A paper on corporate culture and leadership has to reflect dynamics within an organization. Internal dynamics is often referred to as corporate culture or internal social climate. Internal social climate of the organization hinges on the possible and the impossible. It all depends on the collective human behavior. The human will as well. The human will is a key determinant in designing of the internal social climate of the organization. All these accumulate into the human side of organizations other wise known as corporate culture. This paper thus, strives to bring out clearly, the contours of relationships that provide work of connexion and sometimes even a disconnexion between corporate culture and corporate leadership. Theoretical and empirical approaches are used to explain the conceptualizations that were used in developing the paper. Theoretically, the paper borrowed substantially from the existing theories on culture and leadership as the two agents that make an interplay which later on engineers corporate effectiveness. These theories also provided an Ideal basis on which the paper relied to achieve explanation of empirical experiences of the corporate anthropology in the sense of extant cultures and leaderships as observed among the organizations of import, both within and without Kenya. All these were for the purpose of harnessing available resources to meet the primary goals of this paper. Finally the paper generated conclusions and recommendations to be adopted for the purpose of how best to use corporate culture as an input for effective corporate leadership.
Key concepts; corporate culture, leadership, internal social climate, comparative culture


First, this paper will start with definition of the key concepts and terminologies that are bound to be used on a repetitive scale in the ensuing discussions. The perceived key concepts are; corporate culture, leadership, internal social climate and then last but not least the concept of comparative culture. Corporate culture was defined by Daft (2003) as the conventional way of doing things in any given organization. It is the way things are done in a particular organization. It is called corporate culture among profit oriented organizations otherwise called organization culture if found among the non profit making social systems. Drucker (1998),explained leadership operationally as effortless influence of one person known as a leader on the others known as followers for basic purpose of achieving organizational objectives. Drucker further noted that, whereas management required expertise, leadership required vision laced with some charisma. The same Drucker discussed the concept of internal social climate in his book Frontiers of Management, as more inclusive way of describing organizational culture. The concept of comparative culture was brought to the public by President Tony Blair in his speech entitled Clash about Civilizations, which was later published as an essay in the 2002 edition, Journal of Human Resource Management. In this essay Blair argued that there are two levels of culture at global level; mainstream culture and comparative culture. According to Blair, African, Arabic, Islam and eastern European cultures are comparative but the cultures of the Western powers are mainstream culture. This is why Western Universities use words like comparative literature, comparative management, and comparative politics and so forth when describing studies in non western politics, management or political science respectively.

Types of organizational culture

There is no limit to types of organizational culture. Just as there is no limit to human behavior. Thus, culture can be as strange as human behavior given the leeway of time. This is so on recognizing a fact that it is the collective human behavior in organization that shapes out the culture of that particular organization. However, many researches have tried to be exhaustive about this for the sake of scientific precision. But all in futile. Thus, some of organizational cultures that have been so far established are given by Martyn and Bartolt (1999) as below; Role culture, Task culture, People culture, Team culture, individual culture, clandestine culture, power culture, learning culture, homogeneous culture and total quality culture.
But for the purpose of explaining how organizational culture influences corporate leadership some of the above types of culture don’t play a critical role. Apart from team culture, power culture and people culture. Team culture is team focused social climate within the organization. It was popularized by Jack Welch in his two books; Straight from the Gut and Winning as the optimum culture for organizational success in specifically cost leadership. Power culture was discussed in a derogatory sense by Lee Iacocca, in his book The Chrysler, as one of the factors that made Henry Ford the then chief executive officer of Ford Motors, to flop in global market business. Thus power culture is an enemy of effective corporate leadership. People culture is participatory and it makes the point of discussion in the forthcoming parts of this paper.

Types of Organizational Cultures that Determine Corporate Leadership

Different scholars of management and leadership have given different cultures that specifically touch on the effectiveness of management and leadership. While, in turn each cultural typology has come from theoretical background. Some scholars based their arguments on theories of politics and others from management, but most of them from disciplines that are not contextually managerial. Paulo freire (1959) came up with dialogic culture, Dansreau and Yamarino (2003) suggested inner circle culture which is derived from their theory of vertical dyad linkage leadership model (VDL). Daft (2003) came up with leaderless culture as a way of effective corporate leadership. Jago and Vroom (1989) discussed participatory or democratic culture. Paulo Coehelo talked of learning culture in his narrative book The Witch of Portobello. Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minster of Singapore talked of Ethics or Conscientious Culture in his book From the Third World to the First World. Then Ali Mazrui in 1986 had to write about Change Culture, under the essay cultural engineering for African countries in his book The African Conditions.
Some of the above cultures have to be discussed in some detail. Starting with the first, Dialogic culture of Paulo Freire. Dialogic simply means communication by dialogue. But Dialogic as a culture is the culture of listening to the voice of the followers by the leader. The leaders listen to the followers and include them in the process of knowledge formation as a way of daily to day leadership of the organization. Dialogic culture has benefit of motivating the followers. But it can also waste time for the leader where the followers are not knowledgeable about the matter at hand.

