What Is the Difference between Corporate Culture and Organizational Culture?

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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Corporate culture and organizational culture, in fact, have very little difference, as they are used somewhat interchangeably in describing accepted norms in companies and organizations. Just as different countries value different lifestyles and social behaviors, the acceptable code of conduct may vary greatly depending on the organization. That being said, however, there are still underlying norms that remain consistent throughout both corporate and organizational culture.

There are many factors that may determine the particular culture adopted by a company. Some of these factors include general attitudes, beliefs, and personal characteristics of employees. In addition to this, the actual brand vision that executives wish to convey may significantly contribute to company norms. For example, a company that sells extreme sporting equipment will differ in vision from a company that sells fine silverware.

The company culture at an extreme sporting equipment retailer may be more relaxed, perhaps even striving to recruit employees that convey the adventurous vision. The fine silverware company may want to create an image of excellence and may instill this in employees. A customer in the store selling silverware may be greeted with, "Hello, sir," or "Come again, ma'am," whereas the same customer going to buy climbing gear at the extreme sports store may hear, "What can I help you with, man?"


Both greetings would be within the acceptable realm of corporate culture and organizational culture, but it is a primary example of how different this code of conduct may be from source to source. Hearing "Hey, dude" in the silverware store would likely not please an employee's boss. Conversely, a customer looking at extreme sporting equipment might not know how to respond to, "Sir."

The hierarchy that many companies naturally use is beneficial from an organizational standpoint. There is a career ladder to be climbed, and in order to advance one's career, it is necessary that an employee not only prove competent and worthy but also gain the acceptance of those on higher rungs of the ladder. This is why an understanding of a particular company or organization's culture is necessary for career advancement.

The manner in which an employee greets and communicates with superiors, those at the same level, and subordinates are all important in relation to aspirations for career advancement. An e-mail to a superior that is very informal or demanding may be deemed inappropriate and may hinder that employee's chances of promotion. That same e-mail written in a polite, insightful, and respectful way may yield career opportunities down the road. The most important aspect of corporate culture and organizational culture is to recognize it and act in accordance with the particular norms and behavioral expectations.


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Post 2

What is the difference between corporate culture and real corporate culture?

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What is the difference between organizational DNA and organizational culture?

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