Dynamics of organizational culture: Individual beliefs vs. social conformity

The complex nature of organizational culture challenges our ability to infer its underlying dynamics from observational studies. Recent computational studies have adopted a distinctly different view, where plausible mechanisms are proposed to describe a wide range of social phenomena, including the onset and evolution of organizational culture. In this spirit, this work introduces an empirically-grounded, agent-based model which relaxes a set of assumptions that describes past work–(a) omittance of an individual’s strive for achieving cognitive coherence; (b) limited integration of important contextual factors—by utilizing networks of beliefs and incorporating social rank into the dynamics. As a result, we illustrate that: (i) an organization may appear to be increasingly coherent in terms of its organizational culture, yet be composed of individuals with reduced levels of coherence; (ii) the components of social conformity—peer-pressure and social rank—are influential at different aggregation levels.


Ellinas C, Allan N, Johansson A (2017) Dynamics of organizational culture: Individual beliefs vs. social conformity. PLoS ONE 12(6): e0180193. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180193

Source: journals.plos.org