The Role of Organizational Culture in Transformation - Two case studies in the context of retail and construction industries

Anne Lehto

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


These two case studies aim to illuminate organizational culture's role during a transformation, more specifically in the integration process of an M&A and in the development and implementation phases of an integrated project alliance. The M&A case is situated in the environment of retailing, and the project alliance case in the context of the construction field. As a contextual theme, there is a need for studies that get into the underpinnings of organizational culture in various environments. Retail trade and construction represent quite remarkable industries, but despite their being very personnel intensive fields, there are only a few studies concentrating on people issues, or—more specifically—on organizational culture. The role of organizational culture in transformation was described by evaluating whether the role hinders or supports the change. As a conclusion, it was stated that the assumptions of the role were not totally integrated but instead were controversial in their attitudes about the role of organizational culture during certain phases. The supportive role was most effective in situations where the values and rules of the game were in line with the learning of the history or with the culture of the other co-operating companies. It also became obvious that instead of one integration process, there were pluralist unsynchronized, parallel integration processes to be identified. The contextual nature of organizational culture was analyzed by including aspects such as owner culture and the effect of other stakeholders, together with cultural issues of norms, values and basic assumptions. To conclude, the hindering role, or inertia, was noticed in situations where there was a mismatch between the intraorganizational business system and operating processes in case one. In case two, the hindering role was most obvious when the original organizational cultures of participating organizations and the core team were mismatched. The different background and cultural basis of owners/stakeholders prolonged the time for finding a new balance in the system. The multi-store structure and the distance between the organizational level appeared in fragmented attitudes and opinions of changes, and were factors influencing the pace of cultural turns in case one. In case two, the organizational culture of the project team emerged to be quite integrated, but the field organization was acting simultaneously according to its own behavioral rules. Besides the above observations, the most significant implications of this study were the different timing of cultural clashes and the versatile roles of the organizational culture through multiple parallel integration processes that follow the organizational design. The meaning of owner culture was also among the interesting findings that deserve further research.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Lindblom, Arto, Supervisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8524-1
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8525-8
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • organizational culture
  • retail
  • construction
  • M&A
  • project alliance
  • integrated project delivery

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