How organisational culture and national culture impact your organisation

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Think of a typical restaurant experience and how it plays out in each country you have visited. From how the food is produced to how it is presented in a restaurant as well as the social etiquette you have to follow at that restaurant. Just that one experience is a reflection of how culture is a phenomenon that can be seen in everything we do.

A buzzword - demystified:

Culture has become a buzzword over the past couple of years. Culture is specific to a group of people and a learned, rather than inherited behaviour. Culture has many layers and is about how different groups of people distinguish themselves from each other.

National culture vs Organisational culture:

National Culture:

Refers to a group of people who have been brought up within a given country. In comparison to others, these individuals tend to share certain expectations of how things should be done and values around these expectations. National culture takes shape at a formative age, these impressions are completely formed by the age of 12 to 14 and are a product of the environment we grow up in. It’s easier to sense National Culture in larger groups because individual qualities supersede national qualities in smaller groups or if you interact with one individual.

If you deal with a large number of French people at the same time, the individual qualities of each will be less noticeable and you'll begin to see what they have in common. However, this only becomes truly clear if you are able to see them in comparison to another group. For example, how a large number of French business people compare in a meeting with a large group of British business people. When all other elements are relatively equal, this is when the differences of National Culture will become most apparent.

national culture

Organisational Culture:

A large group of German people from a specific organisation in comparison to a another similar-sized group from a US corporation can demonstrate differences in National Culture. However, this group of people would not represent German or American culture as a whole. In this case, it would be wrong to assume that the culture of their organisation is identical to the culture of their country. This is because it involves two different levels of society. The company would have a culture of some sort; this is what we call Organisational Culture.


The definition we use for Organisational Culture is the way in which people in an organisation relate to each other, their work and the outside world, in comparison with other organisations. Your Organisational Culture shows how your organisation works: how things get done, the interactions between people, and employee relationships to their work and the outside world. Organisational Culture is a phenomenon that is measured by looking at the practices within the organisation, and how those practices differ from other organisations. Most of the activities within the organisation are then designed to meet those objectives and requirements.  You can lean on Hofstede Insights’ advanced tools  to measure the practices within the organisation to establish if the culture is functional or not. We can tell you whether the current way of working supports the execution of the goals the organisation has or hinders them.

Are you looking for consultation on Organisational culture?

How National Culture and Organisational Culture are different

National Culture is based on the values that groups of individuals prefer or expect to be carried out. Organisational Culture is based on the practices that are carried out within the organisation. The difference in the root of National Culture and Organisational Culture also impacts how fast they can change. National Culture changes very slowly as the values of a collective group of people are often based on their past experiences, as well as family and historical experiences. The changes in National Culture are relatively inconsequential over time.


Organisational  Culture is ‘what we do’ in an organisation, and is manifested through the Symbols, Rituals, Beliefs, Attitudes, Behaviours of the people collectively in an organisation.   National Culture determines how we emotionally relate to ‘what we do’ in an organisation.

Organisational Culture is based on practices and is something that can vary greatly from organisation to organisation, regardless of the country or industry. In addition, Organisational Culture is impacted by a CEO or a charismatic leader or management team, and can shift over short periods.

Creating Organisational Culture change can create a lasting impact on intercultural management

Most organisations wanting to learn about Organisational Culture are interested in the possibility of transforming their culture. Hofstede Insights has vast experience in aligning working practices and communication in multicultural teams. We have helped companies improve cross-cultural teamwork. We truly believe that for lasting transformation, we have to focus first on the Organisational Culture.

The first step is choosing the best Organisational Culture for you. At the end of the day, if you want to create cultural change, you have to understand where you currently are, where you want to go, and the actions that will take you from point A to point B. We can help you in this transition with our advanced tools.

Reach out to us to discuss the challenges faced by your organisation and practical steps to align your Culture and Strategy.

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