What Are the Different Corporate Culture Models?

Osmand Vitez

Corporate culture models represent the natural environment inside a company. In some cases, the model may not have a formal structure or defined rules. The common types of corporate culture models include clan, adhocracy, hierarchy, and market. The former two culture models are more organic in nature, while the latter two are mechanistic. A company can select whichever method meets the personal goals, beliefs, and values of those who run it and set the organization’s guidelines.

Adhocracy corporate culture models are practiced by those types of companies that strive to be at the very cutting edge of their field.
Adhocracy corporate culture models are practiced by those types of companies that strive to be at the very cutting edge of their field.

Clan corporate culture models often demonstrate characteristics of cohesiveness, participation, teamwork, and sense of family. This creates a strong bond among the workers in a single company. Employees tend to be loyal and crave the traditions that make the company successful. Owners and executives may be more intent on creating high morale and developing the attributes of each individual employee. Smaller organizations may have the ability to perpetrate this model better than large organizations.

It can be helpful to study a culture both as it exists company-wide and in smaller groups.
It can be helpful to study a culture both as it exists company-wide and in smaller groups.

Adhocracy is a more creative, adaptive, and entrepreneurial among the corporate culture models. Organizations that use this model tend to be more flexible in operations as they look to expand business lines. Risk taking is also more inherent; individuals are often more willing to take risks for the potential rewards involved in the business opportunity. Innovation and growth are necessary here as the organization looks to be more aggressive in gaining market share. Though informal in nature, exploration is another essential attribute for adhocracy.

Companies that use hierarchy corporate culture models tend to be in favor of discipline and structure. Order, rules, and uniformity are necessary here to create the organizational structure, which owners and executives believe offers the best opportunity for success. Individuals who work in these organizations often believe in rules and policies. Adherence to these two factors should lead to efficient and effective operations. Owners and executives are usually the individuals who create the rules and policies that grow and foster the hierarchy corporate culture model.

A market corporate culture model is an analytical approach to an organization’s internal workings. The attributes here include competitive and goal achievement, the purpose of which tend to focus on creating a stronger market share. Owners and executives tend to be decisive and set multiple achievements for their employees. These organizations tend to hire individuals who are willing to achieve a competitive advantage and the company’s goal of market superiority. This corporate culture model is typically the most aggressive of all the models.

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Discussion Comments


It takes a certain type of person to fit in well in an adhocracy culture model within a company. I think you would have to have a lot of confidence and be quite creative.

To do well in this atmosphere, you would have to be willing to really put yourself out there and be ready to suggest new ideas, and not feel rejected if your ideas aren't accepted.

To thrive in this kind of organization, a person would need to be sociable, yet competitive in nature.


I liked working for a fairly small company that adopted the clan cultural model. I was comfortable working fairly closely with the other employees. We all had about the same type of duties.

We knew what was expected of us and enjoyed the positive reinforcement we got. We received group rewards, such as special meals, and Christmas gifts. We did most of our work individually and came together often for collaboration.

For me, it was a great cultural model to work under.


@NathanG - I’ve worked in large corporations and small businesses, and I’ve adapted either way.

All the models have their good points and bad points. What I like about the hierarchical corporate model is that it provides a sense of security. I like to know who reports to whom, and who my direct supervisors are. Sometimes I like having a project manager rather than working on my own with little supervision.

When I worked at a small business as a programmer, of course, I pretty much had to work with little supervision. People simply don't have time to take you by the hand and tell you everything that you need to know. You have to figure out a lot of stuff on your own.


@Mammmood - I think what’s important to point out is that some employees will do better in some corporate cultures than in others.

For example, while the clan or adhocracy model is considered to be the best of its kind because it fosters closeness among team members, not every employee is a perfect fit for that arrangement.

Some employees are better suited to dwell in a cubicle, more or less in some degree of isolation, because they tend to be lone wolves. In interviews the prospective employer will usually try to explain the corporate culture of the business and try to feel out the job candidate’s personality, to see if they would be a perfect fit.


I think these different corporate culture models will more or less follow the size of an organization. I see the clan and adhocracy as being used in small to mid-sized companies while hierarchy and market culture would be appropriate for larger companies and corporations.

I believe this is more a practical matter than one of choice. It’s hard to foster the clan model in a corporation with 5,000 people, although I’ve seen some companies try. These businesses do things like team outings and things like that to foster a sense of family among employees.

Still, it’s a tough sell, and when the layoffs roll around, you are reminded that you are a number. The smaller businesses I would say simply default to the clan model because they have little choice. When you’re few in number, you have to get to know people and work together as a family as well as a team.

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