Mining the Cultural Evidence: Situating Planning and Leadership within the Academic Library Culture


Lyn Currie
Head, Education & Music Library
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada


Carol Shepstone
University Librarian
Mount Royal University
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Received: 5 Dec. 2011                                                                      Accepted: 2 July 2012



Description: Description: Description: Description: cc-ca_logo_xl 2012 Currie and Shepstone. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative CommonsAttributionNoncommercialShare Alike License 2.5 Canada (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly attributed, not used for commercial purposes, and, if transformed, the resulting work is redistributed under the same or similar license to this one.






Objective – This study investigated organizational culture in two academic libraries in order to propose culturally responsive strategies for developing planning and leadership initiatives. A case study conducted at the University of Saskatchewan Library (Shepstone & Currie, 2008) was replicated at two other Canadian academic libraries to generate some comparative data on organizational culture in Canadian academic libraries.


Methods – The Competing Values Framework (Cameron & Quinn, 1999, 2006) provided the theoretical framework and the methodology for diagnosing and understanding organizational culture. The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) was administered by questionnaire to all library staff at Mount Royal University and Carleton University libraries.


Results – Scores on the OCAI were used to graphically plot and describe the current and preferred culture profiles for each library. We compared the cultures at the three libraries and proposed strategies for initiating planning and developing leadership that were appropriate for the preferred cultures.


Conclusions – This research demonstrates that academic library culture can be diagnosed, understood, and changed in order to enhance organizational performance. Examining organizational culture provides evidence to guide strategy development, priority setting and planning, and the development of key leadership abilities and skills. Creating culturally appropriate support mechanisms, opportunities for learning and growth, and a clear plan of action for change and improvement are critical.






There is a growing interest within the library sector in the role organizational culture plays in shaping the workplace and contributing to the effectiveness and success of the organization. An analysis of organizational culture provides a context and starting point for creating a road map for change and continued organizational development. A clear understanding of the organizational cultures can help libraries to grow and thrive, and help determine the right pathways for organizational change (Roberts, 2009).


Culture is often defined as the sum of activities – symbolic and instrumental – that exist in the organization and create shared meaning. Socialization is the process through which individuals acquire and incorporate an understanding of those activities. Organizational culture gives identity, provides collective commitment, builds social system stability, and allows people to make sense of the organization (Sannwald, 2000).


Mining the cultural evidence provides rich organizational data to inform planning. Assessing the organizational culture provides evidence of the collective will and the norms at play within an organization at a particular point in time, how the members of the organization might want to change and reshape these norms, and how these patterns might influence future success of the organization. Studying the cultural dynamics of an organization also enables us to recognize the shared goals and actions that are most likely to succeed and how they can be best implemented.


A research study in 2006 at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Library explored the organizational cultures of the library and proposed actions to implement culture change and achieve organizational transformation and renewal (Shepstone & Currie, 2008). At the time of the study, 15 of 38 librarians were new to the library and addressing their socialization and acculturation (Black & Leysen, 2002) raised questions concerning the impact of the library’s culture on their work. In addition, analyzing the library’s culture would also inform the strategic planning process and contribute to the transformation and renewal initiated by the new Dean of the Library.


Having completed that study we were interested in comparing our findings at the U of S with other Canadian academic libraries. An opportunity to do this was pursued in 2009 when two of the researchers, recently appointed as senior administrators at Carleton University and Mount Royal University, replicated the U of S study. The U of S study had focused on identifying culture preferences and proposing strategies to achieve a culture change. In the new studies the researchers examined culture preferences in order to focus on planning and leadership, key elements for change that had been identified in the 8Rs study of human resource trends in Canadian cultural industries (8Rs Research Team, 2005). (Note that Mount Royal University officially moved from college to university status in September 2009. The data for this article were gathered prior to this name change.)


The researchers also hoped that generating some comparative data on organizational culture in Canadian academic libraries would provide a basis for further research on the academic library culture in Canada.


Literature Review


Organizational Culture and Change


We have reported previously on the research that demonstrates the importance of assessing culture in order to achieve significant and lasting change in an organization (Shepstone & Currie, 2006, 2008).


