Passion in corporate cultures?! The role of passion in the organisational culture of a Dutch and a German business

A qualitative analysis

Master's Thesis, 2006

148 Pages, Grade: 9



Listof Figures

List of Tables

1. Introduction
1.1 Background and relevance of the study
1.2 Central research themes
1.3 Central research questions
1.4 Central research aims
1.5 Contribution of the study
1.6 Further structure and content of the study

2. Passion in corporate cultures?! - Answers from literature
2.1 Investigating the concept of passion
2.1.1 In search for the elements of passion
2.1.2 Alternative ways to look at passion
2.1.3 The concept of passion - Implications of the findings for this research
2.2 Examining the concept of (passionate) corporate cultures
2.2.1 The four energy zones model (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003)
2.2.2 The Gods of management classification (Handy, 1995)
2.2.3 Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li - Part II (Weymes, 2005)
2.2.4 The concept of (passionate) corporate cultures - Implications of the findings for this study
2.3 A new way of combining the concepts of passion and corporate culture
2.3.1 The first dimension-Body
2.3.2 The second dimension - Mind
2.3.3 The third dimension - Soul
2.3.4 The fourth dimension - Spirit
2.3.5 A model of the four-dimensionality of passionate corporate cultures
2.3.6 The 4D model of passionate corporate cultures - Implications of the findings for this research
2.4 Summary of the literature review

3. Research Design
3.1 Phenomenology
3.2 The cases
3.2.1 Selection criteria
3.2.2 Description of the organisations
3.3 The methods
3.3.1 Preparatory booklets
3.3.2 Semi-structured interviews
3.3.3 Observations
3.4 The data collection
3.4.1 The data collection process at K&S
3.4.2 The data collection process at Hotel Bristol
3.5 The data analysis
3.5.1 Phase 1: Reducing the data and making them anonymous
3.5.2 Phase 2: Arranging and assembling the data
3.5.3 Phase 3: Establishing and identifying key themes and patterns
3.6 Limitations during the research process
3.7 Summary of the research design

4. Results
4.1 Interview and observation results
4.1.1 Main findings at Kessels & Smit
4.1.2 Interim summary of the main findings at Kessels &Smit
4.1.3 Main findings at Hotel Bristol
4.1.4 Interim summary of the results at Hotel Bristol
4.2 Further findings regarding the concept of passion and corporate cultures
4.2.1 The elements of the concept of passion
4.2.2 The elements of corporate cultures and the links to passion
4.3 Summary of the results chapter

5. Discussion & Conclusion
5.1 Discussion of the conclusions from the analysis process
5.1.1 Answers to the question: ‘What is the concept of passion?’
5.1.2 Recommendations regarding the concept of passion
5.1.3 Answers to the question: ‘To what does the concept of passion relate in corporate cultures?’
5.1.4 Recommendations regarding the concept of corporate passion
5.1.5 Answers to the question: ‘What factors nurture/ inhibit passion in corporate cultures?’
5.1.6 Recommendations regarding support factors and inhibitors of passion
5.2 Critical review of the research process and learning experiences
5.3 Overall summary and conclusions

Appendix A - Ethical statement (English version)
Appendix B - Ethical statement (German version)
Appendix C - Preparatory booklet (English version)
Appendix D - Preparatory booklet (German version)
Appendix E - Exemplary summary of an interview at Kessels &Smit
Appendix F - Exemplary summary of an interview at Hotel Bristol
Appendix G - Data categorisation chart (Kessels & Smit)
Appendix H - Data categorisation chart (Hotel Bristol)
Appendix I - Pictures from the preparatory booklets (Kessels & Smit)
Appendix J - Pictures from the preparatory booklets (Hotel Bristol)
Appendix K- The Johari-window (Luft & Ingham, 1955)
Appendix L - Kolb’s Learning Cycle (Kolb, 1974)
Appendix M - Logical levels of Dilts (1990)

List of Figures

Figure 2.1: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (adapted from Maslow, 1943,1954)

Figure 2.2: Four energy zones model (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003, p. 47)

Figure 2.3: The four-dimensionality of passionate corporate cultures

Figure 4.1: Model of the corporate culture of K&S

Figure 4.2: Model of the corporate culture of Hotel Bristol

Figure 4.3: Model of the passion process

Figure 4.4: Model of the concept of passion

Figure 4.5: The corporate passion process

Figure 4.6: Model of the concept of corporate passion

List of Tables

Table 2.1: Summary of the main elements of passion in theories by Chang (2000) and Chaudhuri (2001)..

Table 3.1: Overview of the demographics of the participants at K&S

Table 3.2: Overview of the demographics of the participants at Hotel Bristol

Table 3.3: Overview of the observed situations during the data collection period at K&S

Table 3.4: Overview of the observed situations during the data collection period at Hotel Bristol

Table 4.1: Overview of people’s passions at K&S

Table 4.2: Factors that support K&Sers’ passions

Table 4.3: Factors that inhibit K&Sers’ passions

Table 4.4: Overview of people’s passions at Hotel Bristol

Table 4.5: Factors that support Hotel Bristol-participants’ passions

Table 4.6: Factors that inhibit Hotel Bristol-participants’ passions

Executive summary

Even though, the concept of passion is not particularly well researched, it yet has become a hot topic in the academic world in recent years. For, passion offers insight into how people relate to various aspects of their work. The present study therefore aimed to gain a more research-based understanding of the underpinning elements of the concept of passion. By connecting it with theory on corporate cultures it could furthermore be investigated how the concept translates in organisational settings as well as which factors actively contribute to its existence and which may hinder it.

The analysis of the literature confirmed that the concept of passion is only very badly explored. In addition, it was found that also its relation to corporate cultures has been determined only insufficiently. Hence, a new frame­work was developed, which was based on the notion that human beings are four-dimensional and argued that also corporate cultures could be seen as four-dimensional.

To test and explore the questions and findings raised in the literature review, a case study research design was chosen, which employed multiple, exploratory research methods such as a so-called preparatory booklet, interviewing, and observations. Overall, two organisations agreed participate in the study: the Dutch HRD Consul­tancy firm Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company and the German four-star superior hotel Gunnewig Hotel Bris­tol Bonn. Taken together, in total 25 interviews were carried out and 21 situations were observed over a course of eleven weeks.

It was found that passion does not only have a spiritual origin but also that it is commonly triggered through an external event or person. Moreover, it has three distinguishable phases (1. recognition, 2. maintenance and 3. development) that generate both positive and negative effects and are influenced by various internal (e.g. self­confidence) and external (e.g. family members; organisational processes) factors. Furthermore, a new type of passion was found that was referred to as ‘corporate passion’. This underlies similar principles as the individual- based concept but is determined different influences and thus creates different effects. Finally, various factors were established that either supported or inhibited peoples’ passion. These were among others: co-workers, autonomy, appreciation, and individual/organisational development.

The findings indicate that passion is a greatly underestimated concept that does not only generate effects on a personal level but also in organisations as well as beyond (e.g. at clients, with guests). Therefore, it should no longer be asked whether passion is an incorporated element in corporate cultures but how it can be translated into daily practice.


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

Everything else is secondary.”

I would like to thank everyone who has had the courage to join me on myjourney to passion. That is first and foremost my three supervisors: Marloes van Rooij (Kessels & Smit), Dr Nienke Nieveen (University of Twente)

and Suzanne Verdonschot (Kessels & Smit).

Marloes, I thank you for your continuous professional and personal guidance. Your enduring faith and your encouragement have meant a lot to me. Also, thank you for reminding me how much I love stories! Your passion is my passion! Nienke, I thank you for giving me the space to explore this topic and my thoughts in my own way. This has truly helped me to give the present piece my unique and special touch. Suzanne, I thank you for bringing me in contact with Kessels & Smit and for your continuous professional input throughout myjourney. Your practi­cal suggestions and your passion for learning made my research not only easier but also a lot more enjoyable.

Secondly, I would like to thank my participants at Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company and at Gunnewig Hotel Bristol Bonn. You are true heroes as you had the bravery to travel this journey with me. Without you this

document would not exist, so I am more than grateful for your fantastic and valuable input. My work is your work!

Furthermore, I would like to thank my parents. I greatly appreciate your amazing support in my data analysis phase. Your questions and comments helped me in structuring my thinking and producing a model of passion I am proud of. I love you!

Finally, my special thanks go to Mr Wolf Westphal from Hotel Bristol, all colleagues at Kessels & Smit and my fellow students Miranda Damhuis and Ioana Hartescu. - Mr Westphal, thank you for allowing me to conduct my research in your organisation. Everyone at K&S, a heartfelt ‘dankjullie’ for sharing their ideas, knowledge and emotions with me. Lastly, Miranda and Ioana, I thank you for being my sparing partners not only as part of this master thesis but throughout my studies at University of Twente.

Romy Steinhauser Meckenheim, August 2006

1. Introduction

This chapter aims to give an in-depth introduction into the topic and set-up of this research. For this, firstly background information about the research topic as well as its relevance will be provided. Secondly, the central research themes and questions will be outlined. Thirdly, the research aims will be presented and finally, an over­view of the structure of this master thesis will be given.

If Background and relevance of the study

Passion in corporate cultures?! -While this may sound strange, awkward, or simply impossible in some peo­ples’ ears, it might be the daily reality or at least something to aspire to for others. In fact, there is a fair amount of organisations where the word passion can be used at best when describing the love affairs amongst its employ­ees. However, there are also businesses, which openly state in their advertisements or on their homepages: We have a passion! L’Oreal, for instance, has a ‘passion for adventure’, Pret A Manger a ‘passion for food’ and

Deutsche Bank a ‘passion for excellence’.

Interestingly, also many academics and business professionals have shown interest in the idea of passion in the workplace in recent years. Chang (2000) and Chaudhuri (2001), for example, have proposed models to char­ acterise passionate people/ employees. Likewise, Johnston (2002) and Koonce (1998) have argued that passion is a vital factor for successful job hunting. Chaudhuri (2001) and Zaleznik (2004) point out its importance in lead­ership and management and finally, Kessels (2001), Keursten et al. (2005), and Verdonschot (2005) have stressed that passion can be seen as a key principle in knowledge productive organisations. - In short, passion is

a hot topic!

