PB457E      Half Unit
Organisational Culture

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mark Noort


This course is available on the Executive MSc in Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option.


No prerequisites.

Course content

This course introduces to students to the concept of organisational culture, its relationship with success and failure in institutional settings, the factors that shape it, and methodologies for studying and changing culture. The course will draw on a mixture of seminal research, state-of-the-art literature, and work being conducted at the LSE. The course consists of three parts.

Part 1: Organisational culture: what is it, and why does it matter?

In this first phase of the course, the concept of organisational culture will be introduced as an essential concept for improving behavioural interventions, and we explore its association with organisational performance. Students will be made familiar with key models on organisational culture, the dynamic nature of organisational culture as a learning process for which behaviours 'work', and academic literature investigating the cultural properties of organisations that lead them to be more competitive, safer, and nicer places to work. Students will be asked to reflect on the culture of their own organisation (or another that is relevant to them), and to consider where it ‘fits’ within the academic models being presented.

Part 2: Measuring organisational culture.

Here we will also focus on assessing organisational culture. Specifically, we will examine traditional methodologies of culture measurement: including interviews, observations, and surveys. We will explore what makes a ‘good measure’, how you interpret culture data, and the limitations of using observations from ‘within’ an organisation to measure culture. We also explore how quasi-experimental methods may be designed to investiagate orgaisational culture. 

Part 3: Understanding and changing organisational culture.

In the final part of the course, we focus on different aspects of organisational culture (collaboration in teams, organisational decline and failures), and examine how these shape people's understanding of what is 'normal', whether they can challenge institutional practices, and their links with organisational outcomes. We also consider how factors such as national culture and HRM shape organisational culture, and examine how, through constructs such as leadership, organisational culture can be changed.


10 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshops in the ST.

Formative coursework

Formative assessment 1.

Format: In class-presentation (10 mins), delivered on the last day of the course.

Description: Students will present, in groups, a proposed programme for assessing and changing organizational culture in a company of their choice. Feedback will be provided on the ideas presented.

Formative assessment 2.

Format: One brief essay.

Word count: 1 x 500 words max (excluding bibliography)

Description: Students will outline a measurement suite for assessing organizational culture in an organisation of their choice (500 words).

Indicative reading

Ashkanasy, N. M., Wilderom, C. P., & Peterson, M. F. (2000). Handbook of organizational culture and climate. Sage.

Barney, J. B. (1986). Organizational culture: can it be a source of sustained competitive advantage? Academy of Management Review, 11(3), 656-665.

Jacobs, R., Mannion, R., Davies, H. T., Harrison, S., Konteh, F., & Walshe, K. (2013). The relationship between organizational culture and performance in acute hospitals. Social Science & Medicine, 76, 115-125.

Hartnell, C. A., Ou, A. Y., & Kinicki, A. (2011). Organizational culture and organizational effectiveness: a meta-analytic investigation of the competing values framework's theoretical suppositions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(4), 677.

Hofstede, G. (1983). The cultural relativity of organizational practices and theories. Journal of international business studies, 14(2), 75-89.

Hofstede, G., Neuijen, B., Ohayv, D. D., & Sanders, G. (1990). Measuring organizational cultures: A qualitative and quantitative study across twenty cases. Administrative Science Quarterly, 286-316.

Leaver, M. P., & Reader, T. W. (2019). Safety culture in financial trading: An analysis of trading misconduct investigations. Journal of Business Ethics, 154(2), 461-481.

Martin, J. (1992). Cultures in organizations: Three perspectives. Oxford University Press. 

O'Reilly, C. A., Chatman, J., & Caldwell, D. F. (1991). People and organizational culture: A profile comparison approach to assessing person-organization fit. Academy of management journal, 34, 487-516.

Schein, E. H. (1984). Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture. Sloan Management Review, 25(2), 3-16. 

Reader, T., Reddy, G., & Brett, S. (2017). Impossible Decision? An investigation of risk trade-offs in the intensive care unit. Ergonomics

Reader, T., Noort, M. C., Shorrock, S., & Kirwan, B. (2015). Safety san frontières: an international safety culture model. Risk Analysis, 35, 770-789.

Reader, T., Mearns, K., Lopes, C. & Kuha, J (2017). Organisational support for workforce health and employee safety citizenship behaviours: a reciprocal relationship. Human Relations

Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership (Vol. 2). John Wiley & Sons.

Schneider, B., Ehrhart, M. G., & Macey, W. H. (2013). Organizational climate and culture. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 361-388.

Scott, T., Mannion, R., Davies, H., & Marshall, M. (2003). The quantitative measurement of organizational culture in health care: a review of the available instruments. Health services research, 38(3), 923-945.

Webb, E., & Weick, K. E. (1979). Unobtrusive measures in organizational theory: A reminder. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24(4), 650-659.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Word count: 3,000 max (excluding bibliography)

Description: Students will describe, and justify, a programme for assessing and changing the organizational culture in an organisation of their choice.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2020/21: 1

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills