Module 4 – Background


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Part 1: The Culture Compass

As the “personality” of an organization, organizational culture has been variously defined. Culture has been a topic of great interest to organizational researchers and practitioners alike, given its apparent influence on such matters as organizational change, performance, and effectiveness. An abstract concept, organizational culture is not all that easily defined – although most of us do know it when we “see” it, or when we experience its characteristics. Much of organizational culture is tacit – it lies below the level of our awareness, as certain agreed-upon assumptions are not made explicit. Culture includes artifacts, symbols, stories, beliefs, habits, value systems, and shared assumptions (“the way we do things around here”). Of course, an organization’s culture can be made more highly complex by virtue of the many sub-cultures that make up the overall culture. Whatever culture is, its elements become most readily apparent to us during the merger of two organizations, particularly so when the culture of the two merging organizations are vastly dissimilar.

Required Resources

Let’s begin our review of organizational culture with the following video:

Organizational culture: What is organizational culture and why does it matter? (2010, September 21). Organization Culture. Retrieved on April 29, 2014, from

Read the following chapter on Organizational Culture:

United States Air War College – National Defense University. (n.d.). Organizational culture Strategic Leadership and Decision Making. Retrieved on April 29, 2014, from

Optional Resources

The following readings are optional, but are provided here to assist you in completion of the Case and SLP:

The following articles pertain to the interrelationship among the organization’s strategy, its leadership, and its culture:

Boal, K.B. & Schultz, P.L. (2007). Storytelling, time, and evolution: The role of strategic leadership in complex adaptive systems. Leadership Quarterly, 18(4), 411-428. Retrieved from Science Direct.

Gander, M. J. (2009). Managing people in a lean environment: The power of informal controls and effective management of company culture. Journal of Business Case Studies, 5(6), 105-110. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Goldman, E. F. (2012). Leadership practices that encourage strategic thinking. Journal of Strategy and Management, 5(1), 25-40. Retrieved from ProQuest.

McNamara, C. (2000). Organizational culture and changing culture. Free Management Library. Retrieved on April 29, 2014, from

Taneja, S., Pryor, M. G., Humphreys, J. H., & Singleton, L. P. (2013). Strategic management in an era of paradigmatic chaos: Lessons for managers. International Journal of Management, 30(1), 112-126. Retrieved from ProQuest on November 12, 2013.

United States Air War College – National Defense University. (n.d.). Organizational culture Strategic Leadership and Decision Making. Retrieved on April 29, 2014, from

Vera, D., & Crossan, M. (2004). Strategic leadership and organizational learning. Academy of Management Review, 29(2), 222-240. Retrieved from EBSCO.

Wilderom, C.P., van den Berg, P.T., & Wiersma, U.J. (2012). A longitudinal study of the effects of charismatic leadership and organizational culture on objective and perceived corporate performance. Leadership Quarterly, 23(5), 835-848. Retrieved from Science Direct.

Yarbrough, L., Morgan, N. A., & Vorhies, D. W. (2011). The impact of product market strategy-organizational culture fit on business performance. Academy of Marketing Science Journal, 39(4), 555-573. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Part 2: The Moral Compass

Most of us would agree that the behaviors of Enron’s Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling and WorldCom’s Bernie Ebbers – unethical as they were – violated the public trust. Perhaps the old cliché: “Good ethics is good business” is falling on an ever-increasing number of deaf ears these days.

Who decides what is “moral” or “ethical”? Certainly, “ethics” can mean different things to different people. And people have differing ideas concerning whether any given situation is or is not ethical. I doubt we would disagree as to whether Ken Lay’s, Bernie Ebbers’ or John Rigas’ behaviors were unethical – in fact, all are convicted criminals. But there are no steadfast rules for acting ethically under all conditions. If there were, we would need no reminders, and the Moral Compass would not be a compass at all.

Required Resources

A key question to be answered in Module 4 concerns an organization’s sense of ethics, and how they relate to the strategic planning process – and to the strategic choices made by the organization. Certainly, a leader’s values are no doubt highly influential in the strategic planning process:

Frost, J. (2014). Values based leadership. Industrial and Commercial Training, 46(3), 124-129. doi:

While the following article is a bit dated, it remains an excellent – and highly relevant – discussion of the relationship between ethics, social responsibility, and strategy:

Wilson, I. (2000). The new rules: Ethics, social responsibility and strategy. Strategy & Leadership, 28(3), 12-16. Retrieved from ProQuest.

What do values and ethics mean for Strategic Leadership? In Module 1, we discussed the significance of the organization’s formal, written values statement to the strategic planning process. For better or for worse, an organization’s “real” values play a central and most critical role in strategic direction (to make this point clear, compare the values of Southwest Airlines with the values of companies such as Enron or WorldCom):

Okantey, P.C. (2013). When values and ethics lead the way in organizations. Strategic Leadership Review, 3(2), 23-29. Retrieved on April 29, 2014 from

Do strategists and ethicists live on different planets? This question is considered in the following article:

Behnam, M., & Rasche, A. (2009). Are strategists from Mars and ethicists from Venus? – strategizing as ethical reflection. Journal of Business Ethics, 84(1), 79-88. Retrieved on November 14, 2013, from ProQuest.

Read Chapter 15 of Fernandes’ book as it relates to values and ethics:

Fernandes, T. (2009). Strategic leadership and decision making – Book 2. Dehli: Global Media.

