An Analysis of eBay's Culture

Term Paper, 2003

15 Pages, Grade: 1,3




1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Background of Culture
2.1. An Approach to Organizational Culture
2.2. Attributes of Culture: Internal Integration
2.3. Attributes of Culture: External Integration
2.4. Influence of Culture on Employees
2.5. Influence of Culture on Organizations

3. The Culture of the eBay Company and its Community
3.1. The Influence of the founder
3.2. The Rise of the Company and its Culture
3.3. Finding the Right CEO
3.4. The Culture and Community
3.5. The Concordance of Fundamentals

4. Conclusion


Abstract :

What is organizational culture all about? This intangible combination of values, beliefs, practices can make the difference between surviving and thriving, succeeding and failing.

A top firm typically has a strong culture with values and norms appropriate to the organizational purpose. In a big organization, sub-cultures also exist, division to division, office to office.

This assignment will analyse Schein’s contention that culture is “a pattern of basic assumptions” by defining first (organizational) culture in general and second the culture of one of the most famous internet companys in the world.

1. Introduction

Many articles and books have been written in recent years about culture in organizations, usually referred to as "Corporate Culture." The dictionary defines culture as "the act of developing intellectual and moral faculties, especially through education." This writing will use a slightly different definition of culture: "the moral, social, and behavioral norms of an organization based on the beliefs, attitudes, and priorities of its members."

The terms "advanced culture" or "primitive culture" could apply to the first definition, but not the latter. Every organization has its own unique culture or value set. The culture of the organization is typically created unconsciously, based on the values of the top management or the founders of an organization.

2. Theoretical Background of Culture

2.1. An approach to Organizational Culture

Organizational culture has been defined as “a pattern of basic aasumptions,” “values,”[1] or “beliefs” and “norms of behavior”[2]. Following O’Reilly[3] we define organizational culture as values shared by members of an organizational unit. These basic values may be thought of as internalized normative beliefs that can guide behavior inside an organization.[4] If (organizational) culture is developed as an organization learns to cope with the dual problems of external adaptation and internal integration[5], then values that enhance the organization’s capability in these two functions should be useful for it.

To the extent that members of an organization share the same sets of values, thought processes, and languages , they will have similar mind-sets and behaviors as they integrate their efforts inside the organization and adapt to environmental changes.

Research has documented a variety of outcomes that are related to organizational culture. For example, organizational culture has been found to relate to firm growth[6] and firm performance[7] /[8] /[9]. Other studies have shown that its effect can be observed directly at the individual level, in outcomes such as commitment[10], resource allocation decisions[11], retention[12], and perceived attractiveness of a firm[13].

Given the dramatic changes in both the external environment and the internal structure of worldwide firms, firms that emphasize cultural values that relate to external adaptation and internal integration should be more effective than those that do not.

Organizational researchers have developed typologies of organizational culture values to describe successful firms. O’Reilly developed the Organizational Culture Profile (OCP) using the Q-sort method of 54 value statements identified through an executive literature review. They identified seven dimensions of organizational culture, including innovation, outcome orientation, respect for people, team orientation, stability, aggressiveness and attention to details. Denison and Mishra (1995) proposed a four-category typology of organizational culture based on two factors:

(1) the extent to which the competetive environment requires flexibility or stability and

(2) the extent to which the strategic focus and the strenght is internal or external. Using these two factors, Denison and Mishra identified these dimensions correspond to O’Reilly and colleagues’ (1991) innovation, outcome orientation, supportiveness and team orientation.

In Hofstedes extended study of organizational culture[14] he reported six dimensions of organizational cultures:

(1) process orientated versus results oriented
(2) employee orientated versus job oriented
(3) parochial versus professional
(4) open system versus closed system
(5) loose control versus tight control
(6) normative versus pragmatic

The six dimensions proposed by Hofstede are not prescriptive: no position on one of the six dimensions is intrinsically good or bad. Each position relates to an organization’s strategic choice.

2.2. Attributes of Culture: Internal Integration

Internal integration in my opinion is beliefs or values that influence the behaviors, decisions or attitudes of individuals and groups inside firms, or policies affecting employees (relative to customers or outsiders).

Out of that I would reveal employee contribution, employee development, harmony, leadership, pragmatism and reward.

Employee contributions refers to cultural values that motivate employees to identify with organizations and make contributions to their success. This involves keywords as “initiative and hardworking,” “dedication,” “ loyality to organization” and “ professional moral standards.”


[1] Peters & Waterman (1982), In search of excellence.

[2] Pettigrew (1979), On studying organizational culture.

[3] O’Reilly (1991), People and organizational culture.

[4] O’Reilly (1991), People and organizational culture.

[5] Schein (1990), Organizational culture.

[6] Calori & Sarnin (1991), corporate culture and economic performance: A French study.

[7] Denison (1990), Corporate culture and organizational effectiveness.

[8] Denison & Mishra (1995), Toward a theory of organizational culture and effectiveness.

[9] Kotter & Heskett (1992), Corporate culture and performance.

[10] e.g. O’Reilly (1991), People and organizational culture.

[11] Mannix, Neale & Nothcraft (1995), Equity, equality, or need? The effects of organizational culture on the allocation of benefits and burdens.

[12] e.g. Sheridan (1992), Organizational culture and employee retention.

[13] e.g. Judge & Cable (1997), Applicant personality, organizational culture, and organizational attractiveness.

[14] Hofstede (1991), Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind.

Excerpt out of 15 pages


An Analysis of eBay's Culture
University of Lincoln  (International BA)
Corporate Culture
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
429 KB
Analysis, Culture, Corporate, Culture
Quote paper
Boris Sosnizkij (Author), 2003, An Analysis of eBay's Culture, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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