Organizational Culture of In-Group and Out-Groups Working in Hospitality Industry Organizations

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The term organization has always been tied-up with three analogies that are anthropomorphic, biomorphic and sociomorphic. Out of the three explicit analogies, the term sociomorphic has been consistently used to describe organization. Where organizations have been termed as smaller societies with their own distinctive structure, norms and ideologies. According to (Allaire and Firsirotu, 1984, pp.194), if organizations are small societies, it is evident that they will reflect the concept of culture. Which leads us to elaborate the concept of culture in an organization.

A social phenomenon of in-groups (hotels) and out-group’s (representation of various occupational culture chefs, waiters) behavior towards certain norms, shared values and believes which are passed down by the organizations and various occupational groups which become an indubitable way of behaving forms a culture. “A culture is a collective programming and mind-set of a community which comes by sharing common values, past experiences and beliefs” (Ogbonna, 1996, pp.113). To simplify the diverse nature of culture Allaire and Firsirotu framework in 1984 described culture as a member of two systems: ideation system and socio-cultural system (Cameron 2009, p.1). Culture as a socio-cultural system of the functionalist view “culture as societies” and “societies as culture” (Cameron, 2001, pp.108), described culture as societies and stated above that culture resides in organization. Thus, it becomes very important for the organization to adapt and synchronize themselves to the society’s needs and seek out cost benefit in terms of cost and labor employed. As historical domain of socio-cultural system functionalist needs to identify what is past and part of history. The importance in this domain is the word “cultural development” from “diachronic (past) to synchronic (here and now)”, considering the example of savoy hotel which uses the statement “Leading the past” and “Savoy is always up to date” uses its historical domains in the present to share its values and common believes with the society as a marketing tool to prompts its historical domain by showcasing its transformation from diachronic to synchronic systems (Savoy, 2009 p.1; Cameron, 2009, p.3). Culture as ideation system “in the minds of the cultural bearers” (Cameron, 2009, p.1). Related to this system of study hotels are organizations which consists of various out-groups and occupational groups which tend to reflect multiple cultures and thus it becomes very important for the in-groups to align the multiple cultures towards a common goal influenced by corporate mission and vision (corporate identity). In the process of the sharing corporate values and norms the management occupational groups tend to map out cognitive thinking by observing, familiarizing and learning. These values and norms are shared between the out groups, but not necessarily every out-group will reciprocate to the corporate values. Taking the example from the hospitality industry the chefs who consider themselves as ‘quasi professionals’ in the occupational culture, might have degree dissonance to corporate values and norms. When culture is viewed by the managers beyond a unitary concept the sub-groups in the organization may reflect a degree of dissonance as the perceptual values and norms might differ from the in-group processes. From the managerial perspective it is very essential to align the in-group and out-group processes with organizational culture to create a reciprocal relationship between cultures (Cameron, 2009, p.9).

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Literature Review

In relevance there is a need for a reciprocal relationship in the organization. It is very essential to understand the adversarial and reciprocal relational between occupational culture and organizational culture. The nature of the occupational culture being adaptive or either fixed in nature, depends upon the characteristic of the occupation. Taking the example from the hospitality industry, where occupational characteristic of chefs is craft based and inspired by past (historical-diffusion), it is more likely to be rigid in nature (Cameron, 1999, p.226). Rigidity of the nature elaborates the need for the organization to be discontinuous and flexible in design to increase the convergence between the two concepts (occupational culture and organizational culture). The analysis of the (Cameron, 1999, pp.227) paper shows identity as one of the influential and dominant factors between two concepts. Identity refers to the self-categorization of an out-group or an individual working in an organization and how they perceive themselves or their occupational culture in terms of character, self-concept and personality (Brewer, 1993, pp.151). Self-categorization of a group refers to the concept of self where an out-group such as chefs plays dominant role in the organization due to high affinity towards their own group (group concept) (Cameron, 1999, pp.227). This affinity towards the own group favoritism describes the concept of out-group homogeneity. The out-group homogeneity is more homogeneous in nature when groups are compared at intra-group level. For example, in the case of chefs, similar uniform or ethnic origin belonging leads to strong out-group’s homogenous nature between the individuals of the out-groups. But a heterogeneous aspect will come in to play with the other out-groups. In Cameron (1999) paper, he agrees with Smircich (1983), who states that (p.230) “Culture is something an organization is” and individuals have to work within the organization, thus it is necessary for them to come in terms with the corporate shared values and vision. This can lead to a reciprocal relationship between the out-group and a sense of assimilation of self within an inter-group which will result in perceived in-group homogeneity (Brewer, 1993, p.151). The positive impact of in-group homogeneity in a hotel organization can be viewed from the example of Ritz Carlton, where the organization made a huge profit from the years 1891 to 1896 with chefs and managers working harmoniously as a team (out-group homogeneity, collective programming). However, some uncertain events in later stages of the decade led to decline in the hotel’s growth pace (Taylor, 1996, p.31). This explains the importance of in-group homogeneity and the mutuality between out-groups in order to move towards a shared vision and common goal of the organization.

