Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 17, Iss. 1, January, 2013, pp. 87-105
@2013 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Communication as a Mechanism for Cultural Integration

Tomas Backstrom, Malardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden
Tom Hagstrom, Malardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden
Susanna Goransson, Malardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden

Abstract: Providing autonomy for employees ensures innovation competence if balanced by integration into the organization. The aim of this article is to study processes leading to the integration of employees into the company culture. The two research questions are: What makes the culture of a work group similar to the company culture? How is a work group culture constructed? Theories that are employed concern culture as an organizing structure emerging in the interaction, company culture as a way to exert control, and social networks as a way to describe the interaction. Empirical data come from a merchant bank from which 105 respondents from ten work groups answered questions about their communication and their integration into the company culture. The results show that the sub-culture of the group emerges in communication between members of the group. There seems to be a self-reinforcing spiral between collegial talk, especially about goals, plans and changes at the work place, and cultural integration. All members of a group should be included in this communication to create a strong culture. The value system of the supervisor strongly influences the sub-culture of the work group. Appointing supervisors with values that correspond to the company culture and provide for employee communications is thus central for organizations using culture as a tool for control.

Keywords: complex systems, integrated autonomy, emergence, organizational culture, social networks, decentralized organization