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What Are the Different Types of Corporate Culture?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

Corporate culture is a type of organizational culture that encompasses the various beliefs, values, and other cultural elements that define a particular company. There are many different types of corporate culture that often mix together, even within individual companies. Some are defined by the founders of a company when they build the business with specific goals based in certain values. Others are imported when companies hire more employees with diverse knowledge, experience, and values. Over time, these different values held by management, employees, and other people important to the company mingle to form the overall corporate culture.

There are several different types of corporate culture that define the organizational and, to a significant extent, the social aspects of a given business. Some are strictly hierarchical and are aimed at control, stability, and internal efficiency. This is a type of culture and not just an organizational scheme because it reflects and enforces the manner in which employees interact, the values of the company, and the particular way that the company is built to achieve its goals. A similar corporate culture might be structured hierarchically but may be more focused on competition and on external concerns than on internal efficiency.

A corporate culture that is too firmly based on control and stability may eventually stagnate.
A corporate culture that is too firmly based on control and stability may eventually stagnate.

Some corporate cultures are based less on control and organization than on freedom and creativity. These emphasize creativity, flexibility, and innovation over strict organization and efficiency. Such a culture may be built based on the idea that strict organization and hierarchical structure stifles creativity. Employees will interact with each other and with their managers in a drastically different way than employees in more control-oriented corporate cultures. Individuals and teams may, for instance, have far more autonomy.

Maintaining a controled structure sounds complex, but it mostly is based on clear communication.
Maintaining a controled structure sounds complex, but it mostly is based on clear communication.

There are advantages and disadvantages associated with all different types of corporate cultures. One that is too firmly based in control and stability, for instance, may stagnate because it suppresses free thought, individuality, and creativity. On the other hand, a company that allows its employees too much autonomy may be inefficient if the employees are not particularly self-motivated. The culture defined by a company's founders also may clash with that which emerges from the employees in the workplace. A cohesive corporate culture can, however, unify employees, increase overall job satisfaction, and greatly improve a business's efficiency and productivity.

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Discussion Comments


I have never worked for a larger corporation, so I was surprised when a friend told me how frustrating one aspect of his corporate culture was - this aspect was the use of the blind copy feature on email.

This feature allows you to send an email to someone while it is sent to someone else at the same time without the recipient knowing that it went to someone else.

It seems this would really break down the trust portion of the company culture unless this practice was addressed.


I find myself in a strange, confused type of corporate culture. I work at an advertising agency, and while we are supposed to be creative, we also have strict rules to follow.

There are so many guidelines for dealing with customers that I’m sure I never get all of them right. Some of them even seem to contradict each other. I often get nervous during presentations, because my boss is there along with the client, and I am striving to remember everything I am supposed to do.

The graphic artists are expected to come up with outstanding, original work, but they have to do so within a short frame of time. If a client makes them redesign something more than twice, they get punished for it. To me, this is just wrong, because some clients can never be satisfied.


The corporation I work for gives its employees lots of freedom to do as they see fit. They set up the original hierarchy, and we all know who has control over what. We take orders from certain people, and usually, no one has a problem with that.

The employees are treated so well that a good vibe pervades the office. Everyone respects everyone else, and friendliness is just part of the culture.

Because we are given so much freedom when handling projects, the bosses are very particular about the type of person they hire. They check references and ask pointed questions during interviews that help them identify personality types, and they only hire self-motivated people.


I work in an office that prides itself on professionalism. This means that there are plenty of restrictions in place to ensure that we all present a cohesive company image to visitors and clients.

The guys have to wear suits and ties, and the ladies have to wear blouses with slacks, skirts, or dresses that provide plenty of coverage. Showing cleavage is not allowed, and neither are short skirts.

The employees have to have approval from the boss for all projects. We have no autonomy. The only liberty we have is the freedom to visit the restroom whenever we need to.

An environment like this requires discipline. It can be really stifling for free spirited individuals, but the pay and the benefits are enough to keep most people behaving as they should.


