Culture as a Normative Control Tool in Organizations

Proponents of corporate culture as an informal control mechanism regard culture as a management tool that can be manipulated though the actions of top management. Culture is a management tool; however, there is a counter-view that corporate culture is a rather complex construct. People argue that culture should be regarded as something that an organization ‘is’, not as something that an organization ‘has’; it is not an independent variable, nor can it be created, discovered, or destroyed by the whims of management. Despite the academic debate surrounding corporate culture as a construct, for practicing managers, caught up with the need to control and recognizing the flaws in the more formal and bureaucratic mechanisms, the lure of cultural control as a management tool is highly seductive.

Significance of Cultural and Normative Forms of Control

From the last few years, organisations have become interested in organisational control and employees’ self-hood. This control form was taken into consideration because of employees’ behavior, values, and emotions. The organisation practice varied highly. Some provides a bad picture, arguing that employees subjected to ‘cultural engineering’ become anxious, fragmented, burnt out and prone to inauthentic play in organisational culture. Others argue that workers are not so easily influenced. They can and do resist the constructing and maintaining robust identities. Employees can even twist attempts to control them to their own advantage with organisational control and the self.

Normative control is tries to or attempt to provide direction to the required members from whom efforts are required and thereby control the desired felling, thought and experience that guide their actions. In terms of normative control, members behave for the best awareness of the company not for the reason that they are physically forced, but because it is a form of economic rewards and satisfy the member of the organization. It is not just behaviors of them and actions that are evaluated, specified and rewarded or punished. People are driven by their commitment to organization, its success, its goals and moreover their own satisfaction. These are elicited by a multiplicity of managerial exhortations, actions and appeals. Thus in normative manage, membership is founded not only on the behavioral or economic transaction traditionally associated with work organization, but, more crucially, on an observed transaction, one in which representative rewards are exchanged for a right orientation to the organization. In this operation a role is imposed and fashioned that includes not only behavioral rules but articulated strategy for experience. In little, under normative manage it is the employee’s inexpressible cause subjective experience-that claimed in the first name of the business interest.

Normative control draws its root from conception lineage in organisation. Normative control operates internally by moulding common beliefs, values and attitude. However it is rigid in terms of homogeneous cultures and the cynicism. It tend to make employee to live a dual identity, and collective from become different that his real identity or persona. It has also been noticed recently, whereby normative alignment is downplayed or even redundant in favour of “market rationality”. The new trend is claimed to be that of the market in terms of employees’ personal marketability on the one hand and job insecurity on the other.

It emphasis that Employees should be “existentially empowered”, but should be expected to share organizational value or oppose them. They are supposed to express more of their true selves by breaking traditional boundary, like being non formal at place of work. Diversity and incongruence with (traditional/bureaucratic) organisational norms are key things. Emerging “best practice” and “best places to work”, resonate both with traditional human relations interventions concerning employees’ informal involvement in the organisation and with contemporary political discourses of liberalism and diversity (especially in relation to sexuality and lifestyle). These organisations encourage employees to be themselves rather than conforming to an externally engineered, homogeneous and organizationally based identity. Key element of this apparent new freedom lies having fun at work.

We can thus notice a development in the management of fun from previously held belief about the emphasis on conformity and organisational loyalty associated with normative control, towards one on diversity and instrumentality, which seems more suited to relatively routine and otherwise tightly controlled work.

Corporate Culture and Normative Control

Corporate culture falls in the category of normative control. It can be defined a s a control system that “works in the organisation i.e. internally by providing people with specific attributes, which are required by the organisation for smooth functioning.” Manager have been searching effective control technique at their work place. Corporate control mechanism changes with the change in economics, technology, political scenario, social scenario etc. There is a need for efficiency and productivity, so there is increasing shift from the simple control to technical and gradually bureaucratic administration. It has changed through the decade. In 1900-1950, the keys to control were assembly lines, cost secretarial systems, and bureaucratic rules were the key principles of organizing production and cost reduction. Culture was never taken into consideration till 1970. But since then, it has become as important aspect of control. From there on, many books has been written on culture as a management tool to control and various techniques have been provided. The proponents argued that it will hamper employees’ performance because now, employees lack an association with the company, which is critical for improving business performance in a fast-changing environment. Many scholars argues that corporate cultures, which rely upon certain principles such as inculcating workplace values, motivation of the employees, greater freedom, organisational commitment, and team building, are most important factors for success in contemporary world. Corporate way of life is increasingly predictable as a vital means of controlling workplace activities. As the time passes, every business inculcate new values, new organization as per the changing atmosphere. Corporate way of life inculcates in the system in two ways, which are discussed here. First, corporate culture which is a form of normative control promotes team work in the organisation which further improves the productivity. It provides a platform which is equally shared by every employee of the organisation it increase their productivity, efficiency and commitment. As a result, there is healthy relationship among the member of the organisation facilitating cooperation and mutual accountability. Although to increase teamwork requires some change in team values, norms, and beliefs, because of which employees become more loyal to organisation. This change or manipulation is done by regular meeting in the top management conducting various training sessions etc. These activities are determined by the management or manager and taught to subordinates. Then the subordinate socialise with each other and learn new values. once they inculcate these values, they don’t need any external or outside control. The culture control in form of normative control is still not perfect and has some loop holes. Although this culture increases team spirit in organisation, employees feel intense pressure from peer group. Employees are under constant supervision from manager, they have to monitor their own performance and they should strive to achieve new heights. Peer competition is intense. This may lead to reduced sense of empowerment, ownership and participation. It further enhances negative emotions such as anxiety, ambivalence, fear, and loss confidence, pressure. Further, employees are prone to change which is a very common practice in organisation. Depending on different type of situations, the strength of their resistance can vary from a simple approach of indifference to a vigorous endeavor of manipulating important information. Such issues face up to the utopian presuppositions of a team background, and elevate doubts about its efficiency as a form of normative control.

