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The Competing Values of Company Culture

We recently attended a seminar held by Haworth on the Competing Values of Company Culture Framework. The goal of the seminar was to understand your company culture type and how to design for that culture. Through the interactive session, we learned that every organization is made up of many people who need different things to succeed and many departments, which need different things to succeed. Sometimes the requirements of one department are in direct opposition to the those of another department. Haworth developed a framework to help organizations understand and identify their existing culture and harness it for success in the workplace.


The Competing Values Framework was developed from research on the effectiveness of many organizations. The research identified four culture types that span across two primary dimensions:

  1. Internal vs. External
    1. A company which places focus on inward collaboration, integration, and unity as opposed to those organizations which have an external focus on competition, differentiation, and rivalry.
  2. Flexibility vs. Stability
    1. Organizations which emphasize order and control versus adaptation and dynamism.

Along this spectrum, there are four major culture types:

Collaborate Culture- An organization that focuses on long-term internal development and team building and supports a work environment that demonstrates flexibility, concern for people and sensitivity for customers.

Create Culture- An organization that concentrates on doing things first by differentiating itself externally with a high degree of experimentation and individuality.

Control Culture- An organization that focuses on doing things right through internal procedure with a need for stability and control.

Compete Culture- An organization that focuses on doing things fast through external competition with a focus on results.



It’s important to understand that within every organization, all four of these culture types exist. You may be an organization which has a strong emphasis on creativity, but there are people and departments within your organization that thrive on control. There are ways that the design of a space can support each culture type, while still remaining true to the company’s overall culture. In our next blog post on this topic, we will discuss how to design based on these competing values.

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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