Creating and Changing Culture For Good

How can deans effectively build culture within institutions often built on long traditions that can be slow to change?
Creating and Changing Culture For Good

Culture represents the behavioral norms and the values they spring from. It is what guides behavior when people are, and more importantly, are not being watched. For organizations, it attracts the types of individuals you want to study at or work for your institution. And, culture is much wider than just the values you express.

These are some of the characteristics of culture shared by Dean Bill Boulding of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Dean Richard Lyons of University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business during Monday’s concurrent session, “Culture Matters and You Own It,” at AACSB’s 2016 Deans Conference in Miami. Discussion around defining, implementing, and sustaining specific values and culture within business schools reflected the insights of attendees representing a diverse sampling of schools, contexts, and experiences. Although opinions varied on the most effective ways for instilling culture into a business school, all the deans in the room recognized the influential power that a school’s culture has on admissions, retention, competitive advantage, and recruitment. But how can deans—leaders of business schools—effectively build culture within institutions often built on long traditions that can be slow to change?

Attendees agreed that transparency and consistency are important for culture change to stick among faculty and students. Business schools also must align with the culture of the universities they find themselves in and take into account the subculture of academe and have strategic relevance. But more importantly, a school’s culture must be deliberate and codified in a way that will help a business school differentiate from its peers and communicate what it stands for to all of its constituents, and it must be ingrained in the actions of its faculty, staff, and students.