Shared understanding across organizational divisions - A qualitative study of store managers in a corporate cultural change process
This study investigates how an organization going through a corporate culture change is performing boundary work and through that reaches a shared understanding among organizational members. During any kind of organizational change, the understanding of boundaries may be altered, hence it needs to be managed in order to steer the organization towards change. This paper applies a qualitative approach where primary data mainly consist of interviews with store managers from a retail company, revealing a previously shattered organization which has successfully reached a common understanding through their cultural change program by performing various types of boundary work. The CEO, value ambassadors of the new culture and regional managers are identified as boundary spanners performing boundary spanning activities such as store visits and culture meetings. Furthermore, the core values of the case company are defined as boundary spanning ideas contributing to boundary discourse. Together, these roles, actions and ideas contributed to the boundary crossing of organizational levels, resulting in a shared understanding which may be seen as a new wider organizational boundary in which the organization performed boundary maintenance work to preserve. By creating different experiences of involvement for organizational members across all divisions of the company through the means of boundary work, store managers experienced a feeling of integration and participation resulting in a shared understanding. Ultimately, this paper contributes to the well-proven fields of both organizational culture change and boundary work by utilizing the notions of boundary work in a cultural change process to display how a shared understanding among organizational members was reached.
MSc in Management