Understanding an organization’s culture is essential for managing change and improving institutional performance (Gregory, 2008; Quinn, 1988; Schein, 2004). Tierney (2008) comments that understanding organizational culture is critical for those who recognize that academe must change but are unsure how to make that change happen. An understanding of culture enables an organization’s participants to interpret the institution to themselves and others, and in consequence to propel the institution forward.


For any organizational change to be sustainable there need to be changes to perceptions, beliefs, patterns of behaviour and norms, and ways of sense-making that have developed over long periods of time. The culture of an organization creates behavioural expectations that direct employees to act in ways that are consistent with its culture. Behaviour change then is critical to the success of any culture change. Institutionalizing change in an organizational culture requires a conscious attempt to show people how the new approaches, behaviours, and attitudes have helped improve performance, and taking sufficient time to ensure the next generation of leaders and managers personify the new approach (Kotter, 1996). The “Seven S” model of Waterman, Peters, and Phillips (1980) recognized that successful culture change may require a change in structure, symbols, systems, staff, strategy, style of leaders, and skills of managers.


As learning and knowledge-creating organizations, academic libraries are places where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they desire and where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured (Senge, 1990). Garvin (1993) describes a learning organization as skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge and at modifying its behaviour to reflect new knowledge and insights. An organization that modifies rather than reinforces behaviour needs a schema of socialization that allows for creativity and difference to flourish, and encourages new members to participate in the re-creation rather than merely the discovery of a culture.


Organizational Culture and Leadership


A full, nuanced understanding of an organization’s culture assists leaders in articulating decisions in a way that speaks to the needs of members of the organization and marshals their support. When we use a cultural perspective we have a better understanding of how seemingly unconnected acts and events fall into place and how to help the organization’s members move forward.


An awareness of organizational culture encourages leaders to consider real and potential conflicts within the organization, to recognize structural or operational contradictions that suggest tensions in the organization, to implement and evaluate everyday decisions with a keen awareness of their role and influence on organizational culture, to understand the symbolic dimensions of ostensibly instrumental decisions and actions, and to consider why different groups in the organization have varying perceptions about institutional performance (Tierney, 2008).


Numerous theoretical frameworks for studying leadership in higher education institutions have been proposed, such as Baldridge’s (1971) tripartite model of academic governance, which characterizes organizational types and how leadership manifests its character in each. Studies of leadership in the postsecondary sector, as well as the public, business, and military sectors, have given rise to the emergence of organizational theories of ambiguity, organized anarchy, garbage can processes, and loose coupling (Cohen & March, 1974; March & Olsen, 1986; Mohr, 1982; Scott, 1981; Weick, 1979).


Recent research has focussed on shared governance as a form of collaborative leadership which incorporates the specialized knowledge and experience from all staff and increases the effectiveness of policy-making, to bring a broader range of experience and knowledge to weigh on decision-making than traditional hierarchical leadership (Escover, 2008; Hansen, 2009). Gobillot (2009) argues that “connected leadership” involves leaders engaging with employees, improving performance by building trust, and giving meaning to workplace relationships. The aim of leadership is to secure engagement, alignment, accountability, and commitment.


Researchers have also investigated leadership, change, and institutional effectiveness within postsecondary institutions (Kezar & Lester, 2009; Kuh & Whitt, 1988; Tierney, 2008). Bergquist and Pawlak’s (1992, 2008) analysis of the interaction of academic cultures and the leadership practices needed to engage all six cultures has contributed to our understanding of organizational behaviour in higher education. The six cultures operating in the academy – the collegial, managerial, developmental, advocacy, virtual, and tangible –­ are what make higher education institutions so challenging to learn in, work in, administer, and lead.


