Essay on Advantages and Disadvantages of Handy’s Model of Organizational Culture

Published: 2021/11/03
Number of words: 1195

Question Four

Many scholars have contributed to various frameworks, which try to explain organizational culture. Handy’s model is one of the theories that are used to explain the different types of organizational cultures that are exhibited (do Carmo Silva and Gomes, 2015, pg.682). The model attributes to four types of cultures, including task, role, person, and power cultures, respectively. Organizational culture is an important aspect that determines the success of an organization in the market. Most successful organizations in the world have embraced a culture that supports understanding and inclusivity. With the wrong culture, an organization can only be retrogressive in the world of business (Austin and Ciaassen, 2008, pg.321). The paper explores the advantages and disadvantages of each of the organizational cultures that are described by Handy. A deeper understanding of the concepts will allow one to know why individuals and organizations behave the way they do in the market.

The first organizational culture identified by Chares Handy is the power culture. Power culture organizations are characterized by a few powerful individuals who coordinate the activities of the rest for an effect in the market. Powerful individuals are responsible for making necessary decisions regarding the operations of the organization (Lewis, 2002, pg.77). As an advantage, organizations with this type of culture enjoy fast decision making that is not faced by bottlenecks. Slow decision making in an organization might hinder progress and efficient execution of duties (Austin and Ciaassen, 2008, pg.328). Some circumstances within the business context might require fast decision making, which does not have to involve everyone at the organization. Equally, the culture is based on results and not the method used to achieve them. The culture relies heavily on individuals rather than teams or committees to oversee various functions at the workplace. As a disadvantage, power culture might not be fit for large organizations (Lewis, 2002, pg.67). For instance, it is hard to control a multinational organization with such a type of culture. Large organizations have a problem working with this culture as it is tedious to link too many operations for a common effect. If managers act in a biased manner in such settings, there is a likelihood for the organization to fail. In extremity, power culture depicts dictatorship, which is not fit for most organizations in the world.

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The second culture that Charles Handy recognized is the task culture, which is based on team operations. In such organizations, employees work within a team working on a project of interest to them (do Carmo Silva and Gomes, 2015, pg.678). Organizations that form use this culture aim to achieve specific targets or solve serious problems within the work setting. The culture aims to unite members within an organization and the necessary resources required to handle a particular project (Andersen, 2003, pg.4). As an advantage, the culture promotes cohesion and capitalizes on individual efforts to get jobs done. The task culture is also essential when the market requires flexibility and sensitivity. The disadvantage associated with this type of culture is that there is a lack of proper control of the methods for improved results. Most managers concentrate on allocating projects to team leaders and do not have enough time to evaluate the procedures that each team uses in the execution of their duties (Andersen, 2003, pg.7). As such, control of operations is a significant problem for task culture within an organization.

Role culture is an evident theme in Handy’s model of organizational culture, which attributes to the tacit role that each individual plays in an organization. Under this culture, employees are allowed to exercise their expertise for an improved effect (Glisson, 2015, pg.245). Individuals are selected to perform various tasks based on their abilities and capabilities. However, it is essential to note that the culture is characterized by strong pillars of senior management staff that oversee operations. As an advantage, the culture allows expertise to reign over power, which is vital in some occasions. Equally, not all managers can perform specific duties due to a lack of expertise on the same. As such, role culture allows employees to exercise and feel some sort of control at work. It helps formal institutions such as big companies to undertake their operations as required. The role culture is disadvantageous to the organization in the event of selection for experts to perform various duties (Nasaireh, Abdullah and Obeidat, 2019, pg.983). If the management exhibits any level of biasness in the selection proves, there is a likelihood of failure. Flawed selection criterion is the probable cause for failure in organizations that practice role culture.

Person culture is the most unusual organizational practice that might be exhibited. The culture allows employees to feel as the most important people in the business rather than customers or managers. Individuals feel that the organization needs them more than they need it, which results in a situation where employees are lazy to perform various duties (Nasaireh, Abdullah and Obeidat, 2019, pg.973). Government offices are characterized by civil servants with such an attitude towards work. Individuals are concerned about their welfare and never seem o care about the operations of the company. In such a scenario, the organization fails in business due to a lack of commitment and will to improve. The type of culture is disadvantageous as it lacks value for any organization (Glisson, 2015, pg.250). Employees with such an attitude at work should be relieved of their duties and hire professionals who are committed to advance organizational success. Person culture is not fit for many organizations as it might prove to be a waste of resources.

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In conclusion, Handy’s model provides a detailed theoretical framework that is used widely to explain organizational culture. The most crucial types of culture mentioned by the scholar include person, power, role, and task cultures, respectively. The paper examines the advantages and disadvantages associated with each of the cultures that were identified by Charles Handy. For instance, the power culture relies on a few individuals at the center to make decisions that affect the business and the organization at large. The model can be used to explain different behavior exhibited in organizations or determinants that influence operations.


Andersen, E.S., 2003. Understanding your project organization’s character. Project Management Journal34(4), pp.4-11.

Austin, M.J. and Ciaassen, J., 2008. Impact of organizational change on organizational culture: Implications for introducing evidence-based practice. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work5(1-2), pp.321-359.

do Carmo Silva, M. and Gomes, C.F.S., 2015. Practices in project management according to Charles Handy’s organizational culture typologies. Procedia Computer Science55, pp.678-687.

Glisson, C., 2015. The role of organizational culture and climate in innovation and effectiveness. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance39(4), pp.245-250.

Lewis, D., 2002. Organization and management in the third sector: toward a cross‐cultural research agenda. Nonprofit Management and Leadership13(1), pp.67-83.

Nasaireh, M.A., Abdullah, A.H. and Obeidat, K.A., 2019. The Relationship Between Cultural Types According to Handy’s Model and Organizational Structure in Jordanian Public Universities. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ACADEMIC RESEARCH IN BUSINESS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES9(1), pp.973-985.

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