4 Types of Organizational Culture

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This Week: What are 4 types of organizational culture?

According to Robert E. Quinn and Kim S. Cameron at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, there are four types of organizational culture: Clan, Adhocracy, Market, and Hierarchy.

  • Clan oriented cultures are family-like, with a focus on mentoring, nurturing, and “doing things together.”
  • Adhocracy oriented cultures are dynamic and entrepreneurial, with a focus on risk-taking, innovation, and “doing things first.”
  • Market oriented cultures are results oriented, with a focus on competition, achievement, and “getting the job done.”
  • Hierarchy oriented cultures are structured and controlled, with a focus on efficiency, stability and “doing things right.”

There’s no correct organizational culture for an arts organization. All cultures promote some forms of behavior, and inhibit others. Some are well suited to rapid and repeated change, others to slow incremental development of the institution.

For example, Quinn and Cameron associate the lower two cultures (Hierarchy and Market) with a principal focus on stability and the upper two (Clan and Adhocracy) with flexibility and adaptability. A Hierarchy culture based on control will lead mainly to incremental change, while a focus on Adhocracy will more typically lead to breakthrough change.

The right culture will be one that closely fits the direction and strategy of a particular organization as it confronts its own issues and the challenges of a particular time.

What culture do you want for your organization and how might you move towards it in the future?

Looking for more inspiration?

We also encourage you to explore our Innovation Stories collection, which shares narratives from organizations that are daring to do things differently in order to adapt to their rapidly shifting environment.

Interested in pursuing adaptive change work at your own organization? We encourage you to check out some of the service offerings from EmcArts, the nonprofit service provider behind ArtsFwd.


Every week, the Tipster brings you easy-to-digest bits of inspiration to challenge your thinking and advance your practice.

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  • Nelson Nigel

    What is the best mix of all 4 types called?

    • Hey Jaybree and Nelson, the key phrase in the piece is: “The right culture will be one that closely fits the direction and strategy of a particular organization as it confronts its own issues and the challenges of a particular time.” There is no “best” in practice, but a matter of aligning and influencing culture that fits your current and upcoming goals, your history to date, and the kind of business you’re in

  • Jaybree

    When u blend adhocracy and market culture in an organization, what could this blend be called in one word!

    • Rather than trying to come up with more clever names, we encourage folks to think about and pinpoint the blend your organization currently sits in (or in some cases, a realm it squarely sits in).

  • Hamees Hesham

    How can I implement culture adhocracy?