ask an orgtheorist: organizational culture and family policies

From our homegirl over at the Law and Letters blog, Belle Lettre asks:

I was wondering if you could give me any tips for works that I just can’t ignore when trying to assess organizational culture. I would ask a scatterbrain, but OrgTheory seems more appropriate.

Specifically, I want to evaluate whether an organization is “family friendly”–is this a macro question or a micro question? Well, both I suspect. Any direction would be appreciated.

I got Gideon Kunda’s “Engineering Culture,” but I am sure that there are foundational texts/articles that I am missing out on.

You’ve come to the right blog, Belle. Based on your post over at L&L, you’ve started down the right track with Hochschild. On the general topic of organizational culture, the person you’d check out is William Ouchi’s 1985 Annual Review of Sociology article. At this blog, we also like Scott’s “Seeing Like A State,” which is very org culture, but from a critical poli sci perspective. Martin Parker’s 2000 book (Organizational Culture and Identity) is a more up to date review of organizational culture literature.

A quick spin through the lit reveals a few more that focus on family policies in firms: Lewis 1997 article in Gender, Work and Organization; a 2001 article in Public Administration on worker satisfaction by Saltzstein, Ting and Saltzstein. There are also some books that look at political regimes and family policy, such as Dex & Smith’s 2001 book. Also check out Mary Blair-Loy’s work on women executives and family, which should review the latest stuff. Maureen Scully’s a good one to checkout on the politics of family and gender in the workplace. Orgheads, what else is in this literature?

Written by fabiorojas

April 23, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Posted in uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Any work by Ed Schein or Joanne Martin will give you the basic foundations of org culture (a wealth of work from the 70s through the 90s). This book “maps the culture terrain” (including some references to family issues, though largely related to how org culture often is couched in familial terms.) Also, I noted that there is a journal, Family Business Review, with lots of articles (by folks like Schein, Dyer etc) that also wrestle with matters of culture in this setting.



    April 23, 2008 at 7:44 pm

  2. Wow, thanks guys! I checked out most of the books you suggested, and I couldn’t have done it without you.


    Belle Lettre

    April 24, 2008 at 4:04 am

  3. From a sociology of culture perspective addition to Kunda’s work on Engineering, Gary Fine’s (1996) book on Kitchens is particularly good on the organizational culture front (as well as his earlier [1984] annual review piece on negotiated orders and organizational culture). Also for an elaboration on this perspective that stresses the use of culture to generate power you might want to check out Tim Hallett’s (2003) recent Soc Theory piece on Symbolic Power and Organizational Culture.



    April 24, 2008 at 11:18 am

  4. frank dobbin and his co-authors (eg erin kelly and sandra kalev) have done some work on family friendly policies as part of frank’s broader research agenda to look at programs designed to foster demographic inclusiveness (or at least the appearance of inclusiveness).



    April 28, 2008 at 3:55 pm

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