This is of particular relevance for HRD professionals as it is fundamentally their job to contribute to the devel­ opment and learning of their co-workers and their organisation (Desimone et al., 2002). That is, they are required to be system thinkers, designers as well as conductors of measurements and analyses. They are expected to be ‘pin-pointers’ who link theory and practice, productivity and organisational performance and they are needed to be researchers and developers (Harrison & Kessels, 2004; Preskill & Russ-Eft, 2003; Short et al., 2003). In short, they are seemingly not only “learning architects” (University Forum, 1998) but also “holistic organisational devel­opers” (Damhuis & Steinhauser, 2006) that have to show great awareness of the different processes in their or­ ganisation and the factors influencing them.

According to Kessels (2001), any actions to enhance the learning and development of people or even entire organisations are likely to fail or produce only short-term effects, if they are unconnected to the topics and themes that are closest to people’s hearts, i.e. to their passions. For, people cannot be smart against their will (ibid). In that respect, it seems worthwhile to explore the notion of passion as it seemingly offers insight into how people relate to various aspects of their work.

Unfortunately though, there is very little academic research on and thus rather limited understanding of the concept of passion. What is meant when people talk about passion? What are the underlying dynamics? What is it influenced by and how can organisations play in role in connecting and enhancing people’s passion?

At least with regards to the latter question, literature from the Business and Management field provide a start­ing point for explorations. For, as the work of Bruch and Ghoshal (2003), Handy (1995) and Weymes ( 2005) shows, passion can be seen as an important factor in the corporate cultures of organisations. It follows from this that the concept of passion and the concept of corporate cultures might be fundamentally intertwined. - What role would passion play? How would it influence corporate cultures? How does it translate to the different levels in an organisation (e.g. individual, client and organisational level)?

Essentially, all these questions form the starting point of this research! So, what are they all about?

1.2 Cenfra/ research fftemes

Passion - In general, the term passion can be defined as the level of meaning persons assign to certain tasks or objects as well as an indicator of their inner need to repeatedly attach themselves to them (Hirschhorn, 2003). Thus, passion can be characterised as a measure of intensity for the feelings someone holds for specific jobs or things.

Although the concept of passion seemingly has not been researched as a single, independent factor in pub­lished academic literature, several scholars have attempted to outline and specify the behavioural aspects of passion. Chang (2000) and Chaudhuri (2001), for instance, have demonstrated that passionate people show very distinguishable characteristics. For instance, they feel thorough joy for a specific theme, job or task, they involve all senses while expressing their passion, they value, protect and nurture their passion and so on. A study by

Gubman (2004) has even indicated that the concept of passion can be linked to the ‘Big Five’ personality dimen­ sions outlined by McCrae and Costa in 2002[1].

However, all these ideas and findings are rather vague as they exclusively focus on the behavioural aspects of passion. The present study was therefore also underpinned by academic theories or frameworks on careers (Leider, 2000), motivation (Maslow, 1943; 1954) as well as philosophy (Weymes, 2005) in order to gain a better understanding of its origins and to better grasp its meaning.

The same is true for the second main theme of this research: (passionate) corporate cultures. Here too, older, more traditional as well as newer, more recent business and management literature but also anthropologi­ cal and philosophical ideas and notions were examined to gain an in-depth understanding of the concept and its connection to passion.

Corporate cultures - In anthropology, the term culture can generally be defined as “a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life”

(Geertz, 1973, p. 89). Interestingly, in the HR field an organisational culture is also defined as: “a pattern of as­ sumptions - invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration - that has worked well enough to be considered valuable, and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems” (Schein, 1985, p. 9).

Even though there is no qualitative difference between the definitions, the comparison of both is yet impor­tant as corporate cultures are so-called ‘sub-cultures’, i.e. a smaller culture within an already existing, larger one (Kottak, 1984). This, as will be explained later, has relevance for the interpretation and understanding of corpo­ rate cultures.

The comparison moreover indicates that the concept of corporate culture and the concept of passion are equally complex and therefore explains why it was rather difficult to define and understand the connection be­tween both. For, only three theoretical constructs were found that provided insight on the topic, namely Bruch and Ghoshal’s “Four energy zones model” (2003), Handy’s “Gods of Management classification” (1995) and Weymes’ philosophical argument to apply Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li to design people-focused or­ ganisation (2005).

Upon critical reflection on the theories however, it was found that they had one pitfall: they largely disre­garded the differentiation outlined by Kottak (1984). That is they did not give enough attention to the fact that organisations are “living phenomena” and that every member is therefore “an active agent in enacting the organisational culture” (Senge et al., 2005, p. 49). For, this signifies that it is in fact more useful to look at human beings than abstract concepts of corporate cultures.

Therefore, a new framework was developed that in order to investigate which aspects might support the exis­tence of passion in corporate cultures and which might lead to its absence in people. It was based on the notion of individuals as being four-dimensional, i.e. consisting of a body, mind, soul and spirit (Gordon, 2002).

The literature used to explain this notion did not only support the fact that persons are four-dimensional but also gave indications why organisations/ corporate cultures can too be described as four-dimensional.

This finally led to the development of a model that combined the findings from the literature on human beings with theories on organisations.

1.3 Central research questions

As stated above, research-based literature on the concept passion is sparse. Thus, its current understanding can be considered superficial and dismissive of the complexity and possible power of the construct. The first research question in this study hence was:

What is the concept of passion?

It was moreover pointed out that the connection between passion and corporate cultures - despite being ac­knowledged in literature - is not very well researched either. Secondly, it was thus asked:

What does the concept of passion relate to in corporate cultures?

Lastly, it was hinted that the models and theoretical frameworks used to explore the concept of (passionate) corporate cultures focused too little on investigating on human beings as being the organisational culture. There­fore, a new framework and model were developed that were based on the idea that corporate cultures are four­dimensional. Both functioned as a tool to gain a better understanding of the elements, processes and dynamics that complimented and/ or restrained people’s passion in the culture of work. Accordingly, the final two research questions studied were:

What factors nurture passion in corporate cultures?

What factors inhibit passion in corporate cultures?

1.4 Central research aims

The study investigated two rather complex concepts that are both only partly understood and defined. Linking to the central research themes and research questions, this study therefore aimed:

- To examine the diverse and multi-layered facets of the concept of passion.
- To practically test its relevance as a fundamental ingredient in corporate cultures.
- To investigate the factors that compliment and/ or restrain passion in the culture of work.
- To contribute to a more holistic, research-based understanding of passion in general and in particular regarding its connection to corporate cultures.

1.5 Contribution of the study Overall, the current study uniquely contributes on three levels: 1) on a scientific, 2) on a practical, and 3) on a personal level.

1. Scientific contribution: As outlined in the research aims, by working towards a more holistic, research- based understanding of the concept of passion in general and especially its connection to corporate cul­tures, this study has attempted to make a unique contribution to the field of science. Since it was carried out in part-fulfilment for a master in Human Resource Development, its contribution is primarily aimed at the field of HRD. However, as a large part of the referenced literature for this research stem from other fields, it also contributes to the fields of HRM, Business Studies, and Management.

2. Practical contribution: The practical contribution is two-fold. Firstly, as will be shown in the latter parts of this thesis, the research findings have practical meaning for HRD respectively HRM, Business and Man­agement professionals, as they give insight into how passion contributes and how it can be uncovered, developed and sustained in corporate cultures. Secondly, the study has practical implications for re­searchers, as it uses a somewhat exceptional method to analyse data. For, instead of transcribing the data, they were largely summarised in a story telling format. This allowed for a more in-depth analysis of the findings and enabled the researcher to account for elements such as the atmosphere and feelings during an interview or observation process. In this study, fellow researchers are thus offered an innova­ tive and possibly more enjoyable way to summarise research data.

3. Contribution to personal development:

This research was carried out as part of a 1-year competency- based master programme. Along the line of this notion of competency-based learning, the work on the master thesis has been used to broaden and deepen the understanding of the researcher’s passions, strengths, as well as skills as a researcher and future HRD professional. Thus, the study has finally fun­damentally contributed the researcher’s personal development.

1.6 Further structure and content of the study

The further structure of the research is as follows. Firstly, a review of the current literature on passion and organisational cultures will be given and the concepts will be defined and discussed. As will be shown, neither passion nor its link to corporate cultures is clearly defined. Therefore, an entirely new framework will be intro­ duced that explains and accounts for the sensitive relationship between passion and corporate cultures as well as those factors that support or inhibit it. In short, the chapter will enable the reader to gain a better understanding of how the research questions were derived.

The third chapter will provide a detailed outline of the research design. It will be argued that due to the broad nature of the research questions, a case study approach was chosen. This was supported and complimented by various exploratory and qualitative research methods such as interviewing and observations. The chapter will moreover introduce the two research cases, the Dutch HRD consultancy firm Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company and the German four-star superior hotel Gunnewig Hotel Bristol Bonn. Subsequently, an in-depth de­scription of the research process and the particulars encountered in both organisations will be given. Finally, the data analysis process will be reviewed and the deviations in the research process as well as its consequences will be illustrated.

In the results chapter both the main findings from the data collection process at Kessels & Smit as well as Hotel Bristol will be presented. In addition, key themes and connections between the data regarding the concept of passion and corporate cultures will be portrayed and analysed. For instance, the data analysis led to two valu­able models that comprehensively outline the concept of individual respectively corporate passion. In sum, the chapter will establish a foundation for the fifth and final chapter.

The discussion and conclusion chapter will attempt to give meaning to the rich data outlined in the results chapter. It will be shown that both the concepts of passion as well as corporate passion are linked to diverse themes such as integrity and authenticity, spirituality and emotionality or learning and connectedness. Moreover, the implications for practitioners and researchers will be outlined and recommendations for further research will be made. Finally, the quality of the research process will be reviewed and overall conclusions will be drawn.

2. Passion in corporate cultures?! - Answers from literature

As outlined in the introduction, the study attempted to investigate and combine two rather complex concepts: the concept of passion and the concept of corporate cultures. Particularly the former however is only sparsely underpinned by research. Hence, literature from other fields and domains had to be investigated to construct a sound and stable theoretical framework.

