No. 8




Organizational Culture and Leadership Style

18 December 2003


RiTo No. 8, 2003

  • Harry Roots

    Tallinn Pedagogical University, organization and management theory chair professor

Roger Harrison and his leading proponent Charles Handy became well-known in the 1970s for applying “ideal type” methods in studying organizational culture. There are four basic types of organizational culture in Harrison’s construct: power-centered, role-centered, achievement-minded, person-centered. No working organization is ever 100% pure, but according to Harrison, one of the four always dominates.

In studying Estonian organizations, Harrison’s methods have been used since 2002. The article talks about the findings. It turns out that power-centered or role-centered culture is dominant in the private as well as public sectors, the latter often with a strong achievement-centered element. There has been an incremental shift from a culture focused on the leader to a rule-based, role-centered culture limited by procedures and instructions. If one were to choose, then employees would prefer a cultural type oriented to performance and achievements. In all likelihood this will be the next phase in the shifting organizational culture.

In addition, studies have turned up a fairly significant variation in the values and attitudes of managers and underlings. This is seen both in the private and public sectors. Managers see themselves as democrats who support!the initiatives of their underlings while the subordinates see them for the most part as heavy-handed autocrats. The words and deeds of managers send mixed messages regarding expectations. Leadership culture and style in Estonian companies and organizations is continually lagging behind the general development of organizational culture, accounting for its most conservative part. This could be a hindrance to Estonia’s future development.

Full article in Estonian