Describing the nature of hospitality industry and the changing market dynamics, there is a constant need in the formulation of new strategies in the organization. A coherence culture can lead to successful implementation of strategies by sharing common goals within the out-groups (Kemp & Dwyer, 2001, pp.78). Corporate culture and collective programming of the sub-cultures create a long-term growth path for an organization (Roper & Brookes, 1997, pp.148). Thus, it becomes necessary to share the values and vision of the culture within the occupational groups. According to Derek Cameron (2001), “cultural identity practically does not belong to an organization but instead it belongs to the occupational cultures” (p.104). Taking the example of Forte hotel, it has been illustrated that chefs have a high self-perception towards their own profession. The essence of this sort of cosmopolitan nature in the occupation makes it difficult for the managers to influence corporate strategies, policies and norms (Cameron, 2001, p.105). Change in strategies and moving to cotemporary practices and norms from traditional practices without considering the occupational culture can lead to discourse between management and out-groups.

The case of Forte hotel can also be a practical example of discourse behavior and its negative impact on the corporate shared values, where the hotel opted various methods of cost reduction during the time of economic slowdown which led to a clash between chefs and the management. They felt their self-perception, degree of autonomy and professionalism was threatened by opting contemporary methods in the changing economic environment (Cameron, 2001, p.105). In order to share they must have a coherence culture within an organization management which can reflect their identity on basis of symbols, heroes, rituals and values. These four manifestations can be put together in the form of an onion ring where it reflects the manifestations of culture at different levels keeping values at the core, then rituals, followed by cultural heroes, leaving symbols at the outer ring (Hofstede, 1991, p.9). Thus, from the managerial perspective it is necessary for managers to understand organizational culture and symbolism to be able to better guide the organizational cultural change.

As individuals within an out-group look for personal development and opportunity, economic reforms and policies are not the only aspects of culture. The process of ideation, symbols, synchronic and diachronic systems and mutual-equivalence are also aspects of determining the culture (Smircich, 1983, pp.347). An argument arises were organizations continuously need to adopt new methods and polices according to the external environment change. Culture plays a coherent role in effective functioning of an organization and can be used as a powerful tool to implement strategies without having an adversarial effect on sub-cultures (Cameron, 1999, p.2). The argument is whether “culture can be managed or changed in an organization”.

Simirich (1983, pp. 348) defines the relevance of culture in an organization by stating “Culture is something which an organization is and culture is something an organization has”. Describing culture in context of something an “organization has” becomes a pathway for the sub-cultures to have sense of identity and a power of decision making. In the context of whether culture is something an “organization is”, it becomes an inseparable phenomenon as organizations don’t have culture, they are the mere social societies and they are culture (Ogbonna, 1996, p.114). In an interview with Heinrich von Pierer, who is the CEO of Siemens, he explains that a change in culture in an organization takes at least 10 years of continuous effort (Harvard Business review, 2005 p.122). Managing corporate culture becomes an essential task and it is very crucial to have managers who are culturally sensitive (multi culture). Emmanuel Ogbonna and LIoyd C. Harris (2002) introduced a typology on management of culture classified into Optimists, Pessimists and Realists (p.38). Optimists are believed to be positive and persuasive towards managing culture in an organization. The assumption from the optimist point of view is that culture should be viewed beyond a unitary concept and should consider sub-cultures. While they also believe if top –management culture is considered as a sub-culture unit it can either be imposed or should be accepted by the other sub-cultures or out-groups (pp.35). Pessimists are also referred to as culture purists who view managing the organizational culture from a theoretical perspective. Pessimists strongly follow the notion of organization culture theory, where culture is embedded in the deepest value of human consciousness and considers the conflicts and contractions which comes with the process of managing the culture (pp.36). The third typology for the management of culture are the realists. They tend to take the neutral route in the form of both supporting and being against the concept of managing organizational culture (Ogbonna & Harris, 2002, pp.48). The study of managing culture in an organization provides essential overview of culture management from the perspective of optimists, pessimists and realists. However, this doesn’t provide an insight of managing cultural change from the strategic or structural change point of view (Ogbonna & Harris, 2002, pp.48).


