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The Corporate Culture Survival Guide (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) Hardcover – 1 Aug 1999

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  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey Bass (1 Aug. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787946990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787946999
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.4 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,370,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

Culture. We blithely use the term for just about anything--a vibrant culture, a dominant culture, a corporate culture. But do we really know what we're saying, what the notion of a "culture" really means? Or do we most often assume that the term is just a convenient way to group together those with a common purpose, goal or method of achieving that goal? Isn't a corporate culture, for example, just "the way we do things around here"?

No, it's not. In The Corporate Culture Survival Guide, Edgar Schein reveals how that's merely the tip of the iceberg, an iceberg that managers ignore at the peril of their company's future. Underneath, lies the much harder to grasp "essence" of the company, the "learned, shared, tacit assumptions on which people base their daily behavior". These assumptions are learned over time and in different internal and external environments, becoming, as Schein puts it, the "residue of success". As these assumptions influence all aspects of how a company functions, discovering their nature and cause is vital to the success of any new organisation-wide venture or strategy. In the second half of the book, Schein illustrates how, using this knowledge, a company's culture can be deliberately created or changed. Supported by numerous case study examples, his advice is pertinent to start-ups, mature companies and blended organisations.

If you are the type of manager that needs a quick fix solution, with simple catch-phrases and an easy Five Step Program to Success, this book is not for you. Nor are the benefits to be gained from acquiring the depth of knowledge and insight needed to understand, work with, and transform your corporate culture. Using intelligent, lucid prose, Schein provides this kind of insight and more; he tells both warning and inspiring tales of what this insight can mean for your company, and offers useful suggestions on how to put knowledge into practice. --S. Ketchum,


"Ed Schein has crystallized a lifetime of etching, research, and reflection on the dynamics of corporate culture and change. Rarely does an academician speak as clearly and pragmatically to business leaders as does Schein."(Don Davis, retired CEO, The Stanley Works, and senior MIT lecturer on leadership and ethics)

"Anyone with even the slightest interest in the too–often used and abused notion of corporate culture will want this book."(John Van Maanen, Erwin Schell Professor of Organization Studies, MIT)

"Schein provides an enormously helpful set of ideas and applications that will make the manager′s tasks of working with and trying to change the cultures in their organizations much more feasible and a lot less painful."(Peter J. Frost, Edgar F. Kaiser Professor of Organizational Behavior, University of British Columbia)

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Culture matters. It matters because decisions made without awareness of the operative cultural forces may have unanticipated and undesirable consequences. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Errante on 5 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You have to read this book if you are interested in organisational culture at all. Yes, there are more recent developments in the subject, but like every classic, this sets the foundations of the subject. It is from a time when being concise and clear was primordial. Gone are the days when you could understand a specialist book without dictionaries! All in all, I should have bought it earlier!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well structured, clearly written in straightforward language and well illustrated through examples from the author's extensive consultancy experience. The suggested process for deciphering an organisations culture looks as if it would work well in practice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pretty powerful stuff
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By Dr David A Worth on 29 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sill a classic
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 33 reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
"Learning about culture requires effort" 29 Jun. 2000
By Turgay BUGDACIGIL - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"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".
Strongly recommended.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Insightful! 29 May 2001
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Edgar H. Schein provides an excellent conceptual explanation of culture in general and corporate culture in particular. He shows how cultures arise and explains why it is so hard to examine and change an embedded culture. He also lays out practical plans for assessing culture. These plans are not simple or easy, but they promise great reward if carefully followed. Case studies illustrate the concepts and show how corporate problems can be seen in terms of culture. The first half of the book, which lays out the concepts of culture, is especially clear. The second half, which examines cultural issues in various kinds of organizations, uses more jargon and is a bit murkier. Overall, we [...] recommend this book as especially useful for anyone dealing with change, be it moving to a new organization, considering or coping with a merger or acquisition, or even planning to work with people from another group, company or background.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Practical perspective of corporate culture 10 April 2000
By John Holmes - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was familiar with Schein's earlier book, it having been a prescribed text in an MBA I was doing, so was intrigued with his directions since writing it. I found this book more useful from a practical perspective. In fact, Schein interlaces small sections called "Practical Implications" thoughout, the idea being to get the reader to think about the culture that they exist and work in. Schein makes it clear that corporate culture is a tough area to get clarity on, since we are deeply immersed in it, and not aware of culture's impact on us. It's hard to look at something from the outside (cultural analysis) when working on the inside.
All well and good, a solid practical guide to corporate culture, however where I am finding practical use for Schein's work is in e-business. Schein proves very useful for factoring the cultural dimensions into e-business transformation. I believe that anyone attempting a transformation to become an e-business needs to thoroughly understand corporate culture - something not found in the e-business materials I have seen so far. Schein offers a way of looking at corporate culture that goes beyond the usual platitudes, and attempts to give the reader insights into real understanding. This book should be on the e-business change agent's shelf.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
With all thy getting, get understanding 18 April 2001
By "craczka" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What an absolutely brillant book!
How many people do you know spend time agonizing over something said or an action taken by someone in Senior Management ? How many people do you know who spend time wrestling with stated "values" in light of mixed messages from members of Senior Management ?
Vex no more! Mr Schein does an fantastic job helping readers change their thought paradigms. How often do books like this come around ? IT is a classic, add it to your library which should already have Drucker, Juran, Deming, Crosby, Weinberg, Maxwell, Covey and Nadler works. Some may find this a bit difficult to read, but endure, focus your thoughts and reap the enormous benefits!!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Schein's Usual High-Caliber Insight 1 July 2000
By Courtney L. Lewis - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is of Schein's usual high caliber and contains an incredible amount of useful information for both the consultant and the manager. My one criticism would be that when read consecutively, the chapter topics did not seem to flow logically (to his credit, the author does state in the introduction that he designed the book to be read in such a way that people could skip around to what interested them). Transformative change segways into the midlife company which transitions into mergers and acquisitions - a little jarring although always interesting. I think this is definitely a book to have on the Schein section of the bookshelf.
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