The Common Ground of Qualitative and Quantitative Culture Development Approaches (Part Two)

Robert Cooke & Edgar Schein Discussion

handshake over world map, business or politic concept indicating globalization

This is the second post from a discussion between Professor Edgar Schein, arguably the #1 workplace culture expert in the world and a strong critic of culture surveys, and Dr. Robert A. Cooke, creator of the most widely used organizational culture assessment in the world.  The discussion resulted in 12 key areas of common ground across qualitative and quantitative culture assessment and development approaches.  See the first post for specific comments regarding insights #1-6:

  1. Leaders must start by being clear about the business problem or purpose of their change effort.
  2. A culture survey may be useful under the right circumstances and will only measure some aspects of the culture.
  3. The client should make the decision on whether to use a survey or not.
  4. Leaders should give assurance the feedback will be shared and acted upon.
  5. A team should be engaged to help identify how the survey will be set-up and used.
  6. Only survey as part of a broader change effort which also includes qualitative approaches.

This post covers insights #7 – 12, including Ed and Rob’s overall reaction to the substantial common ground that exists.  These insights should help leaders, consultants, and others to more effectively manage change efforts.

Create Constructive Cultures and Impact the World


Over 30 years of research across thousands of organizations using the Organizational Culture Inventory® has shown positive relationships between Constructive cultural norms (that is, expectations for members to behave constructively in order to “fit in”) and motivation, engagement, teamwork, quality, external adaptability and, ultimately, profitability.

Constructive cultures are those in which members are encouraged to interact with people and approach tasks in ways that will help them meet their higher order satisfaction needs.  Constructive “norms” measured by the culture survey include:

  • Achievement—Members are expected to set challenging goals, establish plans to reach those goals, and pursue them with enthusiasm.
  • Self-Actualizing—Members are expected to enjoy their work, develop themselves, and take on new and interesting activities.
  • Humanistic-Encouraging—Members are expected to be supportive, helpful, and open to influence in their dealings with one another.
  • Affiliative—Members are expected to be friendly, cooperative, and sensitive to the satisfaction of their work group.