The present chapter aims to give an in-depth insight into the findings of this explorative search of the litera­ture. It is divided into three parts. The first part exclusively focuses on the concept of passion. The second part subsequently explores corporate cultures. The third part subsequently attempts to combine both notions. In order to do so, an entirely new framework had to be developed. The final part summarises the main findings from the literature review and provides overall conclusions offering suggestions for an appropriate research design.

2.1 Investigating the concept of passion

According to Hirschhorn (2003), passion is the level of meaning persons assign to certain tasks or objects as well as an indicator of their inner need to repeatedly attach themselves to them. Thus, passion can be seen as the measure of intensity for the feelings someone holds towards a specific job or matter.

While this sounds rather difficult and complex, everyday life shows that the signs of passion are often a lot more subtle. Who has not yet seen the sparkle in someone’s eyes when they talk about their favourite hobby or a great project at work? Who has not yet felt the energy of a person who truly liked their everyday job? And, who has not yet watched in great surprise how a family member, friend, or colleague has pushed him- or herself to his or her limits and still appeared at his or her happiest? Regardless whether passion is defined in more complicated or simple terms, both explanations suggest that passion translates in different ways. However, what are the key elements of passion?

2.1f In search for the elements of passion

In general, it seems rather difficult to investigate a construct like passion as it stands for deep and intense feelings, emotions, or states that can oftentimes hardly be put into words. When talking about passion it therefore frequently happens that it is set equal to terms such as motivation (the reason(s) behind one’s actions or behav­iour) or engagement (the action of engaging in something).2

Sievers (1986), however, has argued that passion cannot be described with the word motivation because it is

a scientifically and thus artificially constructed surrogate for the word ‘meaning’. Likewise, Sprenger (2005) states that motivation can have two meanings. On the one hand, it can refer to intrinsic motivation, e.g. an employee

works hard because he has (intrinsic) interest in his job. On the other hand, it can stand for extrinsic motivation, e.g. a manager attempts to create, sustain, or increase his employees’ motivation with the help of monetary or[2] non-monetary rewards. Thus it can be questioned whether the word motivation truly is an adequate substitute to describe the elements of passion.

Similar conclusions can be drawn regarding the word engagement. Gubman (2004) for instance believes that the term is non-representative of the word ‘passion’, as it disregards the individuality of passion. Since, while engagement is largely a function of what someone does and where, passion is also about who someone is. In that respect, passion is deeper, more enduring than engagement as it relates to a person’s identity.

Gubman (2004) has taken his argument even further though. For, a recent study by him suggests that pas­sionate people possess personality traits that are rooted in the ‘Big Five’ personality dimensions3. According to his participants, passionate people are perceived as lively, likable, and adaptive persons, who are able to pass on enthusiasm and steer changing situations as well as various types of people while remaining focused on their goals (ibid). In short, passionate people have a variety of positive characteristics which make them seem not only more attached to their work but also more successful in it.

Further evidence favouring the idea that passionate people display certain behaviours or possess certain character traits can be found in work by Chang (2000) and Chaudhuri (2001).

Table 2.1: Summary of the main elements of passion in theories by Chang (2000) and Chaudhuri (2001)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten As Table 2.1 shows, both Chang and Chaudhuri believe that passionate people have many skills as well as strengths and are somewhat more holistic in how they view themselves and others (e.g. they do not only think about the future but are future-oriented with a fine sense of their destiny). In addition, they suggest that passion­ate people continuously and consciously attempt to express, nurture and develop their passion(s). Finally, as

Chang outlines they are careful in how they ‘use’ their passion, as they are neither addicted to nor obsessed with

3 According to McCrae and Costa (2002), the five dimensions are:

1. Extraversion vs. Introversion

2. Conscientiousness vs. Undirectedness

3. Agreeableness vs. Antagonism

4. Emotional stability vs. Neuroticism

5. Openness vs. Closed to Experience

it. Rather, as Chaudhuri states, they are persons who value life as a whole, i.e. they appreciate all elements of life (e.g. good music, food, nature) and are opt to enjoy them.

In short, the authors portray passionate people as highly autonomous and self-driven achievers, who have a fine sense for their needs.

However, are passionate people truly displaying this kind of positive behaviour? Do they have to have all traits suggested by Chang and Chaudhuri or Gubman, respectively, or are they also considered passionate if they only have three or four of the proposed characteristics? Does being passionate mean having a gift and if so, are in fact only some of us passionate while others are not? - Here, the theories by Chang, Chaudhuri and Gubman fall somewhat short of explanations as they do not discuss those kind of questions.

Thus, if the words ‘motivation’ and ‘engagement’ do not seem suitable to look at and understand passion and also descriptions of the skills and behaviours of passionate people do not provide great insight into the concept, how can it then best be explained?

2.12 Alternative ways to look at passion

Overall, three theoretical constructs provide answers to the question how the concept of passion can best be explained: a) Leider’s (2000) theory on authentic vocation, b) Maslow’s (1943, 1954) theory on the hierarchy of needs, and c) Weymes’ (2005) philosophical argument for using Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li to design people-focused organisations. - All three fundamentally link to the question: What are the origins of passion?

2.12.1 Authentic vocation (Leider, 2000)

The term authentic vocation relates to the idea that to be one’s “true self’] one must seek and commit to

“[their] contribution to the world” (Leider, 2000, p. 105). Thus, authentic vocation concerns people’s identity, direc­tion, and purpose (Pedersen, 2004). To find one’s true self, one must ask questions regarding these three factors, namely: ‘Who am I?’ (identity), ‘Where am I going?’ (direction) and ‘Why am I going there?’ (purpose). For, only “discovering our authentic vocation gives us a sense that we are unfolding to a larger design - a realisation that makes our lives feel focused and more purposeful” (Leider, 2000, p. 106).

Steinhauser (2005) has argued that passion and authentic vocations are somewhat similar to each other, be­cause, as Hirschhorn’s (2003) definition has shown, passion is about practising what one’s heart desires. Thus, it could be argued that it is fundamentally linked to one’s spiritual self as well as one’s drivers in life. Moreover, Leider’s work indicates that passion is about self-fulfilment - an element that can also be found in Maslow’s work.

2.12.2 Hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1943, 1954)

According to Maslow’s (1943, 1954), people strive to satisfy a variety of deeply rooted needs. In his well known hierarchy of needs model (Fig. 2.1), he therefore argues that every individual has three basic needs (physiological, safety and affiliation) and two so-called higher order needs (esteem and self-actualisation).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

As can be seen in Fig. 2.1, physiological needs such as food, drinking, warmth, or shelter are the most basic human needs. These are followed by safety needs, which concern people’s physical and psychological security as well as predictability, order and stability. Thirdly, there is affiliation. This is prompted by mankind’s strong social nature (Rollinson, Broadfields & Edwards, 1998) and regards feelings like love, friendship, belonging, accep­ tance, etc. On the first level of the higher order need is esteem. Here, Maslow differs between self-esteem and esteem by others. While the former relates to a person’s view of him- or herself (Rollinson et al., 1998), the latter refers to the notion that an individual’s self-concept is also influenced or shaped by others (Argyle, 1968). At the top level of Maslow’s hierarchy is the need for self-actualisation. This argues that - because of people’s need for self-actualisation - they strive to live up to their full potential.

Maslow’s model furthermore rests on two assumptions. Firstly, he believes that the needs at one level will not play a particular role for an individual unless those at the level below have been satisfied. Secondly, he states that once the needs on one level are satisfied, they no longer have a motivational or stimulating effect. - What does this tell about passion and its roots?

Although Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model has been widely criticised by fellow scholars for being the result of armchair reasoning and not provable by research (e.g. Lazarus, 1971; Whahaba & Bridewell, 1976 Rauschenberger, Schmitt & Hunter, 1980), it yet seems that passion strongly relates to the higher order need of self-actualisation. For, passion is directed at something that creates deepest joy and a strong sense of (self- fulfilment in people. Hence, one might argue that passion is a key element to satisfy this need.

On the other hand, as Hirschhorn’s (2003) definition has shown, the concept of passion somewhat contra­dicts Maslow. Since, if passion truly is the level of meaning persons assign to certain tasks or objects and if it is the driving force to attempt the journey to self-actualisation, then people possibly already ‘attached’ themselves to the idea of self-actualisation respectively passion before a need on prior level has been satisfied.

Maslow’s work yet points towards another core characteristic of passion. Since, in a recent study it was found that the search and the expression of passion are strongly influenced by internal (e.g. self-confidence) and external (e.g. processes or other people) factors (Steinhauser, 2005). That is, certain elements can have both a supporting and/or an inhibiting character on passion. Maslow’s theory provides reasons for this. For, if an individ­ual has hardly any money to satisfy his/her basic physiological or safety needs, it possibly will not aspire to fulfil its passion/ potential. In reverse, if an individual possesses enough money to satisfy its basic needs, it is more likely to do what s/he always wanted to do. Thus, Steinhauser’s work does not only indirectly confirm Maslow’s assumption but also indicates that passion is indeed something that not everybody strives for - regardless whether they have the wish to do so or not.

In short, Maslow’s work seems to provide two important insights. Firstly, passion appears to be closely linked to self-actualisation and secondly, it seems to underlie certain dynamics that are triggered, altered, or stopped by internal and external factors. Particularly, the latter play a significant role in Weymes’ philosophical argument for using Confucianism or the theory of the Ren to designing people-focused organisations.

2.12.3 Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li-Part / (Weymes, 2005)

Although Weymes argument in favour of an application for Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li in organisational design is not based on a study or model, it yet provides valuable ideas regarding the concept of passion. Drawing on the field of philosophy he shows how broad and deep the concept of passion is.

The philosophy of Confucius consists of two parts: the Ren and the Li. While the Ren describes the relation­ ship between people, the Li stands for the norms of society. Hence, Confucianism “addresses the freedom of the individual (Ren) with the controls necessary to allow society to function in an efficient manner (L/)” (Weymes, 2005, p. 148). Although Confucius has never clearly defined the Ren and the Li, it can yet be said that the Ren stands for having a benevolent attitude towards others, acknowledging the intrinsic value of every individual and committing resolutely to an ideal purpose of an individual’s or organisation’s goal or dream (ibid). On the other hand, the Li characterises rituals, which may be understood as rules and norms of society regarding acceptable behaviour (ibid).

