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Corporate Culture Definition

In today’s competitive business world, any company that wants to stay ahead of the competition must clearly define its goals and have a clear roadmap of achieving them. At the core of achieving these goals is having a consistent company culture.

What is corporate culture?

Corporate culture, also known as company culture, refers to a set of beliefs and behaviors that guide how a company’s management and employees interact and handle external business transactions. Corporate culture can have a huge impact on the fortune of a company and its employees. There are four distinct types of culture: clan culture, adhocracy culture, market culture, and hierarchy culture. Each of these cultures has its own unique goals.

While each culture is unique, certain components define a great culture. Some essential features of corporate culture include vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place. There are other factors that influence culture. However, these six features can provide a firm foundation for shaping a strong culture.

A clear understanding of the corporate culture definition can help managers to define the right values and culture for their organization.

Four types of organizational culture

Four distinct types of organizational culture emerge from the Competing Values Framework. What are the four different types of corporate cultures? Here is a list of the cultures and what they are all about. 

  • Clan culture – clan cultures have a friendly, collaborative working environment. Similar to a large family, the leaders in the organization are regarded as mentors, and the organization comes together through tradition and loyalty. There is also more involvement and a greater focus on human resource development. Success has a lot to do with caring for people and addressing the needs of clients. The organization helps to achieve this by promoting participation, consensus, and teamwork. 
  • Adhocracy culture – this is a dynamic and creative working environment where both leaders and employees are innovators and risk-takers. Change and agility are core values, and success is defined by the creation of new products and services. The organization promotes individual freedom and initiative. 
  • Market culture – market culture focuses on getting down to business, getting work done, and achieving results. The environment is competitive, people are focused on goals, and the organization is results-based. The culture emphasizes winning and considers market penetration and stock as the definitions of success. 
  • Hierarchy culture – this type of culture is based on process and procedure, with operations being done in a formalized and structured work environment. Leaders monitor and facilitate adherence to tried and known ways of doing business while keeping costs and mistakes low. Success is defined by low costs, smooth planning and execution, and trustful delivery. 

As much as there are different types of corporate culture, they are all geared at helping to achieve set goals through a clear vision. Indeed, some of the functions of corporate cultures are to provide a sense of identity, define boundaries, and generate commitment from members of the organization.

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10 Characteristics of a Corporate Culture Definition

There are several factors to consider when thinking about how to describe company culture. These key elements of corporate culture define the culture of an organization and help to shape the organization’s personality. 

  • Details and sharable goals – the attention employees give at the workplace is important as it determines the success of any business. This is why the management has to define the degree of attention to be given to details to achieve the shared goals. 
  • Strong teamwork – this is one of the most important components of corporate culture. Compared to individual efforts, synergized teams are more likely to deliver better results. Organizations have to create teams that work together effectively through their complementary skills.
  • Continual training and learning – employees have to continually improve their skills and knowledge in order not only to perform better but also achieve growth. This includes personal, professional, and financial growth. 
  • Strong leadership – a strong leadership should provide clear communication, warmth, assistance, and support to their subordinates. This helps to earn the confidence of employees. 
  • Adaptability and agility – a great organizational culture should be adaptable to change, ensuring that adjustments can be made to meet the ever-changing challenges and deliver on the expectations of customers. 
  • Defined structure – this refers to the degree of supervision that helps to control employee behavior. It is also the extent to which clear objectives and performance expectations are created. 
  • People orientation – an organizational culture should focus on people, to create a better work environment for employees to work in. 
  • Innovation and risk-taking – places, where people take risks, have high chances of returns. Innovation also helps to place organizations as pioneers and industry leaders. Businesses should allow room for innovation and risk-taking. 
  • Outcome orientation – rather than focusing on processes, the business model should pay more attention to results. 
  • Aggressiveness – aggression, and market-dominating strategies in a stable work environment will help to deliver results and achieve the set goals.