I work as a designer for a t-shirt company, and our corporate culture is relaxed and encourages creativity. My coworkers and I are highly satisfied with our jobs, because we feel we can do our best work when encouraged to be ourselves.

When I was hired, the boss told me that the company uniform was any t-shirt they had designed and blue jeans. He showed me a catalog and let me pick out several t-shirts as my uniform. He also said that I would get a free t-shirt with every design that I created, if they decided to use it.

All of the workers get together every morning for soda, coffee, and various snacks provided by the company. We bounce humorous ideas off of each other while we eat. I think that we are able to come up with much better ideas in an environment like this than we would in a strict office.


I think one of the biggest indicators of the culture that exists inside a corporate office is how comfortable and laid back the employees are with one another. I am thinking particularly about whether employees swear around each other.

Lets be honest, most people swear. Some do it more than others but few people go long without some kind of cuss word passing across their lips.

In some corporate environments this is extremely frowned upon. Some offices maintain an unspoken moral code that rivals a church. Employees who swear openly are either reprimanded or silently judged to the detriment of their careers.

However, other offices are very open and permissive. They acknowledge that work is stressful and that employees want to interact with one another as human beings more than just colleagues. Swearing is not encouraged of course but there is no censure when it happens.

I am not saying that one environment is better than another. I have been in offices that seemed impossibly strict and other offices that were like being on a pirate ship. It depends a lot on the kind of environment that employees are looking for


One of the biggest news stories from the last few days has been the retirement of Steve Jobs from Apple, the company he founded and lead to be one of the worlds most successful consumer electronics companies.

A lot of the commentators on the news have wondered if Apple can continue its amazing record of success in Job's absence. Many of them have noted that one of the biggest difficulties will be maintaining the corporate culture that Jobs instituted and which has been instrumental to their success.

This will be much easier said than done. The pressures of the market place force companies to make difficult concessions all the time. One of the quickest and easiest areas to begin making cuts and changes is within the corporate office itself. Jobs was willing to make sacrifices in order to maintain the corporate philosophy that he believed was so important to their success. Time will tell if Jobs successor can make the same commitment.


I think that a company has to have a balance. It is fine to have a formal working environment with a lot of structure because at least this way the employee knows the rules of the organization, but there also has to be an element of fun.

Companies should also offer outings like employee picnics and holiday parties so that the employees can relax a little and have some fun while they bond together. My husband used to work for a company that had team building seminars twice a year for the employees.

My husband said it was a lot of fun and his team did get to know each other and also were more motivated to work when they got back. This company was also big on charity work and required its employees to offer so many hours of community service a year which was also part of the company culture.

In fact, the company gave up to three months off if they employee wanted to volunteer for a cause anywhere around the world. The company felt that this would develop more compassion in its employees and they would also experience more personal satisfaction from the charity work that will spill over to their jobs.


I worked in company environments that were more formal in which employees wore business attire and had to adhere to longer working hours, and I have also worked in corporate environments that were more flexible and not as structured that also allowed employees some discretion on their work attire and how they went about their work.

I feel that you really have to find out the company culture while you are interviewing with a company. I have interviewed people that come from very creative backgrounds that would be excellent employees but they didn’t like the structure and culture of the company and wanted to work more flexible schedules.

I think that this is why a lot of people leave companies because they did not take into account the culture of the company when they interviewed for the job. Some people are not cut out to work sixty hour work weeks every week. They prefer to work a standard forty hour a week schedule.

There are some companies in which it is frowned upon if an employee leaves before the boss does. It sounds silly but it happens.

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    • A corporate culture that is too firmly based on control and stability may eventually stagnate.
      By: Rido
      A corporate culture that is too firmly based on control and stability may eventually stagnate.
    • Maintaining a controled structure sounds complex, but it mostly is based on clear communication.
      By: Minerva Studio
      Maintaining a controled structure sounds complex, but it mostly is based on clear communication.