The Corporate Culture Concept: Pros And Cons


The chosen concept from Robbins and Judge (2016) to be explored in this review is that of corporate culture as a liability. While there is plenty of discussion about how corporate cultures can enhance the performance of a business, assist in retaining employees, and contribute to the quality and excellence of performance, cultures also can be holding companies back. Robbins and Judge (2016) highlight four ways in which culture could be deemed a liability rather than an asset: Institutionalization, resistance to change, opposition to diversity, and rejection of acquisition and merging processes. Cultural toxicity, though scarcely covered in the chapter, also plays an important role in alienating talent and reducing performance rather than uplifting it. The articles reviewed will consider the compatibility of cultures during a merger/acquisition process and the influence of toxicity on responsiveness toward change and diversity.

Article One: Impact of Culture on Mergers and Acquisitions: A Literature Survey

The article by Shah (2019) talks about how corporate culture affects the successes or failures in mergers and acquisitions of two or more companies. It directly investigates the concept highlighted by Robbins and Judge (2016), who states that cultures can be an obstacle to such processes unless significant effort is put into lessening the differences between organizations before, during, and after the merger has been completed. Shah (2019) reviews several incidents studied in literature which led to successful or unsuccessful mergers in terms of corporate culture. One of the prerequisites for the lack of cultural merging is the poor preparation and engagement of the top-level management, Shah (2019) finds. In essence, without prior or proper preparation for mergers, cultures within companies are bound to clash, even when they have similarities and should, in theory, have an easier time meshing with one another. Surprisingly, a strong corporate culture might be a harder barrier to change, as the more established it is, the harder it will resist alterations from an outside force (Shah, 2019).

Another aspect of culture concerning merging and acquisition includes national peculiarities, such as religion, traditions, and law. In an isolated environment, a culture that corresponds to local values is stronger and easier to adapt to individuals (Robbins and Judge, 2016). Shah’s (2019) findings, however, show that when it comes to merging, a culture less rooted in local specifics is more adaptable in the long term, whereas religion, tradition, and local laws tend to impede the process of merging. The reason why culture serves as a liability to merging may be because one constructed on cultural values, rather than corporate values, makes people accustomed to the company catering to their beliefs and needs, rather than its own. A merger and the inherent change and discomfort it brings go against established cultures and their values, making it difficult to conduct.

Finally, there is a dimension of mismatching cultures during mergers. When cultures with opposing values clash, it is difficult to have them work together as part of a merged structure (Shah, 2019). Conflict, in these cases, occurs on all levels of management, from top to bottom. From what it appears, conflict can only be resolved by one culture suppressing the other, which would lead to high turnover rates, reduced morale, and a higher rate of mistakes when previous values of excellency and efficiency are being put into question. Shah (2019) concludes that culture plays a key role both in the short-term and the long-term success of the merger.

Article Two: Toxic Corporate Culture: Assessing Organizational Processes of Deviancy

The article by Rooije and Fine (2018) discusses how toxic corporate culture becomes a liability to the company. It refers to many concepts highlighted by Robbins and Judge (2016), including resistance to change, and opposition to diversity, as well as introducing negative behaviors, such as theft, corruption, harassment, and others. Rooije and Fine (2018) use the examples of BP, Wells Fargo, and Volkswagen. All of these companies have been notorious for their corruption, high-risk practices, and deception across all levels of management. The concept resonates with how Robbins and Judge (2016) describe weak corporate cultures – in the absence of a strong framework, the announced values (on paper) are replaced with those that reflect the internal realities of the company. If the company condones or does not punish destructive behavior, it becomes normalized, which in turn hurts long-term company profits and reputation in favor of personal goals or short-term gains (Rooije & Fine, 2018).

Changing a corporate culture from a negative to a positive one requires tremendous effort, often involving the elimination of all key representatives of the old culture, and doing a thorough revision of what the company represents in the hearts and minds of employees (Rooije & Fine, 2018). Such actions are likely to be associated with short-term financial losses. Despite their detrimental consequences on the company, many managers and employees endorsing the old culture might be occupying key positions or have valuable knowledge of the processes. Replacing such individuals gradually might end up replicating the culture in new employees. At the same time, eliminating them all at the same time might damage the company’s outputs and cause a short-term dip in quality (Rooije & Fine, 2018). Weakening a corrosive culture, thus, has to be done as a multi-vector effort, involving a change in the company ethics and leadership structure while providing a strong emphasis from the top down to change the ways things are done in the company. It is unlikely for the evolution to come from the grassroots, as any new voices would be converted into the old culture.


The concept of corporate culture being an obstacle as much as a boon to the company is possible and is supported by the two articles reviewed in this paper. The basic principle behind positive or negative influence is if the culture is working towards or against the goals of the company. In the examples of mergers, culture poses an obstacle because it works against how things are expected to work, relying on past experiences rather than future visions. Specific culture may help the transition process go smoother or rougher, but the setbacks are always there. When talking about toxic culture, it is a conflict between the announced and actual values of the company. While the vision and mission may be clearly defined, if they are not shared between employees, it will inevitably result in the appearance of a toxic culture. Therefore, it is important for managers and company leaders to always be aware of what corporate culture in their company is and where employees stand.


Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. A. (2016). Essentials of organizational behavior (13th ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson.

Rooij, V. B., & Fine, A. (2018). Toxic corporate culture: Assessing organizational processes of deviancy. Administrative Sciences, 8(3), 23-33.

Shah, B. (2019). Impact of culture on mergers and acquisitions: A literature survey. Pacific Business Review International, 11(7), 135-138.