Effectiveness of Corporate Culture as a Control Mechanism

A review of effectiveness dealing with the internalization of corporate values, organizational commitment, psychological ownership, and corporate identification provokes questions about the viability of corporate culture as a control mechanism. Rather much depends on individual employee responses that range from support to outright resistance, and may be moderated by variables, such as managerial action and the extent of violation of the psychological contract. It is concluded that, in the long run, it may not be in the best interests of management to have a strong corporate culture. A workforce of highly inculcated employees might, in fact, impede Management’s need for strategic changes.

The management has been concerned with the challenges faced by firms in integrating dispersed units without stifling local subsidiary initiatives; while simultaneously facilitating cross border transfers of resources, technology, knowledge and information. The challenge has been to achieve a workable balance between centralized strategic direction and control and local responsiveness, ensuring that the organization does not sink into confusion and dysfunctional behaviour. The ability to achieve this balance is affected by a range of external forces such as the actions of competitors, advances in technology, and host government policies.

The effectiveness could be brought with inclusion of informal communication though channels such as personal relationship networks that cross organization functions and national borders, enhanced through staff transfers and international teamwork and projects; and normative control through shared values (that is, internalization of a corporate culture). This argument supports the use of corporate culture as a way of uniting a dispersed organization through commitment to a common purpose and behaviour built on shared values.

The Consequences of Control

Recognition of the trend toward normative control has brought with it two distinct views in its consequences. For supporters and proponents, it is the wave of the future, a solution not only to the economic and organizational problems but to its deeper existential dilemmas as well. In this view, there need not be a conflict between organization and individual organizational forms based on normative control are potentially liberating; and personal development and growth are possible in the service corporate goals. People from Human Relations strata, are troubled by the dehumanizing potential of industrialization and its political ramifications, felt that finding meaning and satisfaction through work associations was both necessary and possible. Numerous others have taken up this theme. In this view, the inherent conflict between the individual and the collective may be transformed into cooperation that is in the interest of both company and employee. Normative control is conceptualized as an appeal to the potential existing in people. To the extent that they are shaped, a shaping is framed as process of education, personal development, growth, and maturity-in fact, a development of a better, healthier self, saved from the threat of anomie and alienation and the pathology of conflict.

If supporters of normative control in industry promise a self-regained, critics warn of a soul lost. of the insidious influence of organizations on the personal and emotional life of members, where a manager is tempted into a practice of a tyranny more and more invasive than that which it means to replace. Normative control is a sophisticated and manipulative form of tyranny in the workplace, a threat to both freedom and dignity, an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Forced to explain the lack of overt coercion and the seeming cooperation of the victims. Under normative control the workers owe not only a hard day’s work to the corporation but also their demeanor and affections. Here, control leads to be a much more oppressive system-totalitarian in the logic of involving the total actions of the worker. Deference and hard work are no longer enough; now the ‘soulful’ firm demands the soul of worker, or at least the identity of workers.

The criticism does not stop here. Not only is normative control, in the view of its critics, the moral equivalent of tyranny; it is also dysfunctional. Others suggest it undermines organizational performance. The dire consequences of successful normative control are, in their view, embodied in the “organization man” or the “bureaucratic personality,” for whom identification with the organization overrides all else and leads to the inversion of means and ends, a preference for conformity, a predilection for groupthink, a fear of creativity and initiative, and a dearth of ethics. Still others suspect that normative control is largely rhetoric, a disguise for more traditional practices, and in any case not practical. Although not entirely consistent with each other, all agree that there is cause to worry about the kind of society, the kind of organizations, and the kind of citizens such forms of control produce. Thus, the recognition of the rise of normative control generated conflicting and often contradictory images of its consequences and led to a continuing debate: is normative control a form of tyranny or a movement of a liberation? Is it failure, or does it works only too well? What the various debates concerning the practice, meaning, and consequences of normative control have in common, however, is a notable paucity of evidence coupled with a distinct preference for hyperbole, abstraction, and metaphor. That the managerial mind was and is fascinated by the possibility normative control of subordinates is easy to document, well established, and not very surprising. With regard the actual practice of normative control and its consequences for those subjected to it, evidence is neither clear nor coherent.