The Competing Values Framework

Competing models of management refer to those models that attempt to explain the competing value framework of organizational management. The organizational management sometimes faces the management challenge of balancing between two or more important processes that affect the operation of an organization. The competing values framework is a model that was developed by Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron to assess the organizational culture. The theory of competing values framework, in essence, shows the interrelationship between processes that enable the organization to focus on the internal environment or external environment. The area of focus of an organization leads to the development of the organizational culture and often results in a balancing of two or more competing value factors. This implies that the organizational competing values framework models have a role in the success of an organization.

The competing values framework can be used in constructing an organizational culture profile. An organizational culture profile can be drawn by establishing the organization’s dominant culture type characteristics.

The competing values framework is based on two dimensions. One dimension emphasizes flexibility, discretion and dynamism on the one end and stability, order and control at the other. The second dimension lays emphasis on the internal orientation, integration and unity versus external orientation, differentiation and rivalry. The dimensions produce four quadrants that cluster distinct groups of organizational effectiveness indicators. The quadrants not only compete on the opposite sides but on the diagonals as well.

In this respect the overall culture profile of an organization can be identified as:

The Competing Values Framework of Organization Culture

  1. Clan: an organization that concentrates on internal maintenance with flexibility, concern for people, and sensitivity for customers.
  2. Hierarchy: an organization that focuses on internal maintenance with a need for stability and control.
  3. Adhocracy: an organization that concentrates on external positioning with a high degree of flexibility and individuality.
  4. Market: an organization that focuses on external maintenance with a need for stability and control.

Those organisations which adopt a Clan culture are the most collaborative and least competitive of the models, and promote an environment similar to a large supportive family network. There is a strong emphasis on mentoring and supportive colleagues, who are bonded together by shared goals and values. Employees operating under this style are more likely to feel like they are able to express their opinions freely and comfortably to their peers. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged to ensure everyone has a voice to improve the working environment. This type of company will also communicate more often, and will feel supportive to staff at all levels of the structure. When a business focusses its attention to the people who make up the company, there will be an increase in employee positivity and wellbeing. This particular culture could lead to over-collaboration where employees might struggle to independently come up with ideas and suggestions, if they have been relying on others for a long period of time. Whilst it is important for senior management to build a rapport with staff and be approachable, this type of culture may make it difficult to set boundaries within the team and be authoritative when required. Employees might also feel like they cannot single themselves out and challenge a wrongly held group assumption, therefore never expressing how they truly feel. Another disadvantage of this culture is that a relaxed office environment could lead to less productivity and inappropriate behaviour if staff feel they can get away with it.

A Hierarchy culture is a model which has clearly defined levels within the structure and procedures are in place to determine workplace activities. There are levels of management within this to monitor staff and ensure operations are running efficiently. The line of authority is obvious to staff, therefore they know who they need to liaise with if they have an issue or a query. Departments containing similar staff members working towards shared goals are likely to see strong bonds form, increasing efficiency as a team. Another advantage is that employees who are working within one particular area and solely focusing on their own work, will become experts in that field which is highly valuable to an organisation. Unfortunately this culture is inflexible and is not always understanding towards the personal lives of its employees, potentially leading to demotivation or even causing a high turnover of staff. The company may also face higher output costs because of the use of middle management within the structure.

An Adhocracy culture shows a strong ability to adapt quickly to a change in conditions. Employees who work this way are flexible, reactive, welcoming to change and are encouraged to take risks. Working groups are formed based on project need, and dissolved again depending on the kind of expertise and demand required at the time. This is an optimal use of knowledge, skills and resources available to an organisation, which will therefore run more efficiently as a result. The overall feeling of an organisation operating in this way would be co-responsibility and mutual understanding across the departments. Within individual staff members, creativity and open-mindedness is promoted and are strong skills to have when moving the company forward towards a new vision. Unlike a hierarchy, there is no clearly defined leadership, which could lead to a chaotic environment where roles and responsibilities are somewhat neglected and important tasks could be left incomplete. It could also mean that solving routine problems could be more difficult than it needs to be because there is a lack of formalized procedures, leading to inconsistency across staff members. Working in this way could lead to difficulties in planning and allocating resources to where they need to be and keeping to project deadlines.

A Market culture has an emphasis on competitiveness against other organisations and also between employees, who are encouraged to set difficult goals to complete. The performance of staff is closely monitored, which leads to direct punishment or reward depending on the outcome. Under this culture, it is thought that because the focus is on individual performance, it will lead to greater achievement both for them and for the organisation. An advantage to this is that if employees are motivated to achieve bigger results, they are more likely to generate more income. The nature of this culture also means a strong dedication to market research, therefore being aware of trends and staying ahead of the competitors. The Market culture encourages employees to be incredibly results-driven with a hard working attitude, otherwise their results and achievements will slip. They will be keen to build upon their current skills and learn more knowledge to be the best they can. However, the constant emphasis on good results can lead to presenteeism and staff suffering poor health when under prolonged periods of stress. The working environment might be a very poor atmosphere and a feeling that staff are only looking out for themselves, which can harm team morale and relationships, therefore making partnership working difficult in the future.

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