"I am writing again, to supplement my longer books of 1985 and 1992 (Organizational Culture and Leadership, first and second editions respectively), and to be more pointed in my argument. There is now abundant evidence that corporate culture makes a difference to corporate performance; we know that leaders increasingly need concepts and tools for working with culture in varied and subtle ways. If you want to take a serious rather than superficial look at culture in organizations, struggle through this book with me-and let the complexity inform you rather than turn you off...In each chapter, I provide the logic of the argument, but I also give you case material and practical suggestions for what you can do to test the ideas for yourself. I hope the chapter titles are self-explanatory; you should feel free to jump around to follow your own questions. I find that learning to see the world through culturally more sophisticated lenses is fun. You see more, and you understand more. I hope that you too discover that it is fun to have cultural insight" (from the Preface).
In this context, Edgar Schein argues that "The bigger danger in trying to understand culture is to oversimplfy it in our minds". Therefore, according to Schein, instead of say that culture is 'the way we do things around here', 'the rites and rituals of our compay', 'the company climate', 'the reward system', 'our basic values', and so on, a better way to think about culture is to realize that it exists at several 'levels'. Thus, he firstly categorizes culture into three levels (more detailed discussion see Chapter Two):
1. 'Artifacts': These are visible organizational structures and processes (hard to decipher).
2. 'Espoused Values': These are strategies, goals, and philosophies of an organization(espoused justifications).
3. 'Shared Tacit Assumptions': These are unconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings (ultimate source of values and action).
Hence, after reviewing popular views on culture, he abstractly defines culture as the sum total of all the shared, taken-for-granted assumptions that a group has learned throughout its history. And to give a more realistic view of what culture covers, he outlines the areas in which cultural assumptions make a difference as below (more detailed discussion see Chapter Three). At this point, he argues that "cultural assumptions involve not only the internal workings of the organization but, more important, how the organization views itself in relation to its various environments". In other words, culture is deep, extensive, and complex. It covers all aspects of reality and human functioning.
1. External Survival Issues
* Mission, strategy, goals
* Means: structure, systems, processes
* Measurement: error-detection and correction systems
2. Internal Integration Issues
* Common language and concepts
* Group boundaries and identity
* The nature of authority and relationships
* Allocation of rewards and status
3. Deeper Underlying Assumptions
* Human relationship to nature
* The nature of reality and truth
* The nature of human nature
* The nature of human relationships
* The nature of time and space
Within this general principles, he examines all aspects of culture throughout the book, and finally he argues that "Learning about culture is requires effort. You have to enlarge your perception. You have to examine your own thought process. You have to accept that there are other ways to think and do things".