Hospitality organizations need to change strategies and policies continuously to gain competitive advantage. A significant corporate culture has a deep impact on the behavior of the out-groups. Since management are the building blocks for the hospitality organization, it is necessary for them to view the culture change as a continuum concept rather than a dichotomous event (Ogabonna & Harris, 2002, p.36). The out-groups and the individuals working within the in-group look for personal development and self-identity. Hospitality organizations can act as a pathway for occupational cultures to be inspired from the culture. What is important for the organization is the corporate culture, corporate identity and competitive advantage. The two conceptual frameworks of cultural mutual equivalence by Wallace (Cameron, 2017, pp.106) and the process of identity by assimilation, accommodation and evaluation) (Breakwell, 1986, pp.37), can act as a trusting bridge between occupational members and corporate organizations. The process of identity can be explained in three structures. The concept of assimilation and accommodation in an organization can be explained by relating it to the definition of culture. “Collective programming of the minds” (Hofstede, 1991, p.7) is an understanding of culture values and beliefs, and the need for the out-groups to assimilate and accommodate them. The third concept describes the evaluation of assimilation and accommodation of cultural values within the out-groups. By evaluating the ability of the out-groups to adapt to change and perform in complex roles and environments. During the degree of change mangers need to be aware of valence. Lewin speaks about the process of Valence and explains the managers need to be aware of what is valuable to the occupational groups. In the case of hospitality industry, chefs categorize themselves from others in terms of their craft profession. On the contrary what is valuable to the organization is its corporate value and competitive advantage. The proposed concept of mutual equivalence confers the self-percept to an individual’s social concept (Cameron, 2017, pp.103). The occupational cultures performing within the in-group need to work on the basis of mutuality with the organization cultural values and norms. In correlation to that organization as a socio-cultural system who exist to serve the society (Allaire and Firsirotu, 1984, pp.194). They should show a reciprocal relationship towards its occupational members during the time of external environmental changes.


Culture of an organization should be treated in a broader concept. As the concept of culture is inseparable from the origination. In-group and out-groups working within a hospitality organization tend to reflect cognition by the synchronic and diachronic domains of an organization. Hospitality industry still in present uses these historical domains to share values and vision. Since culture is about groups (in-group and out-group) sharing values and norms by cognitive sharing. Occupational culture within the organization self-categorizes themselves on the basis on identity. Identity and culture are meta-concepts and both have a deeper relevance with the reciprocal relationship between occupational and organizational culture. Where symbolic ritualism of chefs’ culture shows a degree of dissonance towards the corporate vision. Organization by creating environment of learning from individual or historical domains can achieve the goal reciprocal relationship. Reciprocal the relationship between the two cultures will lead to in-group’s homogeneity. Period of economic slowdown or other factors pushes the organization to bring a change in the existing policies and reforms. The structural change within the organization might not be embraced by occupational groups. As it has been seen occupational sub-groups are homogenous in nature in these situations which results on in-group heterogeneity effect. Thus, managing the culture from the managerial perspective becomes essential. The concept of valence discussed above describes what can be valuable to occupational groups, such as their occupational culture and for organizations their corporate identity. The process how assimilation and accommodation can be used to assimilate the organizational values and goals in the out-groups. The process of mutual equivalence or mutuality can be used by sub-cultures and organization to embrace each other needs. Thus, viewing culture from a diverse point of view keeping in mind the sub-cultures will in-return will result in long-life of an organization.


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