Organizational Culture, Adaptation, and Performance

Brahm, F and Poblete, J (2024) Organizational Culture, Adaptation, and Performance. Organization Science. ISSN 1047-7039 (In Press) OPEN ACCESS


Prior research emphasizes how organizational culture can hinder organizational adaptation. In this study, we investigate how organizational culture can help promote organizational adaptation to environmental changes, using a formal model from cultural evolution theory. In the model, organizational members face a trade-off between innovating versus following tradition (because environmental changes are uncertain). Members can also decide to help others who are following the tradition, thereby improving its diffusion. Organizational leaders shape the culture of their organization, which influences members’ decisions to choose innovation or tradition or to help others following tradition. Culture comprises two dimensions: beliefs and prosocial values. We find that increasing the accuracy of beliefs leads to improvements in both innovation and following tradition, thereby mitigating the trade-off between them and boosting adaptation and performance. On prosocial values, we find that increasing their intensity reduces the cost of following tradition but at the expense of reduced adaptation, resulting in an inverted-U relationship between intensity of prosocial values and performance. Overall, we show how leaders can fine-tune the dimensions of organizational culture to foster improvements in adaptation and performance. The formal model we introduce is novel to the literature and offers a way of studying adaptation to a changing environment and to incorporate social learning into models of adaptation under bounded rationality. Funding: J. Poblete was supported by Instituto Sistemas Complejos de Ingenieria [Grant ANID PIA/PUENTE AFB230002]. Supplemental Material: The online appendix is available at .

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2024 10:37
Date of first compliant deposit: 02 Apr 2024
Subjects: Corporate culture
Organisational behaviour
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2024 17:17

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