Cameron and Quinn (1999, 2006) explored the relationship between leadership roles and managerial skills, and personal and organizational effectiveness, in order to identify the leadership competencies most needed to support an organizational culture change process. They found that in organizations with a dominant culture type, the most effective managers and high-performing leaders demonstrate a matching leadership style while parenthetically developing capabilities and skills that allow them to succeed in other culture types. Leaders operate both within the context of the culture and as change agents upon the culture. Pors (2008) explored the relationship between library directors’ behaviour, style, and propensity to acquire information, and the direction and change processes in libraries. He argued that leadership is an important element in the configuration of organizational culture, and both leadership styles and the leader’s approach to innovation, change, and competency development are important in relation to the directions of the organization. Bolman and Deal (2008) developed four perspectives or frames for understanding organizational leadership (structural, human resource, political, and symbolic), and described the leadership values evident in each. They concluded that for leaders to be successful, they need the ability to see organizations as organic forms in which needs, roles, power, and symbols must be integrated to provide direction and shape behaviour.


The literature on library leadership (Garvin, Edmonson, & Gino, 2008; Hernon & Rossiter, 2007; Hernon & Schwartz, 2008; Mathews, 2002; Mech & McCabe, 1998; Riggs, 1999) discusses the emergence of leadership theories and styles, such as situational, distributed, authentic, transactional, and transformational leadership, and focuses on examining leadership competencies and effectiveness.


For Maloney, Antelman, Arlitsch, and Butler (2010), organizational culture defines and creates leaders – those who have the ability to recognize changes in the external environment that necessitate internal change and are able to lead an adaptation of their own organization’s culture to meet new challenges.


Some researchers have been critical of the lack of evidence-based research on library leadership. Weiner (2003) claims that many aspects of leadership have not been addressed and a comprehensive body of cohesive, evidence based research is needed. Lakos (2007) supports creating a culture of assessment and argues for leadership that enables a library to accept evidence based management based on the use of data in planning and decision-making.


Any discussion of leadership attributes appropriate to the culture of the organization also needs to account for the diversity in the workforce, particularly along generational lines. The extensive literature on the influence of generational perspective includes descriptions of the perceptions of desired leadership traits as evidenced by Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, Generation Jones, and Millennials, to name a few (Beck, 2001; Howe & Strauss, 2000; Lancaster & Stillman, 2002; Martin, 2006; Ulrich & Harris, 2003; Wellner, 2000; Young, Hernon, & Powell, 2006). Researchers emphasize the need for a creative and constructively engaged workforce, and an environment that accommodates the needs and wants of each generation, and acknowledges that the workplace will progress only when an intergenerational dialogue is encouraged, nurtured, and becomes a seamless part of the operating environment.


Organizational Culture and Planning


Identifying an organization’s culture plays an important role in implementing a successful planning process. McClure (1978) claims that revealing the current dominant values and beliefs of an organization is a critical foundational step in developing a planning process. Planning to plan is where organizational culture plays its most vital role and where cultural norms will either facilitate or impede further planning decisions. Planning based on shared outcomes, vision, and mission, and a discussion of past success and future milestones, is a key component of any effort to change a library’s culture (Russell, 2008). Identifying organizational culture norms and aspirations is helpful in determining the most advantageous planning processes for a particular organization.


Exploring organizational culture can also be instrumental in determining an organization’s readiness for change. For Schein (2004) it is a question of whether the organization is “unfrozen” and ready for change or suffering from inertia and unwillingness to consider change (p. 325). Strategic planning, when grounded in organizational culture awareness, provides guidance in how to balance potentially quick wins with those areas that may take more patience and effort to come to fruition. In all planning activities and processes, engagement and readiness are perhaps the most critical factors in the ultimate success of the plan. The best-constructed planning processes, with the most creative or tested methods, may not come to a successful and workable plan if an organization’s culture is not fully and actively considered.


Bolman and Deal (2008) observe that organizational structures and processes such as planning, evaluation, and decision-making are often more important for what they express than for what they accomplish. An organization’s culture is revealed and communicated through its symbols, myths, vision, and values. At Harvard University, for example, professors are bound less by structural constraints than by rituals of teaching, values of scholarship, and the myths and mystique of Harvard. Leaders who understand the significance of symbols can shape more cohesive and effective organizations so long as the cultural patterns are aligned with the challenges of the marketplace.


