The “Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument” (OCAI) developed by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn is a validated research method to examine organizational culture. 

Considerable research was involved in developing the OCAI. Professors Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron developed the model of the Competing Values Framework which consists of four Competing Values that correspond with four types of organizational culture.

Every organization has its own mix of these four types of organizational cultures.

This mix is found by the completion of a short questionnaire. This assessment is a valid method to examine organizational culture and the desire for change. The OCAI is currently used by over 10,000 companies worldwide.

A culture profile shows the following:

  1. The dominant culture
  2. Discrepancy between present and preferred culture
  3. The strength of the dominant culture (the number of points awarded)
  4. The congruency of the six aspects (Cultural incongruence often leads to a desire to change, because different values and goals can take a lot of time and discussion)
  5. Comparison of the culture profile with the average for the sector or industry group
  6. Comparison with average trends; in what phase of development is the organization 


The results   

From Quinn and Cameron’s extensive research, it was found that most organizations have developed a dominant culture style. An organization rarely has only one culture type. Often, there is a mix of the four organizational cultures.

The Competing Values Framework states that the values and the corresponding organizational cultures compete with each other. Organizations can spend their money, attention, and time only once, so they tend to emphasize certain values. Quinn and Cameron found that flexible organizations are the most effective, which sometimes leads to contradictory behavior. The “best” organizations can handle the competition within this framework well and use all four value sets when necessary.

A culture type works best in the activities domain that aligns with that specific culture type. In the health care sector for instance, we found a lot of clan culture. This type naturally fits in with the profession of taking care of people. There is no ultimate “best” organizational culture. Only in a certain context will one type of culture serve better than another. 


The Competing Values Framework 

From a list of thirty-nine indicators of effectiveness for organizations, two important dimensions were discovered by statistical analysis.

Cameron and Quinn made four quadrants corresponding with the four organizational cultures that differ strongly on these two dimensions:

  • Internal focus and integration VS External focus and differentiation
  • Stability and control VS Flexibility and discretion

To the left in the graph, the organization is internally focused (what is important for us, and how do we want to work?), and to the right the organization is externally focused (what is important for the outside world, the clients, and the market?).

At the top of the graph, the organization desires flexibility and discretion, while at the bottom the organization values the opposite: stability and control.


Why do organizations and teams use the OCAI?

The OCAI online culture assessment will provide you with the following:

  • Insight into the dominant culture of your organization
  • Insight into how market focused, hierarchic, personal and/or innovative your organization works
  • A measure of contentment by assessing the difference between current and preferred culture
  • A quick and easy point of comparison before and after reengineering, change, or merger
  • A clear image of the preferred culture as a starting point for a strategy of change
  • An awareness of culture as an important factor in success
  • An objective and validated measure of how culture is perceived, which is a starting point for change

Research shows that organizational culture is “the difference that makes the difference”—it is the reason why 70 percent of all mergers and reorganizations fail. The powerful cultural factor is really not as “vague” as prejudice would have it. Culture is usually experienced as obvious: people are not so aware. That’s why a description of it is not so easy, while changing culture is even harder.

The strength of the OCAI measurement is in the typology of your culture so that you can start to see and describe it. It is a first step. OCAI offers you some grip to actually start changing; what direction are we taking? With the OCAI Work Kit that OCAI Online offers you, you also have a step-by-step manual to fully utilize this method.


Use the OCAI method with its clear advantages for diagnosing and changing culture: 

  1. It’s focused: it measures the six key dimensions that make a difference in success.
  2. It’s timely: both assessing and developing a change strategy can be accomplished in a reasonable period.
  3. It’s involving: either by including all personnel or those who give direction and guide change.
  4. It’s quantitative: providing measurement from the test, completed by qualitative information during the process of discussing and working with the results to establish the desired changes.
  5. It’s manageable: it can be undertaken and implemented by a (management) team; no outside experts or consultants are needed.
  6. It is valid: not only do people recognize their outcomes, but the OCAI is also validated and has a verified foundation.



The Clan Culture 

This working environment is a friendly one. People have a lot in common, and it’s similar to a large family. The leaders or the executives are seen as mentors or maybe even as father figures. The organization is held together by loyalty and tradition. There is great involvement. The organization emphasizes long-term Human Resource development and bonds colleagues by morals. Success is defined within the framework of addressing the needs of the clients and caring for the people. The organization promotes teamwork, participation, and consensus.

Leader Type: Facilitator, mentor, team builder
Value Drivers: Commitment, communication, development
Theory of Effectiveness: Human Resource development and participation are effective
Quality Improvement Strategy: Empowerment, team building, employee involvement, Human Resource development, open communication


The Adhocracy Culture

This is a dynamic and creative working environment. Employees take risks. Leaders are seen as innovators and risk takers. Experiments and innovation are the bonding materials within the organization. Prominence is emphasized. The long-term goal is to grow and treate new resources. The availability of new products or services is seen as success. The organization promotes individual initiative and freedom.

Leader Type: Innovator, entrepreneur, visionary
Value Drivers: Innovative outputs, transformation, agility
Theory of Effectiveness: Innovativeness, vision and new resources are effective
Quality Improvement Strategy: Surprise and delight, creating new standards, anticipating needs, continuous improvement, finding creative solutions 


The Market Culture 

This is a results-based organization that emphasizes finishing work and getting things done. People are competitive and focused on goals. Leaders are hard drivers, producers, and rivals at the same time. They are tough and have high expectations. The emphasis on winning keeps the organization together. Reputation and success are the most important. Long-term focus is on rival activities and reaching goals. Market penetration and stock are the definitions of success. Competitive prices and market leadership are important. The organizational style is based on competition.

Leader Type: Hard driver, competitor, producer
Value Drivers: Market share, goal achievement, profitability
Theory of Effectiveness: Aggressively competing and customer focus are effective
Quality Improvement Strategy: Measuring client preferences, improving productivity, creating external partnerships, enhancing competiveness, involving customers and suppliers 


The Hierarchy Culture

This is a formalized and structured work environment. Procedures decide what people do. Leaders are proud of their efficiency-based coordination and organization. Keeping the organization functioning smoothly is most crucial. Formal rules and policy keep the organization together. The long-term goals are stability and results, paired with efficient and smooth execution of tasks. Trustful delivery, smooth planning, and low costs define success. The personnel management has to guarantee work and predictability.

Leader Type: Coordinator, monitor, organizer
Value Drivers: Efficiency, timeliness, consistency, and uniformity
Theory of Effectiveness: Control and efficiency with capable processes are effective
Quality Improvement Strategy: Error detection, measurement, process control, systematic problem solving, quality tools