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date: 27 February 2020

Organizational Theory and Culture

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Organizational theory comprises various approaches to organizational analysis and attempts to explain the mechanisms of organizations. Organizations represent structured social units that are managed to meet specific aims and needs as well as to pursue shared goals visions. Various disciplines and bodies of knowledge have contributed to organizational theory. Some of the theories of organization are the classical theory, neoclassical theory, contingency theory, human relations theory, and modern systems theory. These theories draw upon multiple perspectives including modern and postmodernist views. In education management and policy, organizational theories need to be understood within the micro and macro realms of educational settings. Another aspect that impacts organizational theory especially within educational settings is organizational culture. Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, beliefs, and values that governs how people in an organization behave and act. Shared values and beliefs in organizations that evolve over the years strongly influence how members of an organization behave and perform their duties and tasks among others. Every organization develops and maintains a unique culture that acts as a guide and conditions the behavior and roles of the members of the respective organizations. Organizational culture can be understood by examining the levels of organizational culture that include artifacts of the organization, advocated values, and underlying assumptions within the organization. There are also various principles that govern organizational culture that may help explain organizations and their members. Within organizational theories, it is also important to examine how organizational culture impacts various practices of organizations and how organizational culture governs and shapes members and the aims of organizations. The various organizational theories and the organizational culture perspective can provide better understanding of organizations and their members and practices, especially within educational settings and contexts.