Turning Around Clinicas Dentales Sonrie: A Case Study Into the Influence of Organizational Culture on Organizational Learning and Strategic Renewal

Susanne Wille Jørgensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The concepts of organizational culture and learning have been the focus of many scholars; and in recent years, practitioners have shown an increased interest in the concepts. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how cultural contexts affect organizational learning, which is considered a key component of the long-term success of a company in increasingly globalized and competitive markets. In addition to the large focus on organizational culture and learning, both within the business and academic world, it is found that the majority of studies within the fields focus on ‘Western’ or Asian societies and cultures. Due to the increased interest in Latin American markets, the author of this thesis found it relevant to conduct the study based on a case company located in Guatemala, which is one of the top10 largest Latin American economies. The hypothesis of this thesis is that both the external and the internal contexts of an organization influence the implementation process and success of organizational changes. On this background, it was found interesting and highly relevant to examine how different cultural assumptions affect the organizational learning. Thus, a single case study was conducted during a three-month period in a dental company (Sonrie) in Guatemala. The methodological choice for the thesis is a qualitative mono-method, based on a single case study approach, which included elements of ethnography. The empirical data collection consists of observations; generated field notes, interviews and documents obtained from the case company. In order to examine the concept of culture, mainly the theories of the two researchers Schein and Hofstede are used. The thesis shows that organizational cultures affect the organizational learning in Sonrie and make it ‘fragile’. Furthermore, the data indicates that the macrocultural elements influence both the individual members as well as the organizational structure. In turn, the organizational culture and subcultures affects the processes of intuiting, interpreting, integrating and institutionalizing in relation to the different basic assumptions within different groups. In Sonrie, the different understandings of what things mean cause misunderstandings and inhibited the organizational learning. Another important finding was the exploitation of existing organizational knowledge while generating new knowledge. This shows that organizational learning should be a continuous cycle in order to achieve strategic renewal and gain competitive advantages. However, if the tension between exploration and exploitation of new and existing knowledge is ignored or impeded by resistance to change, the organizational learning will discontinue. Susanne Wille Jørgensen Chapter Abstract Copenhagen Business School Master Thesis 3 The results have practical implications as they provide insights into how organizational culture can enable or inhibit organizational learning. The overall findings pertaining to how culture affects organizational learning can be generalized and applied to future studies. However, it is unlikely to transfer the specific elements pertaining to the different cultures that influence Sonrie to other companies due to the subjective and contextual nature of culture. Keywords: Culture, Basic Assumptions, Organizational Culture, Subculture, Macroculture, Organizational Learning, Strategic Renewal, Organizational Change, Intuiting, Interpreting, Integrating, Institutionalizing.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages81