Since the financial crisis broke in 2008 it has not been hard to find articles pointing the finger of blame at ‘corporate culture’ in the banking sector as the source of much that went wrong “Banking’s toxic culture ‘will take generation to clean up’, says report” (The Guardian, November 26, 2014). In recent years ‘corporate culture’ has been under scrutiny in other industries too; in oil and gas, “Deepwater Horizon forced culture change on oil and gas industry” (Financial Times, September 30, 2013); the automotive sector, “Why did GM take so long to respond to deadly defect? Corporate culture may hold answer” (The Washington Post, March 30, 2014); and also in consulting “In Scandal’s Wake, McKinsey Seeks Culture Shift” (New York Times, January 11, 2014).
Rather than pursuing the argument that corporate culture is the source of all that is wrong with modern corporates, we want to present an alternative view. Although we do not dispute that in some cases organisational culture can drag down a business, we have also seen how corporate culture, at its best, can be a source of differentiation and competitive advantage.