The term culture refers to a total communication and behavioral pattern within an organization. Yukl (2002) defines organizational culture as “the shared values and beliefs of members about the activities of the organization and interpersonal relationships” (p. 108). Schein (2004) observes that culture “points us to phenomena that are below the surface, that are powerful in their impact but invisible and to a considerable degree unconscious. In that sense culture is to a group what personality is to an individual” (p. 8). Culture as a concept, then, is deeply embedded in an organization and relatively difficult to change; yet it has real day-to-day consequences in the life of the organization. According to Baker and Associates (1992), culture is manifest through symbols, rituals, and behavioral norms, and new members of an organization need to be socialized in the culture in order for the whole to function effectively.
Climate refers to the prevailing condition that affects satisfaction (e.g., morale and feelings) and productivity (e.g., task completion or goal attainment) at a particular point in time. Essentially then, climate is a subset of an organization’s culture, emerging from the assumptions made about the underlying value system and finding expression through members’ attitudes and actions (Baker & Associates, 1992).
The way that various individuals behave in an organization influences the climate that exists within that organization. If individuals perceive accepted patterns of behavior as motivating and rewarding their performance, they tend to see a positive environment. Conversely, if they experience patterns of behavior that are self-serving, autocratic, or punishing, then they see a negative climate. The importance of these elements as determiners of quality and productivity and the degree of satisfaction that employees receive from the performance of their jobs have been well documented in the research literature for more than 40 years (Baker & Associates, 1992).
NILIE’s present research examines the value of delegating and empowering others within the organization through an effective management and leadership process. Yukl (2002) defined leadership as “the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how it can be done effectively, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish the shared objectives” (p. 7). The concept of leadership has been studied for many years in a variety of work settings, and there is no one theory of management and leadership that is universally accepted (Baker & Associates, 1992). However, organizational research conducted to date shows a strong relationship between leadership processes and other aspects of the organizational culture. Intensive efforts to conceptualize and measure organizational climate began in the 1960s with Rensis Likert’s work at the University of Michigan. A framework of measuring organizational climate was developed by Likert (1967) and has been adapted by others, including McClelland and Atkinson, as reported in Baker and Glass (1993).
The first adaptation of Likert’s climate concepts research to higher education organizations was employed at the various campuses of Miami-Dade Community College, Florida, in 1986. A modified version of the Likert profile of organizations was used in a case study of Miami-Dade Community College and reported by Roueche and Baker (1987).
Results of the Miami-Dade study indicated that Likert’s four-system theory worked well when applied to a higher education setting. It showed promise not only for measuring climate and responses to leadership style but also for articulating ways both leadership effectiveness and organizational climate could be improved within the institution. Since the Miami-Dade research project, more than 120 institutions have participated in climate studies conducted by NILIE at North Carolina State University. Various versions of the PACE instrument were field-tested through NILIE’s efforts, and several doctoral dissertations.
Baker, G. A., & Associates. (1992). Cultural leadership: Inside America’s community colleges. Washington, DC: Community College Press.
Baker, G. A., & Glass, J. C. (1993). The McClelland-Atkinson model of motivation. Unpublished manuscript. University of Texas at Austin.
Likert, R. (1967). The human organization: Its management and value. New York:
Roueche, J. E., & Baker, G. A. (1987). Access and excellence: The open-door college. Washington DC: Community College Press.
Schein, E. H. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Yukl, G. S. (2002). Leadership in organizations (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: