What Are Intangible Forms of Organizational Culture?

Intangible forms of organizational culture include attributes such as shared values, attitudes and beliefs. An emphasis on creating a fun and entertaining work atmosphere and expressing genuine concern for people are some examples of intangible elements of organizational culture.

Interpersonal interaction styles and management styles reflect the culture of an organization in an intangible form. For example, one organization may reward getting along well with others and collaboration; another organization may reward competitive or task-oriented behavior. Interpersonal interactions may be strictly formal or collegial. Emphasis on attributes such as creativity or accuracy are other intangible forms of organizational culture.

The tangible and intangible elements of organizational culture share a connection to the mission of the organization. For example, a hospital or military organization may exercise strict lines of authority to ensure safety, while an advertising agency may encourage freedom in making decisions to encourage initiative.

Shared values are powerful influences on organizational culture. Some organizations value pushing hard to "do whatever it takes to get the job done," and others encourage a commitment to home and family. Other shared values include exceptional customer service, excellent product quality or pride in maintaining high safety standards.

Founders and organizational leaders have a high impact on organizational culture, and perceptions regarding organizational culture can differ at different levels of an organization. Although most elements of organizational culture are intangible, tangible elements are present in dress codes and symbols.