Each organization has its own distinctive culture. It is a combination of the founders, past leadership, current leadership, crises, events, history and size. This results in rites: the routines, rituals and the ‘way we do things.’ These rites influence the individual behaviour on what it takes to be in good standing (the norm) and direct the appropriate behavior for each circumstance.
The climate is the feel of the organization, the individual and shared perceptions and attitudes of the organization’s members. While the culture is the deeply rooted nature of the organization that is a result of long-held formal and informal systems, rules, traditions, and customs, the climate is a short-term phenomenon created by the current leadership. Climate represents the beliefs about the ‘feel of the organization’ by its members. This individual perception of the feel of the organization comes from what the people believe about the activities that occur in the organization.
Organizational climate is directly related to the leadership and the management style of the leader, based on the values, attributes, skills and actions, as well as, the priorities of the leader. The ethical climate then is the ‘feel of the organization’ about the activities that have ethical content or those aspects of the work environment that constitute ethical behaviour.
The ethical climate is the feel about whether things are done right or the feel of whether employees behave the way they ought to. The behaviour (character) of the leader is the most important factor that impacts the climate.
On the other hand, culture is a long-term, complex phenomenon. Culture represents the shared expectations and self-image of the organization the mature values that create ‘tradition’ or the ‘way we do things here.’ Things are done differently in every organization. The collective vision that defines an institution is a reflection of its culture.
Individual leaders cannot easily create or change culture because culture is a part of the organization. Culture influences the characteristics of the climate by its effect on the actions and thought processes of the leader. However, everything a leader does will have an effect on the climate of the organization.