Organizational cultures of libraries as a strategic resource

Michelle L. Kaarst-Brown, Scott Nicholson, Gisela M. Von Dran, Jeffrey M. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


THEORISTS HAVE SUGGESTED THAT ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE is a strategic resource that has value in ensuring the continuing existence and success of organizations (Michalisin, Smith, & Kline, 1997; Barney, 1986, 1991; Hult, Ketchen, & Nichols, 2002; Gordon, 1985). This assertion is supported by various studies that have linked organizational culture to broad strategic outcomes such as an organization's ability to manage knowledge (Davenport, Long, & Beers, 1998; Storck & Hill, 2000), innovation capability (Hauser, 1998), and strategic management of information technology (Kaarst-Brown & Robey, 1999; Reich & Benbasat, 2000; Schein, 1985). Based on this research, we suggest that there are characteristics of organizational cultures in information-based organizations that lead to increased collaboration, collegiality, and organizational effectiveness. The present article explores these characteristics and examines whether organizational culture can be leveraged as a strategic asset to attract staff, create favorable assessments by administrators and funders, and cast library institutions in a positive light for independent media and accreditation bodies. We believe that identification of those characteristics of organizational cultures that are uniquely relevant to the growth and success of libraries can provide current and future library leaders with guidance, models, and intellectual resources to enhance personal and organizational success. To begin, we provide an overview of the concept of organizational culture, before exploring in more detail the competing values framework (CVF) as a lens though which to view library cultures. We then apply the key characteristics of the CVF to four prototypical library settings, before presenting our conclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-53
Number of pages21
JournalLibrary Trends
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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