According to Weymes, especially the Ren is a key component in understanding individuals. Drawing from peak performance theory, he and others (e.g. Lin, 2002) argue that, for instance, so-called inspirational players show several characteristics that are relevant for understanding the relationship between passion and people. These four characteristics are:

1. A playful curiosity and a natural genius for exploring knowledge;

2. Dreams and lofty idealism (often vague, confused or cocky);

3. The ability to correct dreams by a sense of humour, and thus restrain idealism by a more robust and healthy realism, and

4. A non-mechanical and non-uniform reaction to surroundings.

Most valuable, however, is the ability to engage in processes of self-discovery. That is, inspirational players possess the skills to find “[.../ their ambition, their purpose, their inspirational dream” (Weymes, 2005, p. 151). Especially the latter is vital since inspirational dreams entail individuals’ values and beliefs. In Weymes’ eyes, these values and beliefs form the basis for passion.

This suggests that passion is rooted in ideas and/ or ideals about the world and that these guide individuals’ actions and interactions. Hence, Weymes philosophical argument complements Hirschhorn, Leider and Maslow’s work, as it too connects to the notion that passion originates from within, i.e. that it is an outcome of deep, intrin­ sic processes which are directed at the larger whole and is influenced by internal and external processes.

2.1.3 The concept of passion - Implications of the findings for this research

The investigation of the concept of passion has shown that it cannot be explained in simple terms. It requires openness to other - not necessarily field-related - domains and professions. For, passion is a holistic concept that reaches into and touches on several aspects of people’s life. It is thus hard to apply only one single theory, framework, or line of reasoning to explain it.

Therefore, Hirschhorn, Leider, Maslow and Weymes’ works were used as the theoretical underpinning for the present research - with the aim to develop their notions further and contribute to an even greater knowledge

about what the concept of passion involves. To fulfil this goal, this study researched the following question:

What is the concept of passion?

As will be shown in the discussion chapter, it was answered by using the work as a means to reflect and dis­cuss the participants’ responses to this question.

Similar actions were taken with regards to the theory on the concept of (passionate) corporate cultures.

2.2 Examining the concept of (passionate) corporate cultures

In anthropology, the term culture is defined as “a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life” (Geertz, 1973:89). That is, they embed traditions and customs, are transmitted through learning and often govern the beliefs and behaviours of its mem­bers (Kottak, 1994).

Interestingly, the field of HRD and HRM has adopted these definitions to describe another phenomenon, namely the occurrence of so-called corporate or organisational cultures. Peters and Waterman (1982:103), for instance have stated that corporate cultures are “dominant and coherent sets of shared values conveyed by such symbolic means as stories, myths, legends, slogans, anecdotes and fairy tales”. Likewise, Schein (1985:9) has argued that they are “patterns of basic assumptions - invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration - that have worked well enough to be considered valuable and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems”. Thus, their definitions are comparable to those of Geertz and Kottak, as they too refer to the idea that each culture in an organisation has its own, unique frame of reference, which is shared by most, if not all, of its members. In addition, they fulfil the role of teaching its members about this set of values or frame of reference.

However, the comparison also sheds led on the ‘root’ of corporate cultures. For, as Kottak (1994) outlines, organisational cultures can be seen as ‘sub-cultures’, i.e. they are smaller cultures within an existing, larger one.

- This has, as will be explained towards the end of this part, relevance for the interpretation and understanding of the concept of corporate cultures and in particular its link to passion.

Various academic researchers have tried to express the meaning and set-up of corporate cultures in models or theoretical frameworks. In 1981, Ouchi for instance developed a framework that explained the differences between American, Japanese firms and so-called type Z American firms[3] and showed that all three types of or­ganisations viewed and expressed cultural characteristics such as commitment of employees, evaluation of em­ployees, control of employees or concern for people very differently. Ouchi therefore concluded that cultural dif­ferences translated into organisational contexts.

Similarly, Peters and Waterman (1982) investigated the cultures in a number of highly successful American companies. Although they found that most of the organisations had very similar cultures, they also established eight main qualities or attributes - such as staying close to the customer, autonomy and entrepreneurship or productivity through people - that allowed for a differentiation between good or very good organisations and ex­cellent ones. Thus, they found that the concept of corporate cultures has distinguishable and qualitative charac­teristics.

Finally, Deal and Kennedy (1982) researched the underlying elements of organisational cultures and estab­ lished that the four most important factors determining them are values, organisational heroes, rites and rituals as well as cultural networks. Hence, their research confirmed Peters and Waterman (1982) as well as Schein’s 1985) definitions of corporate cultures.

Unfortunately though, these models and frameworks provide little insight into the influence on and role of passion in organisational cultures as they explain the concept of corporate cultures on a more general or basic level. In recent years three other theories and models have been developed however that not only acknowledge the element of passion but also discuss its influence and purpose. These theories and models are: 1) Bruch and Ghoshal’s “The four energy zones model” (2003), 2) Handy’s “The Gods of Management classification” (1995) and 3) once again Weymes’ argument for Confucianism or using the theory of the Ren and Li to design people- focused organisations (2005).

2.2.1 The four energy zones model (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003)

According to Bruch and Ghoshal (2003), every organisation has energy and “it is the intersection of intensity and quality that determines [this] organisation’s energy state” (p. 46). In this connection, intensity relates to the strengths or force of this energy (e.g. the level of activity, the amount of interaction, etc), while the term quality refers to its properties. For, an organisation’s energy can either be positive (e.g. driven by enthusiasm, joy or satisfaction) or negative (e.g. guided by fear, frustration or sorrow).

Correspondingly, Bruch and Ghoshal suggest that organisations fall into one of four categories of the “Four energy zones model” (Fig. 2.2): 1) Comfort zone, 2) Resignation zone, 3) Aggression zone, and 4) Passion zone.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2.2: Four energy zones model (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003, p. 47)

As can be seen, companies in the comfort zone have a high level of satisfaction but a low level of action.

Thus, its employees might be very content but they lack the “vitality, alertness and emotional tension necessary for initiating bold new strategic thrusts or significant change” (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003, p. 46). Organisations in the resignation zone, on the other hand, show both low and negative energy (e.g. frustration, disappointment, sor­row). Therefore, they are not particularly active and their employees may not identify with the company goals at all (ibid). Businesses in the aggression zone are driven by a strong, negative energy, which often expresses in an intense competitive spirit and portrays in high levels of activity and alertness (ibid). Hence, unlike organisations in the resignation zone, they oftentimes direct all power towards achieving company goals. Lastly, firms in the pas­ sion zone flourish and excel on their great positive energy and large amount of varying activities. Their employees feel joy and pride working in the organisation and all enthusiasm and excitement appears to be set on reaching shared organisational priorities (ibid).

Bruch and Ghoshal argue that organisations in the comfort or resignation zone live in the past respectively have nearly given up. Consequently, they are less likely to be successful, as they prefer standardised, institution­alised ways of working. They shun innovation and risk as well as suffer from conflicting priorities and a lack of employee commitment. In reverse, companies in the aggression or passion zone show urgency for productivity (Cross et al., 2003), as they “strive for larger-than-life goals” (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003, p. 47). Their energy more­over supports them in aligning and channelling their powers and in directing them towards common goals and activities (ibid).

In short, the model suggests that high achieving organisations are full of energy. Businesses that work from passion or with passionate people for that matter are likely to have the highest energy levels. For, their work is not only driven by very positive factors but they do a lot to develop themselves and their people, too. Simply put: their cultures appear to be based on “cohesion”(ibid, p. 48).

The model thus corresponds with the general findings about passion. Akin to, Hirschhorn (2003), Bruch and Ghoshal argue that passion is about energy and the intensity of it. Likewise, there is a connection to Leider (2000), who too sees the roots of passion in something larger-than-life, i.e. something spiritual. - This idea or notion can also be found in Handy’s Gods of management classification.

2.2.2 The Gods of management classification (Handy, 1995)

In his well-known book “The Gods of Management” (1995), Charles Handy differs between four types of or­ganisational cultures and bases them on the characteristics and personality traits of four Greek Gods, namely: 1) Club or Zeus cultures, 2) Role or Apollo cultures, 3) Task or Athena cultures, and 4) Existential or Dionysus cul­ tures.

Club or Zeus cultures (named after Zeus, the powerful leader of all gods) are generally characterised by af­finity, trust, speed of decision as well as selection and succession. They are similar to a spider’s web, with the all- important spider sitting in the centre. This central ruler holds the culture together, animates, and leads it (Gabriel, 1999). The club or Zeus cultures’ core value is loyalty.

Role cultures are named after Apollo (the God of harmony and order) and strive on stability, predictability,

security, and patterns. They are bureaucratic and could be illustrated with an organisation chart, in which each box would represent a job title with an individual’s name in it (Handy, 1995). Organisations with this type of cul­ture most likely value the adherence to impersonal rules (Gabriel, 1999).

Task or Athenian cultures (named after Athena, the warrior Goddess), on the contrary, prefer to work in non- hierarchical teams of experts who find solutions to a problem. Therefore, problem-solving is their core value and they encourage improvisation, invention and resourcefulness. According to Handy (1995), task or Athenian cul­ tures can be described as a net “which can pull its cords this way and that and regroup at w/'ll”(p. 29).

Finally, there are existential or Dionysian cultures (named after Dionysus, the God of wine and song), which exist to service the purpose of the individual by giving him/her the freedom to develop and execute his or her ideas in the way s/he wants. They have commune cultures that value people, their development, and their well­being. Existential or Dionysian cultures can be illustrated by a loose cluster or constellation of stars. However, as Handy (1995) points out, the picture or the culture will not change if a star respectively an employee leaves the organisation, as they are mutually independent of each other.

Handy moreover points out that even though every organisation displays a mixture of characteristics from more than one type of culture, most businesses yet show some dominant signs that make a classification into, for example, typical Role or Apollonian or classical Task or Athenian cultures possible.

How does Handy’s classification relate to the concept of passion? - Even though Handy does not specifically use the word passion in his description of the four types of cultures, it can yet be argued that existential cultures closely relate to the idea of passion. Since, as for instance Leider’s (2000) concept of authentic vocation has shown, passion is directed at a purpose and to fulfil and service this purpose is exactly what existential cultures strive to do. Hence, it could therefore be argued that Handy’s classification not only indirectly supports the exis­ tence of passion but also indicates that entire organisations could be build around it. - Interestingly, this exact same notion can be found in Confucianism respectively the theory of the Ren and the Li. It suggests even that businesses should be constructed on passion, as this would allow them to reach a higher level of commitment and lead to greater success (Weymes, 2005).

