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New Book! ‘Rethinking Culture’ Now Released on Routledge

Posted on May 31, 2017 by: Chris Fagan

Rethinking Culture
David G White PhD

The entire Ontos team is extremely proud of co-founder David White’s now published book Rethinking Culture: Embodied Cognition and the Origin of Culture in Organizations on Routledge. We’ve now been delivering applications of this research over the last two years.
 
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“Culture” is the most overused and least understood word in business. Beyond a few case studies, the sobering fact is there is little independent research showing culture can deliberately engineered in any large organization. Simplistic relationships such as ‘strong cultures lead to good business results’ have not been systematically observed. Yet managers and consultants persist in believing culture can be engineered to be a source of competitive advantage. What explains the gap between serious research and mainstream practice? Is culture just a fad, or the wishful thinking of CEOs?

The gap can be explained by one simple reason: the science and practice of culture has yet to catch up to our intuition about it. Managers are correct in suspecting culture is a powerful force, but, until now, theory and research has not been able to adequately account for its origins, or how to sustainably change it.

Rethinking Culture changes that.

It describes and presents evidence for a new framework for culture based on the cognitive science of the cultural mind. Using modern, cross-disciplinary research, this book describes how what we do shapes how we think. The mind is deeply analogical: patterns in the environment are replicated as preconscious patterns of cognition that, when shared, underwrite how groups collectively make sense of the world around them. What this means is the primary work of the organization, as well as (or) the professional training and socialization of its dominant groups, is the ‘DNA’ of culture.

Which has profound implications, many of which go against prevailing approaches. It explains why culture change is so hard, and why evidence of successful change hard to come by. The book provides a well-researched framework for culture, and shows its workings in a large, global manufacturing organization. It also provides a blueprint for how to approach culture and change from a grounded, cognitive perspective.

The book will be important for all executives and practitioners interested in modern, sustainable approaches to culture and change that leverages the latest in cognitive science.
 
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“David G. White Jr.’s thoughtful, hard-working and intelligent treatise sounds a cautionary note to current thinking about ‘organizational culture,’ and opens up a fresh, provocative perspective on this popular topic.”

Robert Kegan, Meehan Research Professor of Adult Learning, Harvard University Graduate School of Education

“David White shows how many ‘cultures’ exist in every organization, and they may not be as ‘manageable’ as you think. His scholarly argument suggests evidence that culture emerges from the logic models or ‘schemas’ that help people make sense of the organization and their place in it. This perspective on culture has profound implications for whether and how culture can be shaped and directed, and takes you beyond the hype that culture can be everything and anything.”

Dr. John W. Boudreau, Professor and Research Director, Center for Effective Organizations, University of Southern California

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