Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
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Despite organizational culture may be influenced by the events taking place in the exogenous environment, the full accountability for shaping and developing corporate culture should invariably rest with an organization founder and management (Who develops, shapes and controls organizational culture? http://rosariolongo.blogspot.com/2014/10/who-develops-shapes-and-controls.html). The identification of the organizational values and of the type of behaviour individuals should exhibit in the workplace as well as the adoption of a metaphor aptly summarizing, explaining, reinforcing and in many respects linking all of these components together, so as to help individuals to establish a clear line of sight between them, should be in fact invariably regarded as a typical business founder responsibility.

Corporate culture is increasingly assuming a greater importance to employers, who are learning from experience that this cannot be merely considered as a discretionary organizational component, but rather as the founding pillar of organizational strategy, whose pursuance it is essentially intended to support, sustain and ease. Business culture requires hence the constant employer attention and active control in that its unintended derailment might produce irreversible, harmful effects on the execution of an organization strategy and ultimately upon the business stability.

Corporate culture, nonetheless, is not only exposed to the pressure coming from the exogenous environment, but it is indeed also sorely subject to the effects produced by the occurrences taking place in the endogenous environment. Amongst these, particularly detrimental to an organization may prove to be the deliberate or inadvertent employee attempt to alter or reinterpret the culture fostered by the business founder. This circumstance is likely to occur when a business founder leaves the organization and when the management diverts its attention away from the importance of consistently and continually fostering the culture originally developed and nourished by the business founder.

The executives and managers of an organization should be particularly cautious and vigilant from this point of view and should do whatever they can to prevent employees from influencing corporate culture, whether their reinterpretation or redefinition may threaten to derail the founder original vision and spirit. This may prove to be a definitely daunting feat to perform in that this employee initiative may be actually triggered by the business management incapability to firmly, convincingly and consistently foster and sustain, for a wide range of reasons, the existing culture. Yet, in some instances, managers might not become aware of the problem until it may be too late, let alone to resolve it once clearly emerged.

The role of HR
The first question to ask is whether HR actually has a role in corporate culture. Since culture is essentially concerned with the organizational values, shared beliefs, individual behaviour and the norms stemming from these, which definitely affect individuals at large, and HR is essentially concerned with people, it can be contended that HR unquestionably has a role to play in corporate culture.

This role, notwithstanding, should not be intended in the sense that HR should be fully involved in the definition and identification of the right or most suitable culture in that, as discussed earlier, this should be indeed invariably regarded as a specific founder duty. Being in charge of the development of human capital management practices and in its strategic advisory role, HR is in a commanding position to competently support an organization founder in developing his/her vision and translate this into corporate culture, but can hardly act as a substitute for the founder in this instance.

Taking heed of the circumstance that culture supports strategy execution, to which this should be hence strictly interrelated, it may be argued that corporate culture is somewhat of in between strategy execution and human capital management. It essentially contains the guiding principles for employers to attain competitive advantage over their competitors building on their most valuable resource, that is to say human capital. As such, corporate culture aims at fostering the behaviour which the employer considers as the most appropriate to achieve competitive edge and hence at developing the organization distinctive approach to “the way we do things around here.”

It can be hardly believed that an organization may achieve competitive advantage whether its management does not foster a corporate culture enabling the business to effectually execute its strategy. The success attained by the organization will contribute in turn to reinforce the individual belief that the behaviour endorsed by the management essentially represents a recipe for success. HR should thus, first and foremost, support the organization management so as to ensure that each manager properly fulfils his/her duty (Table 1 – The role of HR in Corporate Culture).

