Organizational culture change: An inter-group attributional analysis


Department of Psychology, City University, Northampton Square, London EC2V 0HB, UK (e-mail:


Attempts by researchers to quantify organizational culture and culture change have been severely hindered by a lack of theoretical models to aid empirical investigation. This paper has two aims. First, a socio-cognitive model of organizational culture is discussed which defines ‘culture’ as the product of a dynamic and collective process of ‘sense-making’ undertaken by members of a group or organization. Second, an empirical case study is presented which uses attributional analysis to quantify the beliefs held by key stakeholder groups involved in a culture change programme within a multi-national manufacturing organization. A total of 1230 attributional statements were coded using a modified version of the Leeds Attributional Coding System (LACS), which included four main dimensions: stable-unstable, global-specific, internal-external, controllable-uncontrollable. Results indicated considerable inter-group differences between managers, trainers and trainees in their cognitive maps as sense-making heuristics of this planned change process. The implications of this model and the usefulness of attributional analysis as a method for evaluating dynamic aspects of organizational culture and culture change are discussed.