Trade-Offs in Firm Culture? Nope, You Can Have it All

46 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2018

See all articles by Donald N. Sull

Donald N. Sull

MIT Sloan School of Management

Hyo Kang

UC Berkeley Haas School of Business

Neil Thompson

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL); Lab for Innovation Science at Harvard

Lucy Hu

Amazon.com

Date Written: August 7, 2018

Abstract

A firm can exhibit many “good” cultural values, for example collaboration, integrity, or ambition. Influential theories of corporate culture claim that firms must choose which cultural values to foster because of inherent trade-offs between them. This paper tests this proposition using a new survey of managers (370 firms, averaging 27 respondents each). We find no evidence of trade-offs. To the contrary, we find that firms that score higher on one cultural value also tend to score higher on others. Our findings suggest that any inherent trade-offs are outweighed by the ability of good management practices to help a firm excel across many cultural values.

Keywords: Corporate Culture; Organizational Culture; Strategy Implementation; Management Practices; Survey Design

Suggested Citation

Sull, Donald N. and Kang, Hyo and Thompson, Neil and Hu, Lucy, Trade-Offs in Firm Culture? Nope, You Can Have it All (August 7, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3228167 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3228167

Donald N. Sull (Contact Author)

MIT Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/faculty-and-research/faculty-directory/detail/?id=58805

Hyo Kang

UC Berkeley Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

HOME PAGE: http://hyokang.com

Neil Thompson

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) ( email )

32 Vassar Street
G766
Cambridge, MA MA 02142
United States
617-324-6029 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.neil-t.com

Lab for Innovation Science at Harvard ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Lucy Hu

Amazon.com ( email )

Seattle, WA 98144
United States

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