2.2.3 Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li - Part II (Weymes, 2005)

As outlined in the first part of on Weymes’ (2005) theory, he argues that it is essential to match the purpose of an organisation with the dream or passion of each employee in order to create a people-focused organisation. The starting point to do this is the so-called inspirational dream of the organisation, which - in simple terms - conveys the message “This organisation makes a difference” (ibid, p. 152). Interestingly, most people seem to identify a lot more with this than financial growth or return on investment. Organisations living their inspirational dream therefore oftentimes have more passionate and committed employees, as they are driven by values that generate high levels of trust. In short, the inspirational dream creates the spirit of the organisation. This is an important finding since Confucianism or the theory of the Ren clearly states: “An organisation without spirit has no passion” (ibid, p. 152).

Weymes moreover states that the inspirational dream extends internal boundaries of the organisation and is transferable onto external contacts such as customers/ clients, suppliers, distributors, shareholders, and other members of the community. Here the dream is not captured in form of spirit though but in the brand or “love- mark” (Roberts, 2003), which signifies a deep relationship between external contacts and the organisation. The main characteristic of the love-mark is that it creates a strong pride of association - both externally and internally. External contacts are proud to be associated with the brand of the organisation, while employees are proud of their achievements and those of the company.

In short, “[w]hen passion and pride permeate an organisation a ‘family like’ environment emerges where staff work in a harmonious manner. [...]A family environment cannot be engineered in an organisation [however]since it is the result of the interactions between individuals in the organisation. If individuals do not trust and respect each other, passion may be present in the senior management team but not throughout the organisation, and pride may permeate the organisation but the organisation will not be a family and a harmonious working environ­ment is unlikely to exist” (Weymes, 2005, p. 153). That is, Weymes suggests that organisations with people- focused cultures can be powerful and successful as they make their business about their people - including their dreams, passions and interests.

In that respect, Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li present a rather holistic notion of (passion­ate) corporate cultures. For, they contain and incorporate many of the statements and notions of Bruch and Gho- shal (2003), Handy (1995), Leider (2000) or other academics named so far.

2.2.4 The concept of (passionate) corporate cultures - Implications of the findings for this study

The examination of the concept of (passionate) corporate cultures has demonstrated that passion - as an independent construct - is not integrated in traditional management literature on corporate culture. However, three models/ theoretical frameworks were found in recent publications that incorporated not only the notion of corporate cultures but also passion. In Bruch and Ghoshal’s (2003) model, passion and organisational cultures were linked to energy. In Handy’s (1995) model they were related to existential purposes and in Weymes’ (2005) philosophical argument they were connected to individuals’ and organisations’ spirits or their inspirational dreams.

Interestingly, as particularly the previous paragraph has shown, it is a combination of theoretical models and ideas that best sheds light on how passion and corporate cultures are intertwined.

For that reason, the frameworks, and notions of these last four scholars were applied as the theoretical fun­dament to guide the exploration of the concept of corporate cultures in this study. By doing this, it was aimed to broaden the understanding of what the concept of passion concerns in the context of organisational cultures and to thus answer the subsequent research question:

What does the concept of passion relate to in corporate cultures?

In this connection, the theories and constructs outlined above functioned as tools to analyse, reflect on and discuss the participants’ answers regarding this question as well as the researcher’s observations (see discussion chapter).

They did not seem particularly useful however to analyse the question what would support or inhibit the

connection between passion and corporate cultures. For, they had one pitfall: They largely disregard the differen­tiation outlined by Kottak (1994). That is, they paid too little attention to the fact that organisations are living phe­ nomena” and that every member is an “active agent enacting the organisational culture” (Senge et al., 2005, p. 49). It follows from this that it is in fact more useful to look at human beings rather than as abstract concepts of corporate cultures. Only then, the findings can be effectively transferred onto a conceptual level. - How can this be achieved?

2.3 A new way of combining the concepts of passion and corporate culture

According to Gordon (2002), human beings can be seen as consisting of four, distinguishable dimensions.

These are:

1. A body (i.e. one’s physical body)

2. A mind (i.e. one’s intellect)

3. A soul (i.e. one’s inner being)

4. A spirit (i.e. one’s spiritual being)

Consequently, an investigation of all four dimensions could not only shed light on how the concept of passion expresses on an individual level but also - following Senge et al.’s (2005) reasoning - on an organisational level.

The subsequent paragraphs will attempt to make this connection as clear and as alive as possible. They will present a new, more thorough framework, as they investigate each of the dimensions separately and outline their implications on the level of individuals as well as organisations. This will finally lead to the development of a unique model of passionate corporate cultures.

It must be pointed out though that the proposed framework will not and cannot account for the complexity of human beings or corporate cultures. This means, it will not investigate the different roles both can play or discuss the various factors that impact on people and organisational cultures on a daily basis. Instead, in line with the scope of this research, it will mainly focus on the individual in the role of the employee respectively on organisa­tional contexts.

2.3.1 The first dimension -Body

Human beings - The importance of the body respectively people’s physical and mental health has gained significant importance in recent years. For, in today’s fast and vastly changing world it becomes more and more difficult for people to avoid disturbances and instabilities in their bodies and their health as they face an increasing imbalance between effort and relaxation on a daily basis (Kallus in Klasman, 2005). However, as health most likely becomes the main driving force in economies in the near future (Nefiodow in Bergmann, 2002), people’s ‘bodies’ will come into the focus of attention even more in coming years. First signs of this are already present in society. For instance, while it was difficult to find fat-reduced products in some shops and supermarkets a decade ago, today almost all food retailers offer them en masse.

Similarly, the awareness for healthy employees has risen in organisations. An example of this is the Califor­ nian company Pantagonia Inc. This organisation does not only encourage workers to pursue their passion but also values healthy employees. All workers are thus welcome to carry out their sport activities at any time during the day (e.g. during their lunch break). This has led Pantagonia not only to become very successful financially in recent years but was also crowned with the 2000 WORKEFORCE Optimas Award for the quality of work life they offer (Laabs, 2000).

How does the dimension ‘body’ relate to the concept of passion? - According to Leider (2000), following one’s authentic vocation means living from the inside out”(p.106). This suggests that simply expressing one’s passion can significantly contribute to one’s health. For, as Psychology has repeatedly shown, suppression of feelings or wishes can create tremendous stress and unrest (e.g. Gleitman, 1999; Gross, 2001; Pervin & John, 2001). On the other hand, Chaudhuri (2001) argues that being passionate means valuing and opting for enjoying all elements of life (e.g. good music, food, nature, etc). If Chaudhuri’s assumption is correct, it can hence be said that passionate persons may pay particular attention to their health.

Organisations - Although all of the literature above refers to the human body, Hannemann’s (2006) descrip­tion of the Norwegian architecture bureau Snchetta indicates that corporate cultures also have a body, namely in form of their building, their offices and/ or the environment surrounding both. This is interesting as the body of an organisational culture is oftentimes what workers, customers, suppliers possible new members, et cetera see first and - most likely without them being consciously aware of it - the culture starts talking to them as the following quote shows:

'There is a queue in front of the coffee machine in the old warehouse at Vippetangen: young people, dressed modern, styled modern, having an exceptionally good mood. They work in an open-plan office, whose glassy front faces the fjord, and sit on fair-coloured wood. The concrete buttresses in the warehouse are bare. The PCs whirr, in front of a row of seats is a model of the opera, which Snqhetta builds for Oslo - the capital that would like to be cosmopolitan. The warehouse bares a lot of space. A sheer endlessly long table runs up to a screen and a video beamer. A young man waits on the wooden stairs that lead to the conference rooms. He is nervous. Maybe he has an interview here. The post brings ten applications every day. They are - like the circa 60 architects, who currently work at Vippetangen - from all over the world. ”

Hannemann, 2006, p. 78

In academic literature, the importance of corporate cultures’ bodies is frequently related to ergonomics, workplace or organisational designs (Rollinson et al., 1998). Since, it has been found that the look, set-up, and layout of office building and rooms have a tremendous influence on people’s behaviour and well-being. However, the term body also relates to organisational structures. For, as Bruch and Ghoshal (2003) as well as Handy’s (1995) models have shown, it has an effect on the kind of cultures whether a company has strong or flat hierar­chies. Lastly, the word body can refer to the societal or economical climate a corporate culture acts. For, forces such as rapid changes in technology, economic shocks/ crisis, global political changes, or economic competition can either strengthen and/ or weaken organisations’ immune systems (Robbins, 1991).

What does this mean with regards to the concept of passion? - Similarly to human bodies, organisational bodies can become ‘ill’ too (e.g. the building can burn down, the individual workplaces are not designed according to the job or the organisation might face financial difficulties). As various studies have shown, this has a great effect on how people feel and go about their work (e.g. Tyson & Jackson, 1992; Leong et al., 1996; Mullins, 1996). For instance, as Cooper et al. (1988) has found, ‘unhealthy’ environments may indicate ‘unhealthy’ em­ployees. In return, a ‘nice and healthy body’ means a ‘passionate corporate culture’ and therefore ‘healthy and passionate people’ (see above, description of Pantagonia Inc).

2.3.2 The second dimension - Mind

Human beings - The dimension ‘mind’ too has gained great interest in various academic fields - including HRD - in the past decade. Harrison and Kessels, (2004), for example, state that most of today’s Western labour markets favour so-called knowledge workers, which - generally spoken - signify those individuals in society who generate knowledge (CBP, 2002; OECD, 2001 both in Harrison & Kessels, 2004). Likewise, Heraty and Morley (2002) argue that knowledge has become the economic pivot upon which all success and competitiveness rests. Thus, having and acquiring knowledge is no longer an option for people but a necessity. This however requires not only skills and abilities but also wisdom. For, as Zakaria (2005) points out: “Knowledge can produce equally powerful ways to destroy life, intentionally and unintentionally. It can produce hate and destruction. Knowledge does not by itself bring any answer to the ancient Greek question ‘What is a Good Life?’ It does not produce good sense, courage, generosity and tolerance. And most crucially, it does not produce farsightedness that will allow us all to live together - and grow together - on this world without causing war, chaos and catastrophe. For that we need wisdom”(p. 8).

