Organizational Culture Profiles in Local Government Authority Recreation Services: Some Australian Evidence


  • Sue Colyer
  • Geoff Soutar
  • Paul Ryder


Australia, competing values model, local government authority, organizational culture, recreation services, Western Australia


This paper reports on organizational cultural profiles of four local government authorities in Western Australia. The results were extracted from a larger study of organizational effectiveness in which organizational culture was examined as a separate component and for its contribution of the effectiveness of recreation services. A competing values model of organizational culture was used to measure recreation workers perceptions of the cultural values in their respective municipalities.Cultural profiles were developed for 4 cities to show the different emphasis each placed on the values of the four cultural dimensions: group, developmental, rational and hierarchical cultural values. The competing values model, based on the work of Quinn and Spreitzer (1991 ), has been shown in the literature to be a useful tool to provide comparisons of organizational culture of different organizations, not easily achieved by qualitative approaches. This model is deceptive in its simplicity of application, yet powerful in its ability to depict the dominance of specific sets of organization cultural values as perceived by organizational members. The cultural profiles of the four cities are discussed and the differences described as a means of demonstrating the how cultural values may influence the effectiveness of a recreation service. Each profile provides a snap shot of an organization to show the prevailing cultural emphases, from which it is possible to determine if the organization is operating from the most effective domain. The discussion around the concept of organizational culture, and the competing values model for measuring it, is used to draw the attention of parks and recreation practitioners to consider the role of organizational culture in the effectiveness and success of their agencies.Organizational culture is enduring and difficult to change. Yet in this time of short term contracts, rapid and constant change, managers of parks and recreation services need to be aware of the importance of organizationa! culture and its latent impact. Some suggestions are offered for applying the competing values model to measure organizational culture. The results may be used to identifY the dominance of the different values for comparison against a desired perspective or in other situations that will be influenced by the prevailing underlying assumptions about the best way to achieve success for the organization. Some strategies for introducing cultural change are also offered, with some cautions. The paper concludes with suggestions for further study of organizational culture in parks and recreation services.





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