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Functional model for organisational and safety culture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChemical Engineering Transactions
PublisherItalian Association of Chemical Engineering AIDIC
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9788895608396
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameChemical Engineering Transactions
ISSN (Electronic)2283-9216


Cultures are usually defined as shared values, attitudes and behaviour of certain group. The core of culture is inside person's mind. Only through behaviour or other actions of persons the culture becomes visible and shareable. Cultural artefacts and all other perceptible signs of culture are formed through action. From this perspective culture requires functionality. It does not exist nor spread without activity of individuals. In systems theory there is a methodological distinction between theoretical system and empirical system. Theoretical system "is a complex of concepts, suppositions, and propositions having both logical integration and empirical reference". Empirical system is "a set of phenomena in the observable world that is amenable to description and analysis by means of a theoretical system". However, in cultural context, theoretical models usually describe only properties of the empirical system. Usually the functionality of the culture is left undefined. Therefore theoretical models may have flaws in their ability to describe the functionality of the culture, which is essential part of the culture. In this paper we use a novel functional model to explore the functionality of the most commonly used culture models. We inspect Schein's organizational culture model, Cooper's reciprocal safety culture model and Johnson's cultural web. We study them and their functionality with our own functional model, which integrates person to sociotechnical system and shows person-sociotechnical system interaction. This study clearly shows that if culture's basis is in shared mental models, then the question whether organization is or has culture is absurd. As Antonsen has pointed out certain mandatory organizational features are clearly structural and not cultural. We also emphasize the behavioural aspect when defining cultural issues. The shared mental model alone is not sufficient requirement to define a feature as a cultural artefact, nor is the behaviour all employees share. Behaviour or action is cultural artefact only when the members of the culture have truly free will to choose their behaviour.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland