Corporate Culture – A literature review (for the ACCA-ESRC)

xfs_900x600_c80_bigstock-Photo-of-business-people-hands-65265052Under the direction of Paul Moxey, in 2014 the ACCA and the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) completed an ambitious research project investigating perceptions of corporate culture and its links to dysfunctional behaviour in organisations. This series of four reports aims to assist boards in preparing to assess their corporate culture and in understanding how it can influence either functional or dysfunctional behaviour.

The research included:

  • looking at a body of academic literature from different social science disciplines, as well as reports and investigations into various scandals and corporate failures
  • talking to over 150 people with expert knowledge from business, academia and regulation on five continents in roundtable discussions and other meetings
  • conducting an online survey among ACCA’s global membership, resulting in close to 2,000 responses in April 2014.

The literature review was ‘produced in collaboration with Dr Graham Wilson’. [ED: Well, I did it really 😉 ] It particularly looks at psychological aspects of management practices, offering innovative tools to effectively engage with organisational members, understanding what drives ‘desirable’ behaviour and what leads to sustained motivation.

Not being comfortable with the use of the terms ‘functional’ and ‘dysfunctional’, which have very well defined uses in the psychological literature and could be construed as meaning that individuals with personality disorders were largely responsible for major corporate misdeeds, I coined two alternatives. ‘Desirable’ here means making a sustainable contribution to long-term organisational success while
‘undesirable’ means undermining the ability to be genuinely successful over the long term. For some firms, there is also ‘ambiguous’ behaviour – essentially entrepreneurial activity that in limited circumstances benefits the organisation, but that can become
undesirable if the degree of risk or potential impact goes beyond acceptable limits.

I will post more on the themes explored in the report another time, but for the moment, here’s a copy of the full literature review: ACCA-ESRC Corporate Culture – Literature Review – GBW.

Best wishes, Graham

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