Key Dimensions of Organizational Culture

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss seven dimensions of culture in the Organizational Culture Profile.
A male employee sitting in front of a computer, dressed casually and smiling at the camera. He has a sticker on his forehead that reads “Be Happy.”

A general assumption is that employees should have the same basic values as the company for which they work.

Understanding a set of values that might be used to describe an organization’s culture helps us identify, measure, and manage that culture more effectively. One framework that provides insight into the different types of organizational culture is the seven-dimension Organizational Culture Profile (OCP). The OCP is an instrument initially developed by consultants Charles A. O’Reilly III, Jennifer Chatman, and David F. Caldwell to assess person-organization fit. In theory, employees should have the same basic cultural assumptions and values as the company for which they work.

According to the OCP, every corporation can be described as one of the following:


Not surprisingly, detail-oriented companies are all about meticulous attention to details. These companies tend to be in customer-oriented industries in which such precision is valued. For example, Four Seasons hotels are dedicated to providing customers with exactly the service they prefer, and they keep records on each guest’s experiences, preferences, and expectations. Employees working for Four Seasons must have an eye for detail and thrive on keeping meticulous records.


Individuals who want opportunities to invent new products or services should consider working for companies such as W.L. Gore and Associates, maker of GORE-TEX, or 3M. These companies not only encourage innovation but give employees company time to work on their own projects. This approach can result in a wide range of exciting new products developed by engineers or scientists working on their own.


Although some companies value cooperation, others value aggressive competition. Stratasys, a maker of 3D printers, has been willing to make enemies in order to survive and thrive. Stratasys expanded rapidly through growth, takeovers, and mergers to gain a dominant position in the 3D printer industry. Sometimes, Stratasys’ aggressive approach has gotten the company into legal battles—but the company has continued to perform well.


Outcome-oriented businesses are all about results. At RE/MAX, for example, employees are trained to sell products, and they are evaluated on their sales performance. RE/MAX, short for “Real Estate Maximums,” is an American international real estate company that operates through a franchise system. The company has held the number-one market share in the United States and Canada since 1999.


Employees at a stable corporation know exactly who is in charge, who to report to, and what they are expected to accomplish. Kraft Foods, for example, is a very stable organization with a strong bureaucracy. Although it is consistent, however, Kraft is not known for innovation or creativity.


If you work for a people-oriented corporation, you can expect the company to care about you. They value fairness and are supportive of individuals’ rights and dignity. Software company SAS is a good example of a people-oriented company that offers employees a wide range of individualized benefits, including on-site childcare. CEO Jim Goodnight’s philosophy is, “Treat employees like they make a difference, and they will.” The result: a loyal and dedicated workforce.


Employees who like to collaborate and cooperate with team members do well in team-oriented companies. Whole Foods, for example, expects its employees to function as members of teams—and to support other members of the team when necessary. This creates strong, solid relationships within working groups.

There is no one “best” type of corporate culture, and many larger corporations actually exhibit more than one culture. For example, the sales department may have an aggressive culture, whereas marketing is more team-oriented. In general, however, corporations can be grouped into the categories mentioned earlier.