According to Schein 1905, organisational culture has three levels: (1) Observable artifacts of culture; (2) Shared values; and (3) Common assumptions.
Each of these is described in detail in this section.
(1) Observable Art Artifacts:
These are the symbols of culture in the physical and social work environment. These are visible accessible and tangible. These include the Rowing:
(a) Ceremonies and Rites:
These include activities which are enacted repeatedly on important occasions. For example convocations of universities, prize distribute ceremonies reflect the culture in educational institutions. Ceremonies bind members of an organization together.
Other examples of ceremonies such as school/college picnics, annual day programmes, farewell parties to final students and retiring staff etc. encourage inter-personal communication and a sense of affiliation and thereby bring about a common culture.
(b) Organizational Heroes:
It includes the behaviour of the top management people and their leadership styles and reflects the philosophy of the institution. These top leaders become the role models and personify organizational culture, reinforce the values of the culture and represent what an institution stands for. Modelled behaviour is a powerful learning tool.
(c) Cultural Symbols:
These communicate organizational culture by unspoken messages. Examples of these are school or NCC uniforms, school anthem or college and university ‘song’, flag of the institution, bigger rooms/cabins/tables for the principal, supervisor/vice-principal and the senior staff and so on.
Some of the material artifacts created by an institution speak of its cultural orientation and make a statement about the institution.
According to Lavinson and Rosenthal (1984), stories and myths about institution’s heroes are powerful tools to reinforce cultural values throughout the institution and specially in orienting new employees.
These stories and myths often filter through a ‘cultural network’ and remind employees as to ‘why we do things in a particular way’.
An example of a story in (he educational setting is that of a senior faculty member of a university who sat up the whole night and stayed in the university so as to make preparations for the annual convocation programme with the objective of making if a perfect and grand occasion.
(2) Shared Values:
Values are the next and deeper level of culture and are reflected in the way individuals actually behave. They reflect a person’s underlying belief as to what should be and what should not be. Values are those principles and qualities that shape our behaviour and thinking.
According to Terpstra and David (1985), values are emotionally charged priorities. They are learned through socialization, family environment, school and college environments, religious influences, mass media and peer influences.
Values are invoked to justify beliefs and actions that are emotionally prioritized. Every culture has specific and defined priorities for various aspects of social.
Peters and Waterman (1982) suggest that every institution should develop ‘a dominant and coherent set of shared values’ so that all members will have a predictable behaviour pattern which is consistent with the organizational philosophy and group cohesion is enhanced. An example of shared values in the educational setting is the emphasis given to computer assisted learning.
(3) Common Assumptions:
Assumptions are at the deepest and most fundamental level of cultural diagnosis. These are deeply held beliefs which are not objectively observable but manifest themselves in the behaviour of people so strongly that any violation of such beliefs would be unthinkable. Some examples of assumptions include:
(a) People are basically good. This assumption is reflected in an institution’s emphasis on trust.
(b) Both students and teachers are willing to learn, grow, develop and achieve if they are given appropriate opportunities. This assumption is reflected in an institution’s staff development programmes and innovative curricula.
(c) People are motivated by challenges and enjoyable work. This assumption is reflected by the process of goal setting and goal achievement in a participative manner.
These assumptions have their roots in the larger society’s social and cultural values.