Inner circle culture of Dansreau and Yamarino is the most interesting; it is a culture where the leaders quickly form the inner circle of a few loyalists. And then leave the rest of the organizational members and customers to the outer circle. The leaders favour the inner circle members regardless of their under performance. While at the same time the leader punishes and discredits the outer circle members even if they are productive and technically performing. In the long last there will be strong loyalty to the leader among the inner circle members. Gradually the outer circle members will develop fear, suspicion and later on loss of motivation. And finally there is mass loss of customers. This is due to crude behavior by the inner circle members in form of spying, gossiping, and other vices. Empirically, inner circle culture was observed in Mount Kenya University between November 2012 to November 2014.
Learning culture is good for strategic leadership and total quality leadership. It is based on the primary philosophy that culture is useless if it cannot help the organization to overcome challenges of external environment. This culture supports continuous acquisition of knowledge in preparation of strategic challenges. It is based on the Japanese philosophy of Kempa Kaizen.Paulo Coehelo discussed this type of culture in theatrical style of Robert Shaman’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. The flop side of this culture is not yet established.
Conscientious or ethical culture is praised by different scholars. From Plato to Drucker. It is a Culture of honesty, integrity and morality. It is a primary requirement for any social organization. Empirical record of this culture was exposed by Lee Kwan Yew, in his documentary work on formation of the state of Singapore entitled; From the Third World to the First world. It is an account of how Singapore was formed and then moved from the third world economic status to the first world status.Le Kwan Yew, gives an example where he fired a traffic police officer who did not arrest and prosecute Le Kwan Yew’s daughter for over speeding. After firing the policeman, He also called for re- arrest and trial of the daughter. How many African leaders can try this? Ata Kwa dawa!
Last cultural typology that attracts concern for the sake of achieving effective corporate leadership is leaderless culture as indentified by Daft (2003). In this approach there is high academic and intellectual qualification among the followers. Thus, leader’s presence would only intervene with self motivation of the followers. Thus Lasses faire approach is adopted but with slight consultation with followers. An empirical case for this culture can be borrowed from the leadership experience at Kenyatta University. Where, Professor Mugenda almost lost her turf as a chancellor of Kenyatta University when she often intervened with daily tasks of the academic community at the University. But when she changed the approach to leaderless style she has now recovered the turf.
Sources of organizational culture
Source of organizational culture come from within the organization as well as from other sources that are external to the organization. But both the sources have the final value of inculcating value systems to the organization. Bartolt (1999) identify the following as the sources of organizational culture;
Heroes and founders e.g. Jeans wearing culture at Microsoft Corporation which is a cultural legacy inherited from Bill Gates the founder.
Critical moments in the past or even the momentous times in the past. The culture of persistence and spirited fight at the Chrysler was initially inspired by its hero, who is also once the chief executive officer, Lee Iacocca.
Broad national culture, the societal culture often has an influence on the type of corporate culture. This is due to the fact that the surrounding society obviously supplies dominant customers, suppliers, employees and even fellow corporate citizens or corporate neighbours. This can be empirically observed in the societies within Kenyan public Universities. The societal cultures of the surrounding societies strongly compete with the requisite academic culture of the Universities. This is manifested in cultural symbols and hero worships, like naming used after tribal war or political leaders but not intellectual leaders; Moi university but not Taita Towet University, Kotalel Arap Samoiea university but not Kipkalya kones university, Masinde Muliro University but not Saul Were or Chris Wanjala University, Dedan Kimathi University But not Ngugi wa Thiong’o or Wangare Mathai University, Jomo Kenyatta University but not Ali Mazrui university. All these names represent cultural value systems in these universities as influenced by the dominant societal values and historical self awareness. Corporate leadership in such situations are contingent upon dominant societal culture. Other sources of organizational culture are; benchmarking, the media, globalization effect, Nature of business or products, religion of the members and Government intervention just but to mention a few.

Manifestations of organizational culture

These are the indicators of organizational culture as discussed by Ubwegnbu and Chaparakhuka (2008) in the Journal of social anthropology under their essay, changing faces of corporate anthropology. They identified the following as the key indicators of corporate culture; regular ceremonies, type of hero-worships, corporate colours, regular stories and jokes, parking layout, conventional attires, dialect (patois or gobbledygook) and finally organizational structure. Each of these conditions indicates specifically one or two cultures. Like parking layout can indicate power or people culture depending on the nature of the layout. Like the parking layout at the law courts premises in Kenya is an indicator of power culture.

Corporate culture as a tool of the leader

Organizational Culture is not only a rudimentary subject. It has a lot of pragmatic application for those involved in leadership. Culture is the main strategy which organizations adopt as a way of surviving hostile external environment. Culture is a media of motivations. It is a determinant of change and change management. It is a primary bearing of corporate image. Culture, especially team culture has an effect of indirect learning, hence Excellency in corporate quality. Culture has automatic consequences on recruitment. Thus, organizational culture is an asset like the good will and other intangible assets. Thus for leaders to succeed in any given organization or in any social set up they must start with cultural engineering.


Daft, L. (2003); Leadership Experience, first Edition, Mcgrawhill publishers, New York.
Bartolt, M. and Martyn, K. (1999); Management Principles and Policies, 8th edition, McGraw-Hill publishers, New York.
Drucker, P. F. (1996); Strategic Management, 9th edition Prentice Hall, London
Freire, P. (2003); Pedagogy of the oppressed, (revised) Sao Paulo, Brazil

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.