One of the best ways to ensure that company values will help shape a great culture is to go through characteristics of organizational culture with examples. This will give managers a clear picture of how the company culture should be defined.

Company Culture Examples

There are several companies whose way of operation offers great lessons. The following entities have different company culture types but have relied on their beliefs and philosophies to achieve the great success they enjoy today.


This online shoe and clothing retailer hires new employees based on cultural fit. The management has established what the culture is and considers fitting in the culture to be an important aspect when hiring. The Zappos company culture results in happy employees, who in turn, ensure happy customers.


Twitter emphasizes a great working environment, friendly co-workers, and a team-oriented environment. The company encourages rooftop meetings, free meals for employees at the headquarters, unlimited vacations for some employees, among other perks. With one of the best culture statement examples, Twitter has employees who are good at and love what they do. The result is fulfilled employees who feel that what they do matters.


Google is one of the companies with the best corporate culture statements. As a company, Google has become synonymous with its culture for years, one that creates a competitive environment that still allows for good work-life balance. While the company has perks such as employee trips, parties, financial bonuses, free meals, and a great work environment, this is not what makes the culture great. Instead, it is the willingness and ability to review and revisit the culture every so often. This creates an evolving culture that ultimately leads to a successful business.

These corporate culture examples can help managers to define the unique culture of their organizations. However, it would be important to go through some bad corporate culture examples to get an idea of what sets these companies apart. 

Importance of Corporate Culture

The importance of corporate culture in a company’s success cannot be understated. By shaping how a business conducts its operations and reminding employees to work towards the set goals, the culture helps to promote growth. Here are some of the benefits that reveal the value of corporate culture. 

Employee retention

One of the benefits of corporate culture is that it helps in promoting employee retention. A company with great culture will not only attract the best talents in the industry but also keep employees for long. Employees love companies that promote their growth and provide a great working environment. Encouraging open communication and engagement will also make employees feel valued and appreciated. This ultimately saves the company the trouble of having to hire and train new employees now and then.

Great public brand

Today, the public brand of a company helps it to attract and retain customers. Company culture has a lot to do with how a business conducts its external transactions and connects to clients. A strong culture will promote a healthy and respectful relationship with customers and other stakeholders. When the stakeholders associate the company with positive values and behaviors, they are more likely to do business with the company.

Enhanced performance

Maximizing performance ensures that companies get the best out of the talents it hires. Market culture focuses on getting down to business, getting things done, and delivering results. With such culture employees are goal-oriented, directing their efforts towards pushing the company closer to its goals. The leadership also plays a role in ensuring that employees have what they need to deliver on their responsibilities. The result is enhanced performance that ensures growth in both market share and revenue.


Another of the most prominent benefits of organizational culture is its ability to help companies deliver quality products and services. Focusing on the highest standards and creating the ideal atmosphere for workers to deliver products that meet the high standards, helps to achieve customer satisfaction. Cultural standards for excellence will translate to quality products and services, helping the company earn a reputation for high quality.

Improved employee well-being

Company values and culture play an important role in determining how employees are treated and the perks they get. Companies with health-oriented programs and a great work-life balance ensure improved employee well-being. Similarly, providing room for the growth and development of employees go a long way in helping to have a happy and fulfilled workforce. The best company values do not overlook the physical and mental health of employees when stressing performance.

Knowledge of the importance of culture in a business environment helps managers to define company values and culture clearly. However, company culture has to be practiced to give it meaning. The defined values should guide the behavior of both the leadership and employees. In that way, the company culture will reveal itself in everyday activities and processes, and all employees will easily fit into the culture. 

Make training part of your corporate culture definition

Implementing company culture takes time and patience. For employees to understand and appreciate company values, there is a need for continuous training and learning. Lessonly can help grow a company’s culture of ongoing learning and training through relevant software. Our mission is to help companies realize the full impact of corporate culture and help employees Do Better Work so they can live better lives. Learn more and get a demo today.