There is a substantial body of research that also offers longitudinal evidence linking culture to organizational effectiveness and success (Baker, Riesing, Johnson, Stewart, & Day Baker, 1997; Cameron, 1986; Collins, 2001; Collins & Porras, 1994; Kotter & Heskett, 1992; Linn, 2008; Lysons, Hatherly, & Mitchell, 1988; Quinn & Cameron, 1983; Quinn & Rohrbaugh, 1983).


Assessing Organizational Culture


We have discussed elsewhere (Shepstone & Currie, 2006) the value of assessing culture as a necessary first step when undertaking organizational change, renewal, and improvement. Change involves changes to fundamental perceptions, beliefs, patterns of behaviour, and norms and ways of sense-making that have developed over long periods of time. Plans for change must be carefully integrated into existing culture, recognizing the potential points of resistance and finding opportunities to build on existing strengths.


The research on organizational culture and change and the research frameworks and methodologies that have been developed, in particular the extensive application of Cameron and Quinn’s (1999, 2006) Competing Values Framework (CVF) to assess culture, has been well documented (Giek & Lees, 1993; Gregory, 2008; Lamond, 2009; Paulin, Ferguson, & Payaud, 2000; Sendelbach,1993; Stevens, 1996; Thompson, 1993). Much of the literature that analyzes library culture draws on the CVF to investigate the question of culture and subcultures (Faerman, 1993; Kaarst-Brown, 2004; Lakos & Phipps, 2004; Maloney et al., 2010; Salanki, 2010; Shepstone & Currie, 2008; Varner, 1996).




Our review of the literature revealed three areas that we wanted to address in framing our research:

·         There were no studies of organizational culture in Canadian academic libraries. We wanted to produce a study that could generate some interest in comparative research on academic library culture in Canada.

·         As Bergquist and Pawlak (2008) observe, cultural analyses yield important insights into the life and dynamics of an organization but they often provide little guidance to the organizational leader for engaging those cultures. It was our intention to provide such guidance to the senior leadership by identifying specific strategies appropriate to the cultures of the libraries under investigation.

·         There is a need for applied research that leads to practical actions. Lowry (2011) is critical of the CVF model, claiming it “leads to assessments that find all four archetypes at work in a library and, thus, lead to generalizations without much precision that may not lead to effective action” (p. 3). In undertaking this research we were primarily interested in producing an action plan or set of strategies for developing leadership and planning processes that would be effective in the desired culture.


The new case studies therefore set out to explore three questions:

1.       What is the current as opposed to the preferred culture of each library?

2.       What strategies are appropriate for initiating planning and developing leadership in the preferred culture of each library?

3.       What comparisons of the current and preferred cultures can be drawn from the three libraries?




We defined organizational culture as a collective understanding, a shared and integrated set of perceptions, memories, values, attitudes, and definitions that have been learned over time and which determine expectations (implicit and explicit) of behaviour that are taught to new members in their socialization into the organization (Shepstone & Currie, 2008).


The case study method was used to undertake this site-specific exploration of organizational culture. By delineating and describing key dimensions of culture via case study, a more intense analysis and specific understanding of organizational culture are possible (Tierney, 2008). The case study method is useful as an exploratory technique when applied to investigations of organizational performance, structure, and functions (Hernon & Schwartz, 2008). We chose Mount Royal University and Carleton University libraries because two of the three researchers worked at those institutions and could provide local oversight of the study.


Applying the Competing Values Framework


Cameron and Quinn’s Competing Values Framework (CVF) provided a theoretical framework for understanding organizational culture. It offered a process for identifying what needs to change in an organization’s culture and for developing a strategy to initiate a culture change process.

