Corporate Culture As Rites and Ceremonies
Sensitivity to rites and ceremonies may help managers be more effective in their organizations.Public acknowledgment of a promotion would be such a rite.
Rites of conflict reduction resolve the conflicts that inevitably arise among people or groups. The impeachment of Richard Nixon was a truncated rite of degradation, cut short by his resignation. Rites of enhancement enhance the status and social identities of people. Both do and say things about organizations, helping to establish a company identity, and both serve to ease people and their social groups through changes in roles and status. Rites of renew strengthen existing social structures and thus improve their functioning. In performing the activities of a rite or ceremonial, people make use of other cultural forms-certain customary language, gestures, ritualized behaviors, artifacts, other symbols, and settings-to heighten the expression of shared meanings appropriate to the occasion. Six kinds of rites in organizations can be identified: Rites of passage show the altering of one's status. Managers can identify the purposes and encourage the expression of rites that benefit the organization. Rites of degradation sometimes accompanies the removal of high-status people. A good example of an organizational rite of passage is the events and behaviors involved in induction into the University.
Examples of such rites are most organizational development programs, such as management by objectives (MBO) and employee performance evaluations.Rites of integration increase the interaction of potentially divergent subsystems with one another during participation in the rite and thus create or revived shared feelings of union and commitment to a larger system. Hamburger University serves McDonald's ceremoniously, providing awards, unifying employees, and helping socialize new employees by easing them through the "culture shock" of entering a new company. To provide a broader view of cultural phenomena, these authors advocate studying rites and ceremonies that consolidate multiple cultural forms: The consolidation and interdependence of cultural forms is particularly evident in rites and ceremonies which combine various forms of cultural expression within coherent cultural events with well- demarcated beginnings and ends. Graduation ceremonies at Hamburger University serve not only as rites of passage but also as rites of integration. Company Christmas parties and annual picnics are examples of such rites. Paying attention to rites may be one of the first steps in developing the skills needed to be a good manager. Generally, attention is directed to the person to be removed from office, and his behavior is publicly associated with the problems and failures of the organization. Collective bargaining and arbitration are examples. Rites and ceremonies have a number of consequences for organizations. Many authors note that in their rediscovery of culture, organizational researchers have provided a very narrow focus by concentrating their attention on such single, discrete elements as symbols, myths, or stories.