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Impact of Societal Culture on Organizational Culture: Looking at the Findings of a Cross-Societal Study in India from Social Capital Perspective

Abinash Panda1 Rajen K. Gupta2

This study has focussed on exploring the effects of societal culture on prevailing organizational culture in a cross-societal perspective. The two societies identified for this study are Gujarat and Orissa. The study was conducted in a public sector bank. Data were collected from various branches of the said bank from various branches in Gujarat and Orissa. The study adopted mixed method approach. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected through interviews, observation and survey method. It was found that task orientation, control and bureaucratic approach characterize the general prevailing work culture of the branches in Orissa, whereas Relationship orientation, customer orientation and future orientation characterize the general work culture of the branches in Gujarat. The general work culture of branches in Orissa is highly task oriented and bureaucratic, and marked with a high degree of process orientation and hierarchical relational interaction. The prevailing work culture in the branches in Gujarat essentially is highly customer-centric, future oriented and relational. The branch employees view branch as a family with hierarchical familial relationships among themselves. They put high value cooperation, group orientation, and organizational ethics. Further, employees in Gujarat were found to be more committed and satisfied than the employees in Orissa. The findings are analyzed from Social Capital perspective. The authors have consciously chosen this perspective to explore the saliency of extended family network at societal level and its impacts on organizational domain. Extended family network, the authors have argued, is similar to Gunaxi, Kankei and Inmak found in China, Japan and Korea. It was found that, the societal culture influences the general work culture, leadership style and employees attitudes in the organizations located in that society. The Gujarati society gives saliency to family network, unlike the Oriya society. Gujarati society has higher degree of social capital based on the saliency it attaches to extended family, unlike in Oriya society. Differential social capital in both the societies seems to be the contributing factor to distinctly different work culture and employees attitudes. The authors conjecture that organizations located in society marked by higher degree of social capital would possibly have commitment eliciting work culture and organization located in society marked with weak social capital would possibly have control oriented work culture. The finding is conjectural in nature, not conclusive, hence, needs to be further investigated. The authors have suggested some areas of research specific to extended family network based social capital.


Assistant Professor, OB Area, XLRI, Jamshedpur. Professor, Human Behaviour and Organizational Development Area, Management Development Institute, Gurgaon.