How does the dimension ‘mind’ relate to passion? - Taking Weymes’ (2005) description of inspirational play­ers, it can be argued that passion oftentimes is people’s source of inspiration to build/ produce knowledge, to develop one’s skills and abilities or to seek for new experiences. Moreover, Kessels (2001) argues that individu­als cannot be smart against their will, as being smart heavily depends on personal interests. This indicates that individuals might be smartest if they are able to work in a job that links to their passion.

Organisations - According to Harrison and Kessels (2004), knowledge has become “the main organisational currency” in today’s learning society and knowledge economy (p.4). That is, businesses are required to continu- ously produce and apply knowledge in order to improve and innovate working processes, products and services. In that respect, organisational cultures’ minds can be seen as the main pool for seeing opportunities for knowl­edge production, for creating and producing this knowledge, for sharing and spreading it, for implementing it as well as for reflecting on knowledge processes (Damhuis & Steinhauser, 2006). The dimension mind can thus be seen as companies’ greatest capital.

Literature suggests that this capital is socially constructed (e.g. Daft & Weick, 1984; Vygotsky, 1978). It thus requires “a culture that encourages a spirit of enquiry, of challenge of established ideas and customary ways of doing and behaving, and a structure and commonality of purpose that enable and encourage groups to come together and discuss and reflect on new information and ideas” (Harrison & Kessels, 2004, p. 131). Assuming this is true, companies therefore need certain skills and abilities as well as apply their experience and wisdom to sus­tain and strive in the learning society and knowledge economy.

Harrison and Kessels’ quote moreover presents a link to the concept of passion though because they state that a knowledge-productive workplace requires a culture that encourages a spirit of enquiry as well as a struc­ture and commonality of purpose. This clearly corresponds with Weymes’ (2005) philosophical argument for using Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li to design people-focused organisations. It also matches Bruch and Ghoshal’s (2003) “Four zones of energy” model, which states that particularly organisations in the passion zone show urgency for productivity and strive for greater goals. Thus, an organisation’s “passion quotient” ap­pears to relate directly to its cultures in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities, et cetera and therefore to their way ofbusiness making (Chaudhuri, 2001, p. 25).

2.3.3 The third dimension - Soul

Human beings - To some the dimension ‘soul’ might appear like a big, omnipotent term as it is currently used in literature to describe and explain almost all kinds of processes in and between people. Generally, it can be referred to as a person’s: emotions, intra- and interpersonal insight, identity, and needs.

Social constructivism argues that emotions guide people’s responses to social situations, as they are learned aspects of behaviour. They are acted out in the presence of an audience and social as well as cultural environ­ ments determine the settings for the displayed emotion (Fineman & Gabriel, 2000 in Antonacopoulou & Gabriel, 2001). Similarly, Baumann (2004) states that “the question of identity arises only with the exposure to communi­ties” (p. 11). In short, emotions and identity become evident in interaction with others. Goleman (2002) argues that this requires emotional intelligence, i.e. the ability to recognise and label one’s feelings and needs (intraper­sonal insight), and reconcile those needs with both one’s long-term goals and the needs of other people (inter­ personal insight). It also includes self-awareness and impulse control, persistence, zeal and motivation, empathy and social deftness. In that respect, the soul could be described the key to one’s self and that of others.

With regards to the concept of passion, this means that the soul can be seen as the ‘access code’ to passion as it allows for the journey to “self-discovery“ (Weymes, 2005). Likewise, it seems to be the ‘trigger’ for express­ ing one’s passion as well as one of the main ‘tools’ to steer and control it.

Organisations - Although Fineman (2000) argues that today’s business world is in large parts “emotionally anorexic” (p. 9), his statement yet seems to indicate that organisations possess an emotional side, a soul. As Hannemann’s (2006) quote about the Norwegian architecture bureau Snehetta and Laabs’ (2000) description of Pantagonia Inc. have shown, this is indeed true as their corporate cultures are very different from one another.

One might even argue that they possess different identities. As cultures are built and maintained in interaction with others however (Wolf, 1982), all organisations are required to reflect upon their doing - internally as well as externally. In short, while the body of a corporate culture can be seen as the outer nature, its soul may be de­scribed as the inner nature. It follows from this that passion could be seen as the expression of an organisation’s emotions, identity and/or nature.

Consequently, passion would play three important roles. Firstly, it would provide insight into the emotional respectively psychological state or make-up of corporate cultures. For, if there is passion, organisations cannot be considered emotionally anorexic and therefore not short of energy (see Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003). Secondly, Bruch and Ghoshal but also Handy’s (1995) models suggest that the presence or absence of passion would tell something about a culture’s identity and needs. With regards to the Four energy zones model, this would mean that organisations in the comfort zone could reach another energy state by engaging in people’s dreams and invoke passion so strong that people will overcome their passivity and satisfaction with the status quo (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003; Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). Lastly, as Weymes’ (2005) philosophical argument has signified passion would help to influence or direct the dynamics between the Ren (intrapersonal insight) and the Li (inter­personal insight), i.e. how the organisation perceives its cultures (e.g. How do organisational members go and feel about their work?) as well as how it relates to others (e.g. clients, business partners; suppliers, etc).

In short, passion is a key component on the soul dimension that can be captured in the question: What is the organisation’s inner being?

2.3.4 The fourth dimension - Spirit

Human beings - The fourth and final dimension ‘spirit’ has been characterised with the following terms: phi­losophical view of existence, vision/ mission as well as values and beliefs.

In literature, the meaning of this dimension is defined best in a quote by lonescu (1997, in Alchin, 2003). This says: “You are a human being. And so you have a philosophical view of existence - whether you realise it or not. About this you have no choice. But there is a choice to be made about your philosophy, and it can be put into these terms: is your philosophy based on conscious, thoughtful, and well-informed reflection? Is it sensitive to, but not chained by the need for logical consistency? Or have you let your subconscious amass an ugly pile of unex­amined prejudice, unjustified intolerance, hidden fears, doubts and implicit contradictions, thrown together by

chance but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind’s wings should have grown? It is not the answer that enlightens but the question”. Thus, the human’s spirit is about how every single person views the world as well as its own and the existence of others. It is about people’s values and beliefs and how they behave because of them. Finally, as also Weymes (2005) has argued, it is about individuals’ visions and/or missions. Hence, it can be said that the dimension spirit refers to what Senge et al. (2005) call “seeing from the whole” (p. 42), i.e. to have and develop the capacity to suspend one’s assumptions and redirect one’s awareness to the generative process that lies behind what one see.

How does spirit translate in the concept of passion? - On the one hand, it transmites in Leider’s theory on authentic vocation (2000), as the missions and/or visions of persons can be captured in the question: What is my purpose? On the other hand, it shows in Weymes’ (2005) work. For, the Ren is clearly influenced and guided by people’s beliefs and values, and so is people’s passion. Thirdly and lastly, even though it was said earlier that Chang (2000) and Chaudhuri’s (2001) theories are somewhat simplistic and superficial, they yet show that pas­ sionate people might perceive themselves and their environment differently because of their spirituality. Passion thus seems to be one of the core elements of the dimension ‘spirit’ with regards to the question: What is my call­ ing?

Organisations - As pointed out earlier, corporate cultures can be viewed as “living phenomena”(Senge et al. (2005, p. 49), as they only come into existence through its members (Schein, 1985). Accordingly, these members shape and determine the spirit, respectively, the philosophical view of existence of an organisation. Likewise, it relates to the question what is laying at the heart of a company’s work (Senge et al., 2005). Since, it is not very likely that the spirit of the Norwegian architecture bureau Snchetta rests on the same values and beliefs and expresses in the same vision and mission as that of the American firm Pantagonia Inc.

Where is the link to passion? - It has already been outlined that an organisation without a spirit possibly has no passion (Weymes, 2005). It was also found though that particularly in organisations in the so-called passion zone (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2003) or in those with existential cultures (Handy, 1995), passion and spirit seem inextri­cably linked. Therefore, it could be argued that the relationship between the dimension spirit and the concept of passion is similar to a symbiosis. Though possible, it is difficult for one to exist without the other.

2.3.5 A model of the four-dimensionality of passionate corporate cultures

As sated in the beginning of this section, the new literary framework led to the development of a model of the four-dimensionality of passionate corporate cultures, which attempts to incorporate and combine the insights, notions, and ideas of the previous paragraphs.

As can be seen in Figure 2.3 (p. 23), each dimension in the model is split into two levels: an employee level and an organisational level. This is done in order to a) to emphasise the fact that human beings are the culture of their organisation and b) to better account for the findings in the previous paragraphs. - What do the single di­mensions entail?

On the employee level, the dimension ‘body’ is related to aspects such as health and energy levels. That is, they relate to the underlying questions: What is the attitude towards health issue? How are the energy levels of the employees (e.g. positive or negative; high or low)?

On the organisational level, the dimension is also linked to the aspect of health but it rather relates to the condition of the physical environment (e.g. the building) and to the organisation’s attitude towards health. This means, does the company - like Pantagonia Inc. - care for its employees’ health or not and if so, how? In addi­tion, it is connected to topics such as workplace design, organisational structures (e.g. flat vs. hierarchical), re­ sources (e.g. monetary vs. non-monetary) as well as the organisation’s ‘immune system’. The latter can be seen as a metaphor for how well the other three dimensions as well as the dimension ‘body’ are developed. Are they all functioning or is one of the dimensions underdeveloped?

On the other hand, the dimension ‘mind’ is - on the employee level - captured in the terms knowledge pro­ductivity, skills and abilities, experience and wisdom. On the organisational level, it relates to topics such as inno­vation, knowledge sharing, and the use of internal strength. Moreover, it entails the aspects history and experi­ ence as well as knowledge productivity in the company’s field of expertise.

The dimension ‘soul’ is summarised in the following questions on the employee level: How does the staff go and feel about its work and its workplace? How does the staff behave towards each other respectively how do the various organisational members interact with each other? On the organisational level, the dimension is linked to questions such as: How high is the awareness level for internal and external processes? How is the company’s emotional state (e.g. anorexic or rich)? Finally, it connected to the question: How well are the needs of the organ­isational members and those of the company known and met?