The CVF also employs a reliable and validated instrument, the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), for diagnosing culture. Cameron and Quinn (2006) collected cultural profiles using the OCAI from more than 3,000 organizations to develop “typical” dominant culture types for organizations from a number of sectors. The instrument has been used in numerous organizational studies that have all tested the reliability and validity of both the instrument and the approach (Kalliath, Bluedorn, & Gillespie, 1999; Peterson, Cameron, Spencer, & White, 1991; Quinn & Spreitzer, 1991; Yeung, Brockbank, & Ulrich, 1991; Zammuto & Krakower, 1991). Cameron and Freeman (1991) produced evidence for the validity of the OCAI in their study of organizational culture in 334 institutions of higher education. Zammuto and Krakower (1991) used this instrument to investigate the culture of higher education institutions. Using the CVF offered an opportunity to compare the library findings to these “average” dominant cultures in other higher education organizations, thus providing benchmark data.


As we noted elsewhere (Shepstone & Currie, 2006) the methodology is appealing in its simplicity both in application and interpretation. The OCAI is easy for participants to complete and straightforward for researchers to score and analyze. The ability to graphically represent or plot the scores helps to describe and communicate the findings in a meaningful way and stimulates a high level of interest and engagement in the organizational assessment (Varner, 1996). A description of the CVF used in this study is provided in the Appendix.


The OCAI was administered by questionnaire to all staff of each library inviting their participation in the study. Part One of the questionnaire gathered participant data for each institution. Part Two, the current organizational culture assessment, required responses to six questions on the OCAI to reflect perceptions of the current state of the library. The questions contained four descriptions of academic libraries and respondents were to distribute 100 points among the four descriptions depending on how similar the descriptions were to their library. Part Three required responses to the same six questions scored according to how the library should be in five years in order to be highly successful, thus identifying the preferred organizational culture.


In gathering participant data we were interested in identifying possible subcultures among different groupings of staff, such as by functional area, level of administrative responsibility, years of service, age range, and generational “group.” An assurance of anonymity for all respondents was issued. The questionnaire was distributed giving participants two weeks to respond. Two subsequent follow-up notices were distributed a week apart in an effort to increase the number of participants.


We hired a graduate student to score the responses and plot the culture profiles for the U of S study, using the instructions provided by Cameron and Quinn (2006). This work was completed by the two researchers administering the study at Mount Royal and Carleton.




In reporting on the results we have included the U of S data from the 2006 study for comparison purposes. Details of the responses received and the response rates for each institution are provided in Table 1.


While librarian responses at the three institutions (67%, 62%, and 73%) were statistically significant, the response rates for the support staff were considered too low to be statistically significant. We therefore limited our analysis of the data to the librarian responses.


We were unable to account for the low response rate for support staff across the three institutions except to note that at the U of S the administration of the questionnaire to support staff followed two other major staff surveys both on campus and within the library, which suggests the low response rate might in part be attributed to survey fatigue.


Table 1
Survey Responses


University of Saskatchewan

Mount Royal College

Carleton University

Surveys distributed








Support Staff








Responses received








Support Staff








Response Rate








Support Staff










In order to identify possible subcultures among different groupings of staff, we collected participant data on functional unit, level of administrative responsibility, public versus technical services affiliation, years of service, etc. However, given the small subpopulation sizes involved and a requirement by the research ethics review boards at each institution to guarantee anonymity of respondents, we were not able to report these results. This is one of the unfortunate limitations of case study research involving small populations.


Using the librarians’ scores on the OCAI, the current and preferred organizational culture profiles for each library were constructed by plotting the average scores for each alternative (Clan, Adhocracy, Market, and Hierarchy) on the diagonal lines in each quadrant. We drew culture profiles for each library to compare the current and preferred cultures across the three libraries. (See Figure 1.)


Figure 1
Library culture profiles – librarians


When interpreting the culture plots, an analysis of scoring should be sensitive to differences of 10 points or more, according to Cameron and Quinn (2006). The plots revealed three academic libraries with distinctly different current cultures as perceived by the librarians in each, and three similar preferred culture profiles.


Current Cultures


At the U of S Library, librarians scored the library highest in the Market culture, indicating a focus on productivity, external positioning, competitive actions, market leadership, achievement of measurable goals and targets, and a prevailing concern with stability and control.


