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Workshop 6

Organizational Climate and Culture: Manifestations, Measurement, and Management

Presenters: Benjamin Schneider, CEB Valtera; Mark G. Ehrhart, San Diego State University

Coordinator: Rob Michel, Edison Electric Institute

Target Audience:  Introductory; appropriate for all levels of experience


The workshop will present an overview of organizational climate and organizational culture theory, research, and practice. We will emphasize how both climate and culture can be included in organizational assessments and incorporated in organizational development and change programs with examples of how they have been used in organizations.

Detailed Description:

Organizational climate concerns the shared meaning employees in organizations attach to the policies, practices, and procedures they experience and the behaviors they see being rewarded, supported, and expected. Significant research on climate has been underway since the early 1970s with advances having been made in research on levels of analysis issues, strategic (e.g., safety, service) and process foci (e.g., justice, ethics) for research, and climate as both mediator and moderator of the effects of other organizational variables on effectiveness.

Organizational culture concerns the beliefs, values, and basic assumptions that characterize organizations as represented in the behavioral norms, myths, stories, and what newcomers learn are the appropriate ways to think and feel during their socialization experiences. Enthusiasm for organizational culture peaked among researchers and practitioners in the 1980s; recent years have seen considerable debate over the proper way to measure culture and whether organizations have a single macro culture or numerous subcultures or whether both of these forms exist simultaneously. There has been little integration in theory and research on the climate and culture constructs even though, in practice, they have been used interchangeably with considerable anecdotal and empirical evidence for the validity of such integration from I-O practitioners. The primary goal of this workshop is to demonstrate how the two constructs can be used in tandem to better understand and improve organizational effectiveness. Definitions, levels of measurement, the relationship of each with organizational outcomes, and the potential for integrating the two streams of thinking and research will be discussed.

This workshop is designed to help participants:

  • Collect and analyze climate and culture survey research data
  • Use climate and culture survey data to establish links with organizational performance to inform organizational interventions
  • Identify and use the drivers of climate and culture to achieve strategic and process climates and cultures
  • Identify the conceptual, methodological, and practical consequences of integrating across climate and culture constructs to better understand the psychology of organizations and organizational effectiveness

Ben Schneider is Senior Research Fellow at CEB Valtera where he has been since 2003 after many years as a Professor of Psychology and Business Management. Ben has taught at Yale University, Michigan State University, and the University of Maryland where he headed up the I-O program for many years. Ben has won numerous awards for his scholarship including the Distinguished Science Award from SIOP and the HR Division of the Academy of Management as well as SHRM’s Losey Award. Ben was President of SIOP when it became SIOP. Ben’s main interests are in organizational climate and culture and the role of personality in organizational life. He has published widely on these topics, with 12 authored, co-authored and co-edited books and 175 journal articles and book chapters. He has recently published (with Mark Ehrhart and Bill Macey) an Annual Review chapter and two handbook chapters on climate and culture, and he has forthcoming The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Climate and Culture (with Karen Barbera) and the book Organizational Climate and Culture: An Introduction to Theory, Research, and Practice (with Mark Ehrhart and Bill Macey).

Mark Ehrhart is an Associate Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at San Diego State University. His research focuses on organizational climate and culture, leadership, levels of analysis, organizational citizenship behavior, and work stress. He has published over twenty articles on these topics in such outlets as Journal of Applied Psychology, Academy of Management Journal, Personnel Psychology, Journal of Management, and Journal of Organizational Behavior. With Ben Schneider and Bill Macey, he has recently co-authored an Annual Review chapter and two handbook chapters on climate and culture, in addition to the forthcoming book Organizational Climate and Culture: An Introduction to Theory, Research, and Practice. His teaching at both the undergraduate and master’s level primarily focuses on the areas of leadership, climate, and culture.