactive cultural type, which includes present-oriented companies. These are affected by internal procedures. Particularly rule observance and preservation are fundamental. This type is to found in the controlling. The third, the accrued type, is internal and external oriented. Calculated risks are accepted in familiar situations. In the reality exists this type in the marketing or in the strategic planning. A further is the explorative cultural type. With this will be looked actively for new possibilities of the company guidance. The type is extroverted and it will be aimed an uncertain future. In this connection will be strictly weight out between future risks and connected chances, like for example in the research and development department. The last type is the creative cultural type. This one is also very extroverted and shall produce active changes. The creative type is strongly to differentiate from the explorative one, which Ansoff doesn’t make clear.

In a company where only one culture obtains, is this one spread over all hierarchy levels, operational functions, age groups and nationalities. But different subcultures form in large and also older companies. These are integrated components of the total culture. In addition these carry in itself a majority of the predominating values of the company. After a certain time subcultures depart from the original value core of the company and form thereby own behaviour standards. The reasons to create a subculture vary situation-dependently according to different criteria. This can be caused by strongly segmented organisational structures, by different hierarchy levels, by a common experience background or by different training backgrounds.[13] The economy today stays in a permanent change, embossed by mergers, acquisitions, investments in new technologies or markets and shortening of product life cycles. Due to the change the personnel and the company must adjust all the time to new conditions and face to the constantly present war of competition. The company should react quickly with adequate instruments to the changes. The respective company adjust to the environment and change itself. This presupposes that the personnel have to identify with the company and because of this the change would be actively support. This act can be adopted permanently proactively. In the last years the corporate culture achieved a high significance as development and strategy field. The goal of the corporate culture is to enhance the contentedness of the personnel as well as the productivity of those. Furthermore successful handling and creation of different transit situations is also a challenge for the company. The increase of the company’s success is to be seen as the most important goal, which is accounted for the other goals.[14]


[1] Von der Oelsnitz, D. (2009): Die innovative Organisation, 2. überarbeitete Auflage, 2009

[2] Pullig, K. (2000): Innovative Unternehmenskulturen, 1. Auflage, Rosenberger Fachverlag, 2000

[3] Von der Oelsnitz, D. (2009): Die innovative Organisation, 2. überarbeitete Auflage, 2009

[4] Körner, M. (1990): Corporate Identity und Unternehmenskultur, Deutscher Sparkassenverlag, Stuttgart, 1990

[5] Nerdinger, F. W., Wilke, P. (2003): Beteiligungsorientierte Unternehmenskultur, Wiesbaden, 2003

[6] Pullig, K. (2000): Innovative Unternehmenskulturen, 1. Auflage, Rosenberger Fachverlag, 2000

[7] Association for Manufacturing Excellence (2009): Substaining Lean, Case Studies in Transforming Culture, 2009

[8] Nerdinger, F. W., Wilke, P. (2003): Beteiligungsorientierte Unternehmenskultur, Wiesbaden, 2003

[9] Pullig, K. (2000): Innovative Unternehmenskulturen, 1. Auflage, Rosenberger Fachverlag, 2000

[10] Körner, M. (1990): Corporate Identity und Unternehmenskultur, Deutscher Sparkassenverlag, Stuttgart, 1990

[11] Jennex, M. E. (2009): Knowledge Management, Organisational Memory and Transfer Behavior, San Diego State University, USA, 2009

[12] Pullig, K. (2000): Innovative Unternehmenskulturen, 1. Auflage, Rosenberger Fachverlag, 2000

[13] Von der Oelsnitz, D. (2009): Die innovative Organisation, 2. überarbeitete Auflage, 2009

[14] Nerdinger, F. W., Wilke, P. (2003): Beteiligungsorientierte Unternehmenskultur, Wiesbaden, 2003


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
584 KB
Institution / Hochschule
FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie und Management gemeinnützige GmbH, Hochschulstudienzentrum Hamburg
Case Corporate Google



Titel: Case study – Corporate culture