At Carleton University Library, the library scored highest in the Hierarchy culture, indicating a formalized and structured workplace where rules and policies hold the organization together, procedures govern what people do, leaders are coordinators and organizers, and maintenance of a smooth-running organization, stability, predictability, and efficiency prevail.


Mount Royal College Library scored highest in the Clan culture, characterized by a focus on people and relationships, a sense of cohesion, participation, and belonging, and an organization held together by loyalty and high commitment where long-term goals, teamwork, consensus, and individual development are valued and emphasized.


Preferred Cultures


A comparison of the preferred culture profiles for the three libraries revealed a common desire for a transition to an Adhocracy culture (Mount Royal by 10 points, U of S by 27 points, and Carleton by 15 points). There was also a preference for stronger elements of a Clan culture at Carleton University (by 10 points) and the U of S (by 11 points).


The U of S Librarians preferred a culture with a reduced Market orientation and increased Adhocracy elements such as innovation and autonomy, along with increased Clan characteristics such as a focus on the individual and a more personalized workplace. For Mount Royal Library the preference was for a significant increase in innovation and autonomy of an Adhocracy culture with maintenance of the existing Clan elements. Carleton University librarians demonstrated a preference for increasing both Adhocracy and Clan elements and significantly decreasing the prevailing Hierarchy culture.




Organizational Culture in the Higher Education Sector


Movement toward a preferred organizational culture must consider the larger cultural and political context in order to have success. It is instructive to consider the organizational culture characteristics of the university within which the library operates. Cameron and Quinn have mapped composite or common cultural characteristics based on organizational type or sector. Academic libraries, as integral parts of much larger organizations, are influenced by and reflective of the cultural characteristics of their parent institution.


Research that has explored organizational culture within academic settings (Baker et al., 1997; Lysons, Hatherty, & Mitchell, 1998; Pors, 2008) has derived a common cultural profile of academic institutions. Post-secondary educational organizations typically exhibit organizational cultures that are strong in Adhocracy with an emphasis on Hierarchy characteristics (Cameron & Quinn, 2006). These competing values are a logical finding as post-secondary institutions have extremely entrenched structures of hierarchy and rank while engaged in the business of creating new knowledge and ideas through research and teaching. The pursuit of simultaneous contradiction has been found to be highly successful in colleges and universities in coping with conditions of uncertainty, complexity, and turbulence.


A desire for a stronger Adhocracy culture aligns with learning organizations. All three of the libraries in this study, however, spoke to a desire to enhance or maintain significantly high Clan cultural characteristics. This finding raises questions about the ability to achieve this within a library in a parent institution where Clan qualities might not be as valued or visible. More precisely, to what degree are these three libraries congruent with their own parent-institutions’ cultural characteristics? Although this question was not explored in this study, it may influence how the library participates in and supports the mission of the institution, as well as how successfully the library adapts, interacts, and works with other campus units, or how it supports and engages with the students, faculty, and staff.


Organizational Effectiveness


Organizations tend to develop a dominant organizational culture over time as they adapt and respond to challenges and changes in the environment. Paradoxically, organizational culture creates both stability, by reinforcing continuity and consistency through adherence to a set of consensual values, as well as adaptability, by providing a set of principles to follow when designing strategies to cope with new circumstances (Cameron & Quinn, 2006).


Cameron and Quinn’s research emphasizes the need for organizational flexibility and adaptability in order to draw on all four cultural quadrant skills and values, and argues that it is in the tension and balance of competing values that organizations are best able to maintain effectiveness and organizational health. While there may be dominant cultural characteristics more appropriate to an individual organization or particular type of institution, it is important for organizations to be able to draw on the full range of resources and competing characteristics, depending on the situation and need.


Organizational effectiveness is inherently paradoxical. To be effective, an organization must possess attributes that are simultaneously contradictory, even mutually exclusive (Cameron, 1986). It follows then that those in leadership positions must be able to draw upon skills and strategies from a similar range of competing perspectives. Understanding when to shift foci from internal to external, from process-based to creative, are important competencies and abilities for leaders to exercise.




