CIMA E2: Company Culture

CIMA E2 Culture Exam Tips

Understanding company culture is part of the CIMA E2 syllabus and is an easy one for most people to relate (assuming you have some experience in the workplace).

Culture is described as a combination of beliefs, values and standards of behaviour that are inherent in an organisation.

Company Culture

For example, you might work in an office where, despite the normal working hours being 9am to 5pm, your colleagues all arrive early at 8am. This pattern of behaviour tends to influence others to arrive at the same time, likewise if no one is in the office until 9pm but stays late then this company culture would also influence others in the work place.

Charles Handy describes culture as “The way we do things around here”.

You may believe that management looks at company culture as a topic with low priority in the organisation but in reality it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ensuring a companies culture is consistent with the organisations future direction and strategy is critical to strategical success!

Having a positive company culture such as being a Corporate Social Responsible employer will help attract and retain top performing staff.

Also when there are so many companies out there competing for the top talent, they need to stand out and offer more than just an attractive salary, so being renowned for having an excellent company culture that keeps employees happy and engaged will be key to the company achieving long term and sustainable success.

Charles Handys Cultural Model

Charles Handy suggests there are four over-riding types of culture inherent in an organisation. Let’s take a look at them.


First up is what is known as the “power” culture where is typically one central source of power who makes all of the decisions and the employees have to follow. It’s commonly seen in smaller companies where the owner is the manager/director.

There are few procedures and rules as there are no need for them. The owner makes the decisions and that’s that!

The Power Culture can also be described as the web culture. For instance, the spider that made the web controls and dictates what happens – it’s one central source of power.


The “task” culture focuses on getting the job done and can be associated with project management or complex matrix organisations. The employees are focused on getting their job done and not so concerned with their place within the company.

It requires good communication with a clear emphasis on getting the job done and going home for the day – as opposed to concentrating on the team spirit or relationships within the company.


Is found in workplaces like the government offices or large bureaucratic companies. Unlike the power culture, the role culture has lots of formal rules and procedures that must be followed by all employees.

There is a formal structure in place with every employee having a clear set of roles and responsibilities that must be followed. It’s clear that each role and position in the company has it’s part to play but employees must not cross the boundaries of their roles and responsibilities.


Finally the person culture exists to satisfy the individual rather than the team or the collective. It’s commonly found in sales organisations where the salesmen work independently and for their own benefits (commission on sales).

It can also be linked to legal work such as barristers and legal representatives who work for themselves.

In the person culture, each individual operates independently.

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