Optional Resources

Browse any of the following articles pertaining to the Moral Compass and its relationship to Strategic Leadership. These articles relate to inclusion of ethics in the strategic planning process, the means by which organization’s mores influence its strategic decisions, and how incongruence between action and stated values can spell trouble for the organization’s success:

Elms, H., Brammer, S., Harris, J. D., & Phillips, R. A. (2010). New directions in strategic management and business ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly, 20(3), 401-425. Retrieved from EBSCO – Business Source Complete.

McManus, J. (2011). Revisiting ethics in strategic management. Corporate Governance, 11(2), 214-223. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Milton-Smith, J. (1995). Ethics as excellence: A strategic management perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 14(8), 683. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Phipps, K. A. (2012). Spirituality and strategic leadership: The influence of spiritual beliefs on strategic decision making. Journal of Business Ethics, 106(2), 177- 189. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Robertson, C. J., Blevins, D. P., & Duffy, T. (2013). A five-year review, update, and assessment of ethics and governance in strategic management journal. Journal of Business Ethics, 117(1), 85-91. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Spears, U. (2012). Word-action signals: Identifying incongruence between strategic leadership practices and values. Strategic Leadership Review, 2(2), 21-27. Retrieved on April 29, 2014, from

Module 4 – Case Assignment


Assignment Overview

In the Module 4 Case, we will complete an in-depth analysis of an organization’s culture, and determine the extent to which the organization’s culture fits with the organization’s strategic choices. Begin by reading the following article:

Ford, R. C., Wilderom, C., & Caparella, J. (2008). Strategically crafting a customer-focused culture: An inductive case study. Journal of Strategy and Management, 1(2), 143-167. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Case Assignment

Using the article above, write a 6- to 7-page paper in which you address the following:

Complete an in-depth, comprehensive analysis of the Gaylord Palms’ organizational culture and values, analyzing the ways in which the specific components of organizational culture and values assist – or impede – the success of the organization’s strategic choices.

Keys to the Assignment

The key aspects of this assignment that are to be covered in your 6- to 7- page paper include the following:

Using the Module 4 Background readings related to organizational culture, and after performing additional research in the library, explain how organizational culture at the Gaylord Palms Hotel:

Creates meaning for its members;

Establishes informal organizational controls; and

Ensures (or alternatively, hinders) the success of Gaylord Palms’ strategic choices.

Which of Gaylord Palms’ values are most salient, and how do these same values relate to the organization’s culture?

What is required for an organization’s culture to be “effective”? Is Gaylord Palms’ organizational culture an “effective” culture? Why or why not? Be specific.

What specific characteristics/elements of Gaylord Palms’ organizational culture do you believe are most significant relative to ensuring the success of Gaylord Palms’ strategic direction (e.g., symbols, artifacts, roles, etc.)? Why?

Be sure to use a minimum of three (3) library sources in support of your answers!

Module 4 – SLP Assignment


Assignment Overview

In the Module 4 SLP, we will explore your target organization’s culture, and determine the extent to which culture relates to the success of your organization’s strategic choices.

Write a 3- to 4-page paper in which you address the following:

After completing some research concerning the culture of your selected organization, discuss assess the extent to which your organization’s stated values and culture do – or do not – support the grand strategy you selected in the Module 3 SLP.

Keys to the Assignment

The key aspects of this assignment that should be covered in your 3- to 4-page paper include the following:

Perform some research in the library and at your target organization’s website, and learn as much as you can about the organization’s culture.

Describe the organization’s culture (its artifacts, symbols, stories, and other characteristics).

Identify three (3) stated values of your chosen organization, and discuss how well these values support the organization’s strategies.

Briefly restate the strategy you selected in the Module 3 SLP, and state why this strategy was selected (e.g., overcome weaknesses, maximize strengths, etc.).

Critically assess the extent to which the organization’s culture and values support – or do not support – the strategy or strategies that you identified in the Module 3 SLP.

Module 4 – Outcomes



Assess the extent to which an organization’s culture is supportive of the organization’s strategic direction.

Identify the stated values of an organization, assessing the extent to which the organization’s sense of “morality” (values) aligns with its strategic choices.


Assess the culture of an organization, and determine whether the organizational culture is consistent with (and is supportive of) its strategic direction.


Evaluate the culture of the selected organization, and assess the extent to which the organization’s culture aligns with its strategic choices.


Using the organization chosen for the SLP, discuss the role of an organization’s culture and morality/ values in determining the success of grand strategy.


Discussion: The Culture and Moral Compasses

Discussion Topic

Task: Reply to this topic

Week 1

In the Module 3 Discussion, you used the Grand Strategy Selection Matrix (GSSM) to determine your selected organization’s grand strategy. After describing several of the most salient/notable characteristics of the culture of the organization you have selected for the SLP, respond to the following (Week 1):

Does the organization’s culture “fit” the grand strategy you selected in the Module 2 Discussion? Explain.

Even if the culture fits the strategy well, is there anything you would change in order to better ensure the success of the grand strategy you selected in the Module 2 Discussion?

Assuming that the culture does not fit the strategy well, what specifically would you change, and how would you go about doing so?

Week 2

In the Module 2 Discussion, you used the GSSM to choose a grand strategy for your target (SLP) organization. In Week 2 of the Module 4 Discussion, respond to the following:

Describe your organization’s stated values.

Discuss how well your organization’s values align with the grand strategy you chose in the Module 2 Discussion (using the GSSM).

Discuss the implications that an organization’s values have for strategic choice.

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