Finally, the dimension ‘spirit’ is connected to themes like employees’ dreams, values, beliefs, wishes, et cet­era. Likewise, on the organisational level, the dimension reflects in the topics: the organisation’s dream, its vi­ sions and missions, its ethics as well as its motives.

In addition, the model entails the word ‘passion’. This has been given a central position and small tips of an arrow indicate that it reaches into each of the four dimensions. For, as the previous paragraphs have revealed, the concept of passion links and expresses in all four of them.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2.3: The four-dimensionality of passionate corporate cultures

Lastly, as the dimensions have not yet been related to each other in this way and as they have not been re­searched in connection to each other so far, it is assumed that the model is incomplete at this stage. This is ex­ pressed through the abbreviation ‘etc’ that can be found in the end of all four of the coloured boxes.

2.3.6 The 4D model of passionate corporate cultures - Implications of the findings for this research

This third and last part of the chapter has suggested and shown that human beings and thus corporate cul­tures are four-dimensional as well as that the concept of passion plays an important role in both. Thus, a concrete connection between the two constructs was made.

The established framework was moreover used to develop a model that captured the findings of the intro­duced theory. As stated earlier, this had been done to allow for a more thorough exploration of the final two re­ search questions. These were:

What factors nurture passion in corporate cultures?

What factors inhibit passion in corporate cultures?

As it was aimed to gain a greater understanding of those elements, processes and dynamics that compli­ mented and/ or restrained passion in the culture of work, the model was merely used as a as a mean for direc­tion. Thus, it was not put to the test as such but functioned as a tool to look for and investigate certain aspects that can occur in organisational settings.

2.4 Summary of the literature review

The present chapter aimed to give an in-depth insight into the findings of the explorative search of the litera­ture with the aim to place the study in a stable and sound theoretical framework.

Firstly, the concept of passion was investigated. It was found that there exists only limited literature that dis­cusses passion in a holistic way as many theories primarily focus on the behavioural component of passion.

Therefore, additional literature from academics of other scientific fields was used to analyse the concept further (e.g. Leider, 2000; Maslow, 1943,1954; Weymes, 2005). This literature gave insight into the origins, roots as well as dynamics of passion. It helped establish that passion underlies deep intrinsic processes, that possess a spiri­tual root (it links to the notion of self-fulfilment or self-actualisation) and that are influenced by various internal and external factors.

However, as the explored literature did merely provide superficial and little research-based answers it was decided to develop the notions of the relevant academics further by study the following question:

What is the concept of passion?

Subsequently the concept of (passionate) corporate cultures was investigated. It was found that older, rather traditional literature on corporate cultures did not entail the concept of passion. Therefore, newer and more recent work was searched for. In total, three models and theories were discovered that linked the concept of corporate cultures with the concept of passion: 1) The four energy zones model by Bruch and Ghoshal (2003), 2) The Gods of Management Classification (Handy, 1995) and 3) Confucianism or the theory of the Ren and the Li (Weymes, 2005).

In the first case, passion and organisational cultures were linked to energy. In the second case, they were re­lated to existential purposes and in the third case they were connected to spirituality and inspirational dreams.

Interestingly though, only taken together they seemed sound enough to shed light on the intertwining of pas­sion and corporate cultures. Henceforth it was decided to use the theories as a fundament but to investigate the connection between passion and corporate cultures yet more deeply. The second research question thus be­ came:

What does the concept of passion relate to in corporate cultures?

The third theoretical construct underpinning this research was developed after discovering that the theories and models on (passionate) corporate cultures commonly had one pitfall: they disregarded that organisations are “living phenomena” (Senge et al., 2005, p. 49) and that every member in an organisational culture personifies it. Thus, they overlooked that it is more useful to focus on human beings rather than abstract concepts if one aims to gain insight into the connection between corporate cultures and passion respectively which factors support or

inhibit this connection.

Therefore, a new framework was developed. It was based on the notion of individuals as being four­dimensional, i.e. consisting of a mind, soul and spirit (Gordon, 2000). The literature to explain this view did not only support the fact that persons are four-dimensional but also gave indications why organisations/ corporate cultures can to be described as four-dimensional.

This finally led to the creation of a model that combined the findings form the literature on human beings with theories on organisations. It moreover was used to find answers to the final two research questions:

What factors nurture passion in corporate cultures?

What factors inhibit passion in corporate cultures?

What do the findings from the literature review indicate for the research design?

Due to the broadness of the research questions raised through the literature review, it appears important to choose a design that accounts for the diversity and multiple layers of the concept of passion as well as the con­cept of corporate cultures. Moreover, it appears likely that the research will surface very detailed and unique findings, as corporate cultures - like human beings - are never alike. Therefore, it seems useful to employ a qualitative research design.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

3. Research Design

As shown, the investigation of the literature had led to the emergence of the four central research questions, namely: 1) What is the concept of passion? 2) What does the concept of passion relate to in corporate cultures? 3) What factors support passion in corporate cultures? 4) What factors inhibit passion in corporate cultures? The nature of these questions indicated that a rather exploratory and qualitative research design would be needed.

The present chapter aims to provide a detailed description of how this has been achieved. It is divided into six parts. The first one will explain the underlying phenomenology of the study. The second part will present in­ formation about the organisations that were willing to participate in the study. Subsequently, part three will give an in-depth description of the data collection method as well as outline why they were valid and reliable. The fourth part will then shed light on the data collection process. The fifth one will illustrate the data analysis process and the last and final part will portray the limitations of the research.

3.1 Phenomenology

To find answers to the questions raised in the introduction and literature review, a research approach was needed that investigated both the various layers of passion as well as its role and influence in corporate cultures. This seemed best possible by choosing a research design that accounted for the complexity of both concepts. In addition it had to generate sufficient and, more importantly, valid and reliable data to build linkages between both themes. This seemed best possible by employing a case study research design and using multiple, exploratory data collection methods to explore the research questions at hand. The value of choosing a case study approach was that it generally facilitates a more holistic examination of why and how diverse, contemporary phenomena occur in an organisation (Lee, 1999; Yin, 2003). The multiple, explanatory data collection methods supported this process. For, the mixture consisting of preparation materials, interviews and observations allowed for an in-depth investigation of the organisations’ unique passion and/ or culture as well as enabled the extraction of those ele­ments that appear to nurture and/ or block this passion. In sum, it fostered the descriptive nature of the study (Cooper & Schindler, 2003).

The research methodology, which sat within an inductive research framework, was moreover guided by Kvale’s (1996, p. 3) perspective of researcher as “miners”. Accordingly, researchers regard the knowledge of their participants as “buried material” that they unearth (ibid). Furthermore, it was directed from an interpretivism per­spective (Saunders et al., 2003). This perspective complements the philosophy of social constructivism as it ar­ gues that it is necessary to identify complex details and meanings of situations to understand the reality or hidden truth behind it (Remenyi et al., 1998). Hence it is critical of positivism, which adopts the philosophical stance of natural, or physical sciences and can therefore be seen as a method of analysis that draws law-like generalisa­tions (Remenyi et al., 1998; Saunders et al., 2003). The rationale behind interpretivism, on the contrary, is that it is not only important to study an individual’s point of view but to “[.../get closer to the actor’s perspective through detailed interviewing and observation” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p. 10). The use of reflection tools such as critical incidents supports this process since reflection and introspection are fundamental to humans and even tend to be more frequent and intense if people are exposed to unfamiliar or unexpected events such as the participating in a research study (Georges & Jones, 1980). In short, reflection nurtures and deepens research processes and thus allows for the following experience: “The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face”(William M. Thackeray, 1811-1863).

3.2 The cases

In total, seven organisations from various sectors and fields of business were asked to participate in this re­search, out of which two agreed to participate: 1) the Dutch HRD consultancy firm Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company and 2) the German four-star superior hotel Gunnewig Hotel Bristol Bonn.

In the subsequent paragraph, both organisations will not only be introduced but it will also be stated how they were found. First, however, the general selection criteria will be presented and outlined.

3.2.1 Selection criteria

Overall, four selection criteria were employed while searching for suitable organisations that could be in­

cluded in this study. These were:

- The organisation employs more than ten but less than 100 people.
- The organisation allows the researcher to interview and observe a minimum of 20 percent of its work­
- The organisation consents to letting the researcher spend at least seven weeks in the company.
- The organisation agrees to the terms and conditions set in the ethical statement (Appendices A&B)

The criteria were applied for four reasons. Firstly, it is known from Psychology that it takes at least three per­sons to form a ‘system’, as the interaction between two people is often fewer of conflicts. With the appearance of a third or more person(s) however, the dynamics of the interactions change since the new individual(s) bring(s) in new thoughts, ideas, beliefs, etc. This has an influence on the relationship of the people in the system. - It was decided to make use of this notion in the current study. As it was aimed at producing rich data however, it was believed that the investigated systems should not only consist of three but at least ten people. On the other hand, the organisation should not employ more than 100 people so the data collection process could be carried out in the set timeframe.

Secondly, it was aimed to interview and observe at least 20 percent of the workforce to ensure that a multi- facetted picture of the culture of the organisation and its (members’) passion could be drawn. Moreover, the longer a research lasts, the better the understanding of key elements generally becomes. Here it can be useful to have a larger number of participants to become more specific and focused on the phenomena at hand (Yin, 2003).

Thirdly, due to the complexity of the study and the multi-method data collection approach it was vital that the organisations allowed sufficient time to carry out the research. Similarly, it had to agree on the methods used during the data collection.

In addition, it considered to also make ‘passion’ a criterion. However, as the literature review had shown that the concept of passion is not easily tangible, it was not added to the list of main selection criteria. As a side effect, this ensured that the scope of the search was not restricted unnecessarily.

3.2.2 Description of the organisations

For this research, two very different organisations were found. This made the research process both interest­ing and challenging. Since, the companies not only worked in two entirely different fields but were also situated in two different countries.

The following two paragraphs will give a description of both organisations, explain how they were found and introduce the eleven, respectivelyfourteen people interviewed and observed in each of them.

Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company

Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company is a Dutch consulting firm employing over 35 HRD professionals and possesses branches in The Netherlands, Belgium and China. Founded in 1977 by Joseph Kessels and Cora Smit, the organisation has successfully supported individuals as well as national and international businesses with questions regarding learning, development, knowledge productivity, and change for the past thirty years.

