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Edgar Schein’s 3 Levels of Organizational Culture

Edgar Schein, of the Sloan School of Management, was interested in understanding organizational culture. He analyzed organizations into three distinct levels of organizational culture: artifacts (the surface manifestations of culture), values, and assumptions.

Watching this video is worth 2 Management Courses CPD Points*.
(See below for more details)

The Nature of Organizations
This video is part of course module number 6.1.4
Program 6: Managing within Organizations
Course 1: The Nature of Organizations
Section 4: Organizational Culture

Other videos in this section include:
🎬 Introduction to Organizational Culture https://youtu.be/F_jEJBjE_J4
🎬 Cultural Web: Johnson & Scholes on Where Culture Originates https://youtu.be/i9hVuurBvh4
🎬 Quinn and Cameron: Competing Values Model of Organizational Culture https://youtu.be/eOnCetNa7Zc
🎬 National Culture within an Organization: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimensions https://youtu.be/eygJtngcqMs
🎬 How we Work: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cross-Organization Cultural Dimensions https://youtu.be/U8CZE1LXpv4

Edgar Schein analyzed organizational culture into three distinct levels: artifacts (the surface manifestations of culture), values, and assumptions.

They are kind of like an iceberg, with the most important elements most hidden from view


Visible, surface elements of an organization’s culture, that an outsider would notice. They’re typically the things even an outsider can see, such as furniture, decoration, dress codes, rituals, stories.

They can be easy to observe but sometimes difficult to understand, especially if your analysis of a culture never goes any deeper. Often they can have a deep and meaningful history.

Espoused values

The company’s declared set of values and norms. They set out ‘how things should be done’ and what choices we should make.

Values affect how members interact, behave, and represent the organization and are often reinforced by public values statements, such as branding straplines, or lists of core values.

Shared basic assumptions

These are the bedrock of organizational culture. They are beliefs that people take for granted, rarely question, and therefore tend to go unnoticed.

Understanding these shared assumptions will help explain seemingly confusing artifacts and values.

Schein (1985) described six types of assumptions that form what Johnson and Scholes would describe as the paradigm for an organization. These are assumptions about:
1. the ‘truth’ and how it is determined
2. the importance of time
3. how space is owned and allocated, and what it means to people.
4. human nature, whether it is fundamentally good or bad, and whether it can be perfected.
5. the organization’s relationship with its environment, and how the organization’s staff should relate to it.
6. Social power and how people should relate to one another. This dictates a lot of organizational behavior, like:
a. how power and responsibilities are allocated
b. the balance of cooperation vs. competition,
c. individualism or group collaboration
d. the styles of leadership
e. ways of resolving conflicts
f. approaches to decision-making

For your current organization – or one you know very well – write a short description of each of its:
1. Artifacts (2 MC CPD Points)
2. Values (2 MC CPD Points)
3. Assumptions (2 MC CPD Points)

Free Resources
– CPD Tools – https://gum.co/MC-CPD

Paid resources
– Management Courses Onboarding Kit – https://gum.co/MC-ObK ($3)

– Understanding Organizations https://geni.us/oB774Do
– Images of Organization https://geni.us/hrOemEs
– Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers https://geni.us/YwwL
– Gods of Management: The Four Cultures of Leadership https://geni.us/bpPeC5

Managers Need a Basic set of kit to do your job well. Here are my top recommendations: https://kit.co/MikeClayton/manager-s-work-kit (the links are affiliated)

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Each video has two levels of MC CPD points. For this video:
– If you simply watched the video, record 2 MC CPD points
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#OrganizationalCulture #ManagementCourses #EdgarSchein3Levels


Introduction to Organizations: A Compilation of our Introductory Videos
What is Mentoring? Why get a Mentor and Why be a Mentor? + Top Tips
What is PESTLE Analysis?
The Miller Heiman Strategic Selling Methodology
What is Globalization?
What is NLP Modelling? And How do we to Do it?
NLP & Hypnosis: What is the Milton Model?
NLP Meta Model: Precision Questioning and Listening
What is NLP? Neuro Linguistic Programming
Howard Gardner: Emotional Intelligence in the Multiple Intelligences Model
What is Remarketing? (or Retargeting)
What is Marketing Automation? And How to set it up.
What is Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing? And How to Build Your Campaign
What is Public Relations (PR)?
Marketing Mix: Product – What is the Product Marketing?
What is the Marketing Mix – The 4Ps: Product, Price, Place, Promotion?
What is Market Segmentation?
What is a Marketing Strategy?
What is Market Research?
Kim Cameron: Positive Organizational Scholarship
Charles Handy: Philosopher of Organizations
Edgar Schein: The Master of Organizational Culture
Harold Geneen: Data-driven Charismatic Organization
Chester Barnard: Organizations as Networks of People
Max Weber: The Father of Organizational Theory
How we Work: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cross-Organization Cultural Dimensions
National Culture within an Organization: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimensions
Quinn and Cameron: Competing Values Model of Organizational Culture
Cultural Web: Johnson & Scholes on Where Culture Originates
Introduction to Organizational Culture
Empowerment: The Organization Giving up its Power
French and Raven: Social Power Bases in Organizations
Power in Organizations: The Power of Governance
Robin Fincham: Three Levels of Organizational Power
Amitai Etzioni: How Organizations Secure Compliance
Organizational Power: What is Power?
Virtual Organizations
Brian Robertson’s Holacracy Organizational Model
The Agile Organization
Adhocracy Organizational Model
Peter Senge’s Learning Organization
The Matrix Organization Model
Charles Handy’s Triple-I Company
Charles Handy’s Federal Organization Model
Charles Handy’s Shamrock Organization

Mike Clayton

About Mike Clayton 

Dr Mike Clayton is a (former) Project Manager and now a management educator. Having trained thousands of people at live workshops, seminars, and conferences, he now delivers training mainly via video. He has 14 books with international publishers and runs two successful YouTube channels. He is also the founder of OnlinePMCourses.com

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