Studying culture in organizations: Not taking for granted the taken-for-granted

Mats Alvesson, Dan Kärreman, S.B. Ybema

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This chapter briefly revisits the earlier literature on organizational culture and culture management. The authors critically assess the current interest in culture’s offsprings in organizational research as well as a foundation for offering an alternative. They claim that the zeal for providing layered interpretation and thick description typical of the original approach deserves to be revitalized in contemporary accounts of, and approaches to, cultural life in organizing. The movement in academic interest in culture and culture management from substance to image, from taken-for-granted beliefs to tools, deserves critical scrutiny. Rather than scratching the surfaces of public culture and actors’ strategies of self-presentation, it is suggested that organizational research needs to focus on critically examining outward appearances, puncturing its myths by demasking its symbolic and staged qualities, and probing into the not-readily observable, the silent and silenced, backstage and off-stage worlds in the organizational dungeons.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Management
EditorsA. Wilkinson, S.J. Armstrong, M. Lounsbury
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherThe Oxford University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780191779565
ISBN (Print)9780198708612
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • culture; organizational culture

VU Research Profile

  • Governance for Society


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