Within every culture, whether it be at work, in a community, etc. there will be subcultures. Subcultures refer to a group of people who are within the culture, as far as having the same core values of the main culture, but they have different opinions and ideas. It is a group within a group which have different interests and beliefs from the larger culture. In a company, a subculture forms around geographic or organizational units. Groups often find their identity by looking at other group and comparing themselves. This is true of groups within an organization as well. While this can have positive effects for a company culture, such as empowering groups to accomplish more than they would if they worked alone, there are some concerns a company should have when they see a subculture begin to form. (Bhasin, 2020; Gulati et al., 2017)
We have all been there. The production team believes the sales team over promises. Supervisors roll their eyes at management and vice versa. You are not one company team. You find that you are teams of your own subculture. Organizations should be concerned about the development of subcultures because they can give rise to complexity and conflict. Subcultures form wherever people interact on a regular basis. While this identity formation can pull groups together and help build relationships, it can make those subculture groups very rigid and less open to new ideas. This can cause problems when different groups need to work together to accomplish the same goal. Managers need to recognize that the conflict that is seen between two groups is usually due to differences in the way members of these subcultures think, feel, and act within their local culture. When managers have the ability to point out these conflicts as cultural differences, they can better confront what the problem actually stems from and address the situation. (Emerson, 2018; Gulati et al., 2017)
Even though subcultures can be difficult to manage in a company, there are benefits to having subcultures. Subcultures can be advantageous for a company because it gives way to considering different solutions to a problem that are different from the restraint of the main culture. It also can create innovation in the organization and present ways that the dominant culture can coordinate and implement ideas. Subcultures allow employees to have their own ideas and opinions instead of blindly following values and beliefs of dominant culture which may not align with the ethical values. (Gulati et al., 2017)
Subcultures can be a matter of concern because, at times, it can increase conflict and stale various decisions if the managers are not able to recognize why the conflict is happening and problem solve. However, the benefit of having subcultures in an organization is that promotes innovation and can give opportunities for employees to be creative about problem solving.
Bhasin, H. (2020, September 27). Subculture – Definition, Characteristics and Examples. Marketing91. https://www.marketing91.com/subculture/
Emerson, T. (2018, June 11). How to Manage Subcultures in Your Organization | Workforce.com>. Workforce.Com. https://workforce.com/news/how-to-manage-subcultures-organization
Gulati, R., Mayo, A., & Nohria, N. (2017). MindTap – Cengage Learning. Cengage.Com. https://ng.cengage.com/static/nb/ui/evo/index.html?deploymentId=557615113112872025758405199&eISBN=9781305643673&nbId=2485825&snapshotId=2485825&dockAppUid=16&