Our research was undertaken to identify the current and preferred organizational cultures of three Canadian academic libraries, and to suggest strategies appropriate for initiating planning and developing leadership skills and attributes aligned with the preferred culture of each library.


Understanding the existing culture, and identifying the type of culture preferred by library staff, is a first step in achieving a culture change. By focusing on the area of incongruence between the current and preferred cultures, the changes that are desired can be identified. The evidence gathered about existing and preferred cultural traits can be used to guide strategy development, priority setting and planning, and the development of key leadership abilities and skills for libraries.


Developing Institution-Specific and Culturally Responsive Strategies.


It is important to identify the behaviours and competencies that are needed to reflect the new culture. For the U of S study we mapped the leadership roles and managerial competencies to the quadrants of the CVF to illustrate the behaviours leaders and managers at all levels should adopt and where to focus their skill development (Shepstone & Currie, 2008). Given the similar cultural findings at Carleton and Mount Royal libraries we believe this list of competencies and attributes would be relevant in these libraries.


For the U of S library we developed an action plan with strategies that address innovation, continuous improvement, teamwork, interpersonal relationships, and staff development – all characteristics of the Adhocracy and Clan cultures desired by the U of S librarians. In order to develop the desired cultural characteristics of Adhocracy and Clan cultures at the Mount Royal and Carleton libraries, we propose the following key strategies to help this culture change process unfold (Table 2).


Table 2
Key Strategies for Building Clan and Adhocracy Cultures a

Building Clan – “collaborate”

Building Adhocracy – “create”

Focus on teams, relationship building, and staff development:



·         Build cross-functional teamwork opportunities

·         Develop programs to increase teambuilding skill

·         Emphasize inter-unit mobility and cross-functional communication

Relationship Building:

·         Improve relations between front-line and support operations

·         Build inter-unit staff relationships and develop expectations for working together

·         Improve communication and reduce “silos” between faculty/staff and unit/area staff

·         Identify items needing coordination and collaboration between units

Staff Development:

·         Expand staff involvement in planning, decision making & problem solving

·         Establish operational and strategic planning groups & opportunities – communicate to leaders how strategic pressures are impacting the library and how this might impact their roles

·         Empower front-line staff and supervisors to make key decisions and react quickly to emerging needs

·         Provide an employee recognition system that recognizes contributions and commitment

Focus on the future, innovation, and continuous improvement:



·         Revisit organizational values and vision to encourage a focus on the future

·         Appoint champions/leads responsible for monitoring /tracking major issues and identifying most advantageous areas for growth and development

·         Focus on forecasting/anticipating and exceeding client needs and new expectations

·         Plan for long and short term and ensure the process stretches current assumptions


·         Ensure vision statement inspires creative initiative

·         Develop ways to encourage, measure, and reward innovative behaviour of individuals and teams

·         Recognize those activities that help ideas get developed and adopted

·         Provide opportunities for staff to share new and experimental ideas. Celebrate trial-and-error learning and take opportunities to learn from failure

Continuous Improvement:

·         Encourage discussion on creating and implementing change, and implement process improvement

·         Move to flexible structures that emphasize adaptability, agility, and creativity

·         Focus on the library as a learning organization and make changes to increase the capacity to learn more effectively

·         Task front-line staff with conceptualizing new strategies for expanding/improving services

a Based on: Cameron, K., and Quinn, R. (2006). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture Based on the Competing Values Framework. Rev. ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.



The evidence gathered from our research has confirmed and informed strategic planning and implementation at Mount Royal and provided a visual representation and reminder for what is needed to successfully move closer to an Adhocracy culture while maintaining and fostering the existing Clan elements in the face of rapid growth, diversification, and transformation as the institution undergoes the transition from college to university status.


This has translated into placing a greater emphasis on and support for individually focused professional and skill development and for an expansion of continuous learning and leadership opportunities. Faculty are expanding their academic autonomy through newly formalized programs of scholarship, and expanding opportunities for teaching and for participation in shared, acting, or rotating leadership roles. Project-based opportunities have been encouraged and new committee chairing opportunities have been developed. For support staff the emphasis has been on increasing staff engagement in planning and creating new ways to ensure meaningful participation at the library and unit levels. Support staff have been encouraged to accept roles on task forces and projects, chair committees, and use opportunities for job enrichment and project work to increase skills, flexibility, experience, and job satisfaction.