The role played by HR in corporate culture

Dear Rosario_Longo,
No other function other than HR plays significant role in shaping the organisation's culture nevertheless, this role depends on empowerment of HR. What role HR will play if there is no empowerment to speak of? In many companies erstwhile personnel department is rechristened as HR department. This rechristening did not change perceptions of staff towards HR that is different matter.
Classic case is Infosys. After Vishal Sikka took over as CEO, he has brought significant change in the Infosys. What he could do why HR during the tenure of previous CEOs could not do?
More than HR, it is leadership that plays a significant role in shaping the culture. HR executes the the shape decided by leadership. These factors cannot be ignored.
Dinesh Divekar

I agree with Dinesh. Unless the HR is empowered and assigned the role of a partner in culture building, it will be difficult for HR to align HR processes and practices to the values,ethics and beliefs,enunciated by the founder or the CEO or the Senior leadership.The onus, thus, lies on the founder/CEO for as much supporting the culture through HR as for founding it. For example, it can not promote quality and competency without an objective and transparent performance appraisal system.It should be given a free hand in installing one and the Senior leadership shall uphold such measure and shall not tamper with it to bring in their subjective considerations to install people of their choice at higher positions or elite training programmes. This erodes employees' faith in the values which the organisation which it professes so loudly from the roof tops.

Dear Both,
Thank you so much for your comments, first of all. According to your entries I'd believe that none of you have read the full article.
Mr Dinesh Divekar wrote:
More than HR, it is leadership that plays a significant role in shaping the culture. HR executes the the shape decided by leadership. These factors cannot be ignored.
Well, this is actually what I essentially maintain in the article, providing arguments in support of this view. I'd personally suggest you to remove "Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance" from you post. Not only appears it offensive, but each of us expresses personal opinions and viewpoints based on experience, which in a global platform might not be shared by all the readers. But nobody can claim what what other write is "false knowledge."
Many thanks,
Rosario Longo

Dear Mr.Rosario Longo,

It is not correct to say that I have not read the article.I agree with the article that HR has a major role to play in supporting the culture initiative of the founder or the CEO. What I said was that HR shall be supported by the Senior leadership in propagating the culture.You may be right if the last para supports this inference.However I would have loved it, if it were more clearly brought out.It is not usually the case of HR not supporting the founder in translating the vision of the founder into a corporate culture but it is mostly the other way round. Why I said this is that I have seen in some organisations that the culture statements are mostly relegated to walls or confined to glass frames or find only verbal support of the management in organisational functions or staff meetings but the management does little in supporting HR when it goes to them with some employee engagement initiatives on the ground that it costs the company.Otherwise why talent is leaving even some blue chip companies and is joining start ups?


Dear Mr. Saikumar,
I agree with you as to the circumstance that sometimes an organization management does not appropriately foster the organizational culture developed by an organization founder. The distant and recent past have showed us that this undesirable practice produces harmful effects, sometimes indeed irreversible and I'm sure I did cover this aspect.
As to the reasons why employees leave organizations, albeit inappropriate culture enactment does indeed play a role, I think that there really is a wide array of reasons why employees leave. Absolutely, inconsistent corporate culture enactment and a change of culture definitely play a considerable role, too.
Many thanks,

Dear Rosario Longo,

I have not opposed directly or contradicted to what I have said. All that I have said is that HR can shape company's culture provided HR has sufficient empowerment.

Writing views on specific subject cannot be exclusive preserve of particular person. I did not write article on organisation culture, however, I have been writing my views as and when query on this subject came up in this forum. You may go through my following two replies of the year 2012:




In my second reply I have given responsibility of the Directors on shaping the organisation's culture.

Lastly, I have been including statement "Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance"in my signature block for the years together. Thousands of members have been reading my replies and so this statement. However, none felt it offensive. Your personal suggestions on removal of this statement, probably emanates because you have taken it personally.

Anyway, let us not start new year on a negative note. I wish you happy and prosperous new year.


Dinesh Divekar

Dear Rosario
Thanks for your response.I entirely agree with you .True, there are a wide array of reasons for employees leaving an organisation including inappropriate culture. We are not on different pages on this issue.Having said this, let us thank the year 2015 for all the learning ,experience and wisdom it bestowed on us and welcome 2016 with the excitement of fulfilling all our hopes and aspirations.Wish you a happy NEW YEAR.

Dear Mr. Saikumar, Dear Mr. Divekar,
Thank you both for your further clarifications.
I'd like to take the opportunity to wish you both a Fantastic and Prosperous 2016.
With best regards,

Great post! I agree that HR's first job is to support management, but developing company culture comes from every individual. Most of the earlier employees will also play a bigger role in creating the culture. I actually wrote an article that you might find interesting, What does hockey have to do with building a great company culture?
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