Four Characteristics of an Organization

Organizational Behavior Terminology and Concepts

Organizational culture, Organizational behavior, Diversity, & Communication

Four characteristics of an organization having gained a great deal of attention in recent years include Organizational culture, Organizational behavior, Diversity, and Communication. These characteristics are important points of study in light of the collapse of the banking and mortgage industry. Many experts point to these factors as key indicators of an organization’s financial and ethical health. The defining and study of these concepts becomes paramount to building a profitable and sustainable organization.

The beliefs, rules of behavior, customs, language, religion, ethnicity, and political and economic systems all mesh together to create organizational culture in a business place. In essence organizational culture is the manifestation of a company’s values as created through the collective of individual members and the organizations rules. An organization embeds its values into the organizational culture in a variety of ways. Two of the ways that this is accomplished is through administrative policies and explicit rules. These written rules express the norms and mores of the organization and set the ethical climate of the organization. The second manner in which an organization embeds its values into the organization’s culture is through implicit messages and policies. These implicit messages and policies are conveyed through the leadership in unwritten and unspoken manners. Implicit messages are guiding mechanisms that communicate what is valued and how leaders and constituents are to behave and act, within and for the organization. Implicit policies were described as frequently incongruent with the explicit policies and the mission of an organization. Organizational culture is important to a company’s success because the culture reflects the values espoused by the organization.

As one realizes the importance of organizational culture he or she can begin to see the importance and affect culture exerts on organizational behavior. Organizational behavior, as a study is the multi disciplined approach to understanding behavior within the workplace. This field includes input from sociology, psychology, management, and communications study.

When one speaks of organizational behavior it is almost impossible to not speak of organizational culture. The two concepts are mutually inclusive since one cannot occur without the other. For instance, organizations undergo changes all of the time which is an aspect of organizational behavior. This change is directly affected by organizational culture. If the culture of the organization is negative it can create barriers to impending change and cause employees to be resistant (Trice and Beyer, 1993).

One of the most important aspects of organizational behavior and culture is diversity. In the way that culture can affect behavior diversity can be thought of the mosaic of people who fit together to add to the culture of the organization. Currently diversity has become a buzzword as globalization continues at rapid rates in many organizations. Within the context of organizational behavior and culture diversity seems to play an ever increasing role in the effectiveness of the organization.

When different ethnic, nationalities, and heritages come together within organizations there becomes differences which cannot be ignored and when they are; this often leads to problems. The concept of diversity involves different groups forming an organizational culture with this affecting behavior. Thus managing these differences becomes vital to the workplace effectiveness (Chatman & Spataro, 2005).

The concept of diversity is however muddled. The idea that diversity of background and experience is a positive influence on the organization is not a fully proven concept. The term diversity depending upon how it is used always seems to have contradictory meanings. The term also seems to be so broad in definition that it almost becomes meaningless. In this instance when we are discussing the workplace, the influx of diverse backgrounds and experiences tends to confuse understanding more so than clarify it. This is because the concept of diversity today is defined as the gathering of different cultures and people and the blending and inclusion of these different ideals. Somehow this diversity improves the organization and in this case helps to evolve individual understanding. However, two opposing cultures or value systems often forces an organization’s members to compromise their belief structure. In an exaggerated example, if a person is a Ku Klux Klan member and they go to work for the same organization that a member of the Pacifist Socialist Party works for, diversity seems to fall on its face. How does having two diametrically opposed cultures or value systems help to evolve individual understanding? It does not.

Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam performed a study involving 30,000 people and found that multiculturalism and diversity did not strengthen groups but instead eroded trust and social interaction. In this study, Dr. Putnam found that diversity often created more distrust and less cohesiveness in communities, reducing civic health (Jonas, 2007). From this study, one must question the concept of diversity and its ramifications on the workplace. In specific, organizations and their cultures can be thought of as small communities. This makes them equally vulnerable to the effects of diversity.

Communication is perhaps the most important factor affecting organizations. Acting as glue for all other facets of the workplace, communication controls how the company’s culture and behavior are defined. Organizations with poor communication can create resistance and frustration in the employees. These factors lead to negative impacts on culture and behavior. Thus communication becomes a study of the different channels of communication between organizations members and leadership. This component can ensure that the other factors of the organization work productively and efficiently.

The four characteristics; Organizational culture, Organizational behavior, Diversity, and Communication; affect organizations on all levels and in vital ways. Without an understanding of these characteristics managers and researchers are apt to make decisions that are flawed or built upon assumptions. For these reasons the defining of these characteristics is key to building a successful organization.


Chatman, J. A. & Spataro, S. E. (2005). Using self-categorization theory to understand relational demography-based variations in people’s responsiveness to organizational culture. Academy of Management Journal, 48, 321–331.

Michael Jonas The Downside of Diversity Retrieved from

Pachuta, J. (2002). Creating a vibrant culture. Retrieved March 28, 2011 from

Trice H.M. and Beyer J.M., (1993) The Culture of Work Organizations Retrieved from

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Article Updated: 9/22/21


Triola Vincent. Tue, Jan 12, 2021. Four Characteristics of an Organization Retrieved from

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