At Carleton University the results of the study have contributed to discussions on strategic planning and organizational restructuring. Increasing the Clan culture required expanding staff participation in planning, reviewing the most significant gaps between the preferred culture and existing leadership styles, and ensuring transparency in decision-making and use of feedback. This has involved articulating what is currently done well, focusing on interrelationships and building collaboration between departments, and adopting more responsive and user-focused approaches. Supporting research and innovation to build the desired Adhocracy culture has required moving from a focus on boundaries and delineation of responsibilities to an articulation of big-picture goals, clarification of leadership roles, and a re-examination of resource allocation within the library.


We undertook this research to generate a sampling of comparative data on organizational culture in Canadian academic libraries. Our findings, based on the perceptions of librarians, revealed different current cultural characteristics but similar preferred cultural characteristics for three academic libraries in Canada. Differences in institutional size, mandate, and age did not seem to impact librarians’ cultural preferences among these three libraries.


Further research to analyze current and preferred cultures in other Canadian academic libraries would be interesting to determine if the preference for a shift to organizational cultures with a dominant Adhocracy culture supported by strong Clan elements found in these three libraries, applies more broadly and could be considered a national or sector-based trend.




The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Pat Moore for her questionnaire administration and data analysis at Carleton University Library.




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The Competing Values Framework (CVF)


The CVF distinguishes between two major intersecting dimensions in organizations. The horizontal dimension reflects the extent to which an organization has a control orientation – the degree of emphasis on flexibility, discretion, and dynamism as opposed to stability, order, and control. The vertical dimension reflects the extent to which the organization is focused on its internal or external functioning – the degree of internal orientation, integration, and unity as opposed to an external orientation, differentiation, and rivalry. These two dimensions form four quadrants that represent distinct organizational perspectives. Each quadrant is identified as a cultural type representing opposite or competing assumptions, orientations, and values. Thus four dominant culture types emerge from the framework. This is represented in Figure 2.


Figure 2
Competing Values Framework

Based on: Cameron, K., and Quinn, R. (2006). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture Based on the Competing Values Framework. Rev. ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


The Clan culture is typified by a friendly place to work where people share a lot of themselves, leaders serve as mentors, the organization is held together by loyalty and tradition, commitment is high, the emphasis is on the long-term benefit of individual development, high cohesion and morale, and a premium is placed on teamwork, participation, and consensus.


The Adhocracy culture is characterized by a dynamic, entrepreneurial, and creative workplace where people take risks, leaders are visionary and innovative, the commitment to experimentation and innovation holds the organization together, readiness for change and meeting new challenges is important, and the emphasis is on being at the leading edge of new knowledge, services, and products.


A Market culture is a results-oriented workplace where leaders drive the organization toward productivity, results, and profits, an emphasis on winning holds the organization together, and the prevailing concern is on competitive actions and achieving goals, targets, and increasing its competitive position.


The Hierarchy culture is a formalized and structured place to work where formal rules and policies bind the organization, procedures govern what people do, effective leaders are good coordinators and organizers, maintenance of a smooth-running organization is all important, and the long-term concerns are stability, predictability, and efficiency.


The Survey Instrument


The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) is a data-gathering instrument based on six content dimensions which reflect the fundamental cultural values and implicit assumptions about the way an organization functions:

·         the dominant characteristics of the organization

·         leadership style

·         management of employees

·         organizational glue or bonding mechanisms

·         strategic emphases

·         criteria of success


The OCAI poses a series of statements that reflect the key elements in describing organizational culture. When organizational members respond to questions about these dimensions, the values underlying organizational culture can be uncovered. Figure 3 provides a sample of the OCAI as used in the study.


Figure 3
Sample of OCAI

From Cameron and Quinn (2006), Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework. Rev .Ed. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.