An organizational culture for excellence in service: fostering favorable conditions for tailoring, improvisation, and judgement through a system of six sets of practices
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- Master of Science 
A growing body of theory and research applies a cultural perspective to the description of organizational phenomena. We have designed the multiple case study in this thesis report to contribute to this line of research by examining how the relationship between organizational culture and excellence in service can be understood. Due to the human intensive setting, a service organization has unpredictability at its core. Accordingly, we define excellence in service as favorable tailoring, and successful use of improvisation and judgement. Through in-depth interviews and observations, we located practices of an organizational culture that enable these behaviors. Our findings suggest that six sets of practices are vital in understanding the relationship between organizational culture and excellence in service. These practices are: We Focus on the Silver Lining: A Positive Mindset; We’ve got Each Other’s Backs: Physical and Psychological Support; We Laugh a lot Together: Humor as a Nourishment and Coping Mechanism; We Allow Tension to run High: Addressing Conflicts Constructively; We’re Truly Present – in Body, Mind, and Heart: Physical and Psychological Presence; and We’re Like Pieces in a Puzzle: A Sense of Belonging and Contributing to Something Larger than Self. In isolation, the practices foster distinct key enablers in each of the organizations that create favorable conditions for excellence in service, namely learning, collaboration, and safety. Learning enables advantageous judgment by expanding employees’ knowledge base. Collaboration ensures more successful tailoring, as it provides a larger pool of personal and professional skills to draw upon. Safety triggers improvisation by creating a secure environment where organizational members can try out new ways to solve their tasks. By not identifying a sole mechanism, but six sets of practices that enable tailoring, improvisation, and judgement, we acknowledge that the practices work as a system. Each practice has positive spin-off effects on the others, and this interconnectedness reinforces and sustains the impact of organizational culture on excellence in service.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Business, Leadership and Change - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2017