the ceo magazine, culture,
Mostafa Sayyadi, Author, Leading Between the Lines

There are many academic studies that focus on the organizational and managerial factors that drive business startup performance. Organizational culture is one such area that plays a critical role and is a strategic prerequisite for business success in today’s knowledge-based economy. Pettigrew initially introduced the term organizational culture into the business literature. Schein describes organizational culture as a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. Organizational culture is, therefore, reflected in shared assumptions, symbols, beliefs, values and norms that specify how employees understand problems and appropriately react to them. 

Executives as entrepreneurs within companies can play a crucial role in achieving a high level of effectiveness and world class efficiency. The question is: Can executives create an effective startup culture to retain talent? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” A good executive can turn a weak business plan into a success, but a poor leader can ruin even the best plan. To analyze the relationship between corporate culture and business startup performance, it is quite understandable that executives can in fact facilitate collaboration by developing relationships among startup team members. An executive can also consider both startup team members individual interests and teams’ essential needs. Also, they can identify individual needs of their startup team members and develop a learning culture to generate new knowledge and share it with others. They can in fact highly manipulate culture to conform to the needs and expectations of strategic goals and objectives.

In addition, a collaborative culture provides a shared understanding about the current issues and problems among startup team members, which helps to generate new ideas within their teams. Trust towards their teams’ goals is also a necessary precursor to create new knowledge. Moreover, the amount of time spent learning is positively related with the amount of knowledge gained, shared, and implemented. Therefore, executives can effectively reshape, and in some cases, manipulate culture to create a more effective environment to satisfy and retain talent within startup teams. 

An effective culture can also positively contribute to startup teams to effectively and actively respond to environmental changes and customer needs and members’ growth needs through developing an effective learning workplace. Learning culture as another cultural aspect sheds light on startup teams’ capabilities to develop learning. A learning cultural aspect can particularly facilitate business startup performance, by developing suitable workplaces for experts and knowledge workers to effectively share their knowledge with others. People in fact recognize how old resources can address new and problematic situations by sharing their knowledge within a startup team, and this can help to create more innovative ideas for organizational problems. Maister in his book, Managing the Professional Service Firm, says that an innovative culture can improve for business startup performance. Thus, I suggest that business consultants in various industries should consider organizational culture as an important enabler to improve business startup performance in order to attract and retain talent.


Pettigrew, AM 1979 'On studying organizational cultures', Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 570-581.

Schein, E 1984 'Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture', Sloan Management Review, vol. 25, no. 2. pp. 37-50.

Maister, DH 1993, Managing the professional service firm, Free Press ; Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; Maxwell Macmillan International, New York : Toronto : New York.


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