Startup Culture: A case study of organisational culture in a startup

Nichlas Kvist Jørgensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis projects aims to investigate whether classical organisational culture theories can be applied to a startup. It does this by investigating the organisational culture of a high growth startup. The reason for choosing to investigate a startup is based the current focus in the economy on innovation and new technologies and where entrepreneurs plays an important role. The reason for choosing to investigate startups and culture is based on real life findings by the author that turned the question of startup culture into an academic paper. The case that has been chosen to have classical organisational culture theories applied is the startup company ChurchDesk. They sell church management software and have had steady growth for a couple of years and has turned into a fairly large startup after they raised venture capital funding. The theoretical framework is built upon two different paradigms such as functionalism and symbolism. The reason for choosing two different is that they cover the main findings in the analysis and provide another perspective to each other. In this paper, the analysis will show that the organisational culture of ChurchDesk is effected by the artifacts that empower the feeling of working in a startup. The values at ChurchDesk are focused on providing an agile work environment with no procedures and a high individual responsibility leads to ensuring high quality of work. The basic underlying assumption at ChurchDesk are a snapshot of the current situation but might be potential assumptions in the future. The employees at ChurchDesk are afraid to end up working in a corporate culture but at the same time it is also the direction they believe that they are heading because of the growth that they have. The analysis does also show that the theory of classical organisational culture theories can be applied to startup organisation but there will need to be adjustments for conducting more investigations. One of the main findings is that it is difficult to analyse the basic underlying assumptions in a reliable way as it can be questioned whether it is only an instant picture of the organisation.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages101