Learn More About Jennifer A. Chatman
Building a company culture that aligns well with your corporate strategy is an indispensable element of fulfilling your objectives. If your culture doesn’t support your strategy, achieving your strategic aspirations may be elusive, says University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business Professor Jennifer A. Chatman, Ph.D.
The world’s top authority on corporate culture and co-developer of the Organizational Culture Profile (OCP), Chatman has been a key voice in outlining what defines an organization’s culture and how to create one that is high performing. A valued advisor to organizations as varied as Genentech, Goldman Sachs, Mars Inc., Sony and the U.S. Treasury, she teaches leaders how to measure and assess the gaps between their organization’s current and strategically needed culture. Her research has shown that organizations that emphasize adaptability first perform better on bottom line financials, showing how essential culture is to success. But, she says, leaders must first understand what corporate culture is and the impact it has on an organization.
“People have so many misconceptions about corporate culture and the role it plays in driving organizational success,” Chatman points out. “Culture is something that you can and should be very, very deliberate about. You don’t have a choice about whether a culture forms, but you do have a choice about influencing its substance and strength, which will have a sustained impact on an organization’s success.”
A born researcher, Chatman has always been curious about social-psychological processes. Her graduate studies and research focused on why people become committed to work, the role work plays in our lives, how people come to fit the culture of their organization, and what leads to people becoming very committed to their work or, on the opposite end, what leads to burnout.
“Very quickly my research helped me understand how and why a company’s culture is incredibly important,” she recounts. “The context of that culture really influences how inspired people are about working in a particular place and how well they understand the strategic priorities. It’s just as important for leaders to be clear about what the collective goals are for the organization.”
Measuring Corporate Culture Quantitatively
Founder of the Berkeley Culture Center, Chatman recognized the need for a systematic method of quantitatively measuring an organization’s culture, which led to the development of the Organizational Culture Profile. Since a company’s culture is completely unique, the OCP uses rigorously collected data to measure and assess the gaps between an organization’s current culture and the culture that would be needed if the organization were fully executing on its strategy.
“By doing this gap analysis,” Chatman explains, “we can really zoom in on where the current culture is falling short from a strategic standpoint.”
Through this meticulous research, Chatman created a three-part framework that helps leaders better understand the finer details of their company’s current culture. Offering a set of key levers for change – among them the signals leaders send to employees and how people are recruited and brought into an organization – the OCP assessment and framework helps increase the probability that new business strategy initiatives will succeed.
The Vital Importance of Good Leadership
The influence of leaders on culture can’t be understated, Chatman emphasizes. She explains that leaders have a stronger impact on corporate culture than they may even realize – for good and for bad. Chatman cautions that the repercussions of a narcissistic leader can last even after they’re no longer with the organization.
“Narcissistic leaders create cultures that are lower in integrity and lower in collaboration, two of the very attributes that organizations need for long-term survival,” she explains. “But worse yet, narcissistic leaders leave a residue on the culture that stays even beyond when they were with a company.”
With tools to quantify how well a person fits within a culture, particularly looking at employees’ desired values versus actual corporate values, Chatman’s research shows that thinking about person-job fit is only part of aligning culture with strategy.
“It’s more than just how well you fit the specific job, it’s about how a person resonates with the broader context of an organization,” she explains. “People who fit better within an organization stay longer, perform better, get promoted faster and are more committed to their work and the company’s overall strategy.”
Jennifer A. Chatman, Ph.D. is the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, the Berkeley Haas Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, the co-founder and co-director of the Berkeley Haas Culture Center, and the editor-in-chief of Research in Organizational Behavior. Her research and expertise have led to advisory work with a variety of organizations including Genentech, Goldman Sachs, Mars Inc., Sony, the U.S. Treasury and many more across public and private industries.
Chatman’s research has appeared in numerous academic journals as well as being highlighted in national and international publications such as The New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and more. She’s also appeared on numerous podcasts and TV and radio programs.
Chatman has won a variety of research and teaching awards including Haas’s Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Academy of Management’s Outstanding Dissertation Award, and multiple Academy of Management best paper awards for her many research publications. She was honored as the Ascendant Scholar by the Western Academy of Management, and she received Best Paper of the Year honors from California Management Review twice (2006 and 2021). She is a member of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Management. Professor Chatman also co-designs and co-hosts the Berkeley Culture Center’s Berkeley Culture Conference each January.
Jennifer A. Chatman is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
University of California, Berkeley Professor Jennifer A. Chatman, Ph.D., is the foremost authority on corporate culture. A key voice in defining organizational culture, Chatman’s research provides powerful and proven tools to assess the gaps between an organization’s culture and its corporate strategy, and reveals the difference between how leaders think they’re doing versus the impact they’re actually having. Working with organizations as varied as Genentech, Goldman Sachs, Mars Inc., Sony and the U.S. Treasury, she provides actionable frameworks to both close the gaps and align culture with strategy, as well as empower leaders to leave a positive impact on an organization. She is available to discuss any or all of the following topics in programs that can be customized to meet the needs and goals of your organization with the added option of meeting virtually or in person.
- Defining and Demystifying Corporate Culture
- The Organizational Culture Profile (OCP) – Assessing Your Organizational Culture
- Closing the Gap Between Strategy and Desired Culture
- Assessing Leadership and Its Impact on Strategy, People, and Culture
- The Danger of Narcissistic Leadership
- Four Levers to Culture Change
- Leading Culture Through Crisis