4G01 Corporate Culture

Each corporation has distinct characteristics, not only in terms of how it conducts its major business and the skill backgrounds it needs, but also in terms of its management style and the behaviors it tends to foster and reward among its employees. The CO should gather information that indicates or describes the contractor’s corporate culture. This information may help the CO understand how the corporation makes management selection decisions. While some of this information may be found through research, including corporate self-descriptions, a CO will usually get a better picture during the on-site review, including through interviews and observations made while visiting on-site.

a. Corporate Business. The nature of a corporation’s business will tend to determine which corporate components are most essential to its profitability. For example, at a corporation that produces a fairly simple consumer product, marketing and sales are likely to be most central to profitability. On the other hand, in a corporation engaged in advanced research, engineering or scientific expertise is likely to be central to profitability. As a general rule, employees in those functional areas (which are also usually line rather than staff positions) will have better advancement potential.

b. Other Factors. There are usually meaningful differences in predominant management style and valued employee behavior between different corporations, even in the same industry. For example, one employer may value somewhat egalitarian management, while another prefers a more authoritarian approach. Or, one employer may value employee initiative and creativity, while another may place a higher value on mastery of standard procedures. Or, one employer may require rotational assignments (with or without frequent relocations or international stints) to develop a broad knowledge of the business, while another may more heavily weigh depth of expertise in the business area to be managed. Such differences also can extend to matters such as acceptable dress, expectations concerning uncompensated overtime, socializing outside work hours, etc.

These and other differences are not necessarily conscious ones. However, the degree of “fit” between what a corporation values and what an employee values or learns to value can influence whether a person will advance to management and, if so, what management level he or she is likely to reach. The importance of such “fit” usually increases with management level.