The ‘K&Sers’ say about themselves:

“Our work is based on a specific perspective of knowledge and learning which we not only apply to creating tailor-made approaches and instruments for our clients, but also to our own way of working together.

We call ourselves The Learning Company to express that we are a learning organisation that applies the same principles to our own work as those on which we base our advice. Through our collaboration, we want to in­crease the learning capacity and knowledge productivity of our clients. We accomplish this by learning from - and with - both, fellow professionals and clients.”


The collaboration with Kessels & Smit (K&S) followed a request for help in the searching phase for possible case studies. After sending out a letter asking for business contacts, colleagues from the K&S network suggested not to carry out the research with others but within their own company. As K&S fulfilled all of the selection criteria mentioned above, it was agreed to begin with the research process right away.

Hence, the people who had made the suggestion were phoned and thus the first participants were found. At the same time, another letter was mailed to the entire network asking for further volunteers. In the end of the research process at K&S, eleven persons had taken part in the study.[4]

As Table 3.1 shows, the research sample consisted offour females and seven males. Their age ranged from 25 to 57 (mean: 41.3) and their years in the company reached from one to 29 years (mean: 8.9). Moreover, the participants held different statuses. Some had the status of employees, other worked as associates[5] and part­ners, and still others had the status of core entrepreneurs[6]. This was intriguing as it already allowed first clues

about the organisational culture at K&S.

Table 3.1: Overview of the demographics of the participants at K&S

illustration not visible in this excerpt

In addition, the participants had different educational backgrounds. People had degrees in the field of An­ thropology, Education (technology), HRD and Psychology. Finally, their personal backgrounds differed. Less than half of the participants were married and about half of them had children.

In short, the sample differed not only in aspects of gender and age but also, in characteristics relating to their professional and personal life.

Gunnewig Hotel Bristol Bonn The Gunnewig Hotel Bristol Bonn is a German four-star superior hotel with 58 full-time employees and eight apprentices. It is one of thirteen hotels and restaurants all over Germany belonging to the privately owned Gun­ newig group, which has been founded more than fifty years ago.

The Bristol itself was built in 1972 and has been a well-known address in Bonn ever since. It can refer to a long and successful business history and was the residence for political and/ or societal prominence prior to Germany’s reunion. In the past decade, the hotel repeatedly had to face some difficulties however. This was mainly due to the move of the German government to Berlin, the terrorist attacks in September 2001 as well as the introduction of the Euro in 2002.

The Gunnewig Group says about itself:

“Each Gunnewig Hotel & Restaurant is individually managed and has its own unique character and style. We place high emphasis on comfort and ambience as well as on quality and service.

It is not only the personalised service, which distinguishes the Gunnewig Group. We pride ourselves on our ability to take care of you, our guest, in our own special way.”


The cooperation with Hotel Bristol followed a written request addressed to its general manager Mr Wolf Westphal, who happily agreed to engage in the research soon after the request had been posted. In several meetings, the set-up, the timeframe, as well as the number of participants were discussed. In total, fourteen per­ sons approved to participate in the study.[7]

Table 3.2 illustrates that the group of participants consisted of nine women and five men. Their age ranged from 21 to 60 (mean: 36.4) and their years of employment in the company reached from one to 34 years (mean: 10.4). The fourteen participants moreover held very different jobs within Hotel Bristol. While some were employed in so-called ‘service jobs’ (e.g. banquet, kitchen, etc), others worked in so-called ‘office jobs’ (e.g. accounting, banquet office, etc). Thus, like at K&S, the diversity in jobs provided first useful information about the corporate culture of Hotel Bristol.

Table 3.2: Overview of the demographics of the participants at Hotel Bristol

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Their educational background, on the other hand, was similar. Most of them had qualifications in hotel or res­taurant business. Lastly, their personal backgrounds showed that very few of them were married and had chil­dren. Almost all of them were in relationships though.

In sum, the fourteen participants were diverse in age, their years of employment at Hotel Bristol as well as their job in the hotel.

3.3 The mefhocfs

As outlined above, a multi-method, exploratory research design was chosen for this research which con­sisted of a preparatory booklet, semi-structured interviews and observations. In the subsequent paragraph a detailed description of each method is given and its validity and reliability outlined.

3.3.1 Preparatory booklets

To gain a first insight into the organisational culture and the meaning of passion within the organisation, all participants were given a so-called preparatory booklet two weeks prior to their interview. The German version of the booklet for Hotel Bristol and the English version for K&S differed slightly however, as the German words for ‘passion’ (= Leidenschaft) and ‘corporate culture’ (= Unternehmenskultur) are not commonly used in Germany - particularly in the kind of setting the research took place in. Passion was thus changed into the word ‘enthusiasm’ (= Begeisterung/ Enthusiasmus) and corporate culture into ‘the atmosphere or the particular of the organisation’ (= die Atmosphare/ das Besondere am Unternehmen) for the German version of the booklet (Appendices C & D). This led to a minor alteration of the questions in the German booklet too. Those were minimal though. Thus, it can be argued that the essence of both versions of the booklet was identical.

The booklet asked the participants to do two things: 1) to think and write about a critical incident that had af­fected their passion in some way and that they had encountered since their employment in the organisation as well as 2) to (graphically) map the culture of the organisation. To ensure that the obtained data would be valid and reliable, a number of precautions were taken. Firstly, detailed information about the research and its purpose were provided on the first pages of the booklet. Secondly, the participants were guaranteed that all answers would be treated confidentially. Finally, peoples’ answers in the booklet were explored and discussed further in the semi-structured interviews.

3.3.2 Semi-structured interviews

The semi-structured interviews were carried out for two reasons: 1) to gain a better understanding of the par­ticipants’ perspective on passion as well as their organisations and 2) to account for the uniqueness of their pas- sion(s) and the corporate culture(s) they enacted in. For, as outlined in the second chapter, both are not easily to distinguish and characterise.

The data from the booklet functioned as a fundament for all 25 one-hour semi-structured, face-to-face inter­ views. In addition, an interview sheet was designed at first, which contained further questions concerning indi­viduals’ passions and their corporate cultures. After a pilot interview with one of the K&S participants however, the sheet was replaced by a document containing the four research questions only. Since, it was found that each interview would be so individual and unique that a stricter set-up would formalise and restrict the interview proc­ess unnecessarily. On the other hand, mainly working with the four research questions during the interviews al­ lowed for greater flexibility and led to very personal conversations. Thus, the metaphor of the journey (see ethical statements) became true, as literally every interview was like a tour to the participant’s unique frame of reference.

To record the data during the interviews, a digital recording device and note taking were used. By giving all participants an outline of the interview topic and set-up at the commencement of the interview, interviewee or interviewer bias was avoided and the reliability was enhanced. In addition, specific attention was paid to the opening of the interview. For example, the participants were asked to interrupt if they were uncertain about ques- tions or any other aspect of the interview. Furthermore, a variety of techniques were used to ensure the recorded data were valid. These included:

- Asking open, probing as well as closed questions depending on whether the interviewees were re­ quested to describe situations, expand on aspects and confirm/generate certain information.

- Adopting of an active listening approach (i.e. mirroring, paraphrasing, reflecting and non-verbal listening) to ensure the interviewees’ statements were fully grasped and recorded.

- Providing the participants with a summary of the interview (Appendices E & F).

Finally, the data from the interviews were in parts validated by the data collected during the various observa­tion sessions.

3.3.3 Observations

The main reason to carry out observations was to gain first hand insight into the processes and dynamics within K&S and Hotel Bristol, i.e. how employees behave towards each other, how managerial and non- managerial staff behave towards each other or how client/ guest relations are handled. In short, it was observed what the day-to-day atmosphere, tasks and/or interactions were like. For, as chapter two has shown, organisa­tions are living phenomena and become alive through its members (Senge et al., 2005). Hence, careful observa­tions are useful to learn a lot more about the culture of an organisation than reading mission or value statements (Schein, 1992; 1999).

Prior to the observation sessions, consent was obtained not only from the participants but in case of K&S also from their clients. Thus, before observing a situation, it was ensured that everybody agreed to be observed. In addition, a brief introduction of the study was given at the beginning of each observation meeting and it was offered to share the observations with the participants afterwards. This helped to build a trustful and more relaxed atmosphere for all parties.

To record the obtained data, it was first planned to design an observation grid. However, after the pilot inter­ view it was decided to enter the observation sessions with an open mind and not look for any particular behaviour or indicators. Instead notes were taken about the content and processes during the observed situations. This had the advantage that observer bias was avoided, as the notes were given meaning only after the observation had ended. Furthermore reflective conversations were held with the participants and with or without their clients after the observations or, in case of Hotel Bristol, sometimes also during the observation sessions. This enhanced the reliability and validity of the data notably.

3.4 The data collection

As stated repeatedly, the concepts of passion and corporate cultures are unique and individual. This also ex­pressed in the different data collection processes underwent as part of this study. The subsequent two para­ graphs give an outline of this.


[1] The Big Five are: extraversion vs. introversion, conscientiousness vs. undirectedness, agreeableness vs. antagonism emotional stabilityvs. neuroticism, openness vs. closed to experience.

[2] The definitions of the terms motivation and engagement were taken from Oxford Online Dictionary (2006).

[3] Type Z American firms are somewhere in between American and Japanese firms, but they are much nearer to the Japa­nese model (Rollinson et al., 1998).

[4] During the course of the data collection phase at K&S, two more people volunteered to participate in the research. Due to time constraints, their offer had to be declined unfortunately.

[5] Associates are like freelancers. They are self-employed but work under the umbrella of K&S.

[6] The core entrepreneurs hold the main shares at K&S.

[7] Originally, it had been agreed that a number of 15 people would participate in the research. However, as one of the partici­ pants faced personal difficulties at the time, it was mutually decided to exclude him from the study.

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Passion in corporate cultures?! The role of passion in the organisational culture of a Dutch and a German business
A qualitative analysis
University of Twente
Educational Science and Technology/ Human Resource Development
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passion, culture, corporate, dutch, german, business
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Romy Steinhäuser (Author), 2006, Passion in corporate cultures?! The role of passion in the organisational culture of a Dutch and a German business, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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