Strategically crafting a customer-focused culture: an inductive case study

Robert C. Ford, Celeste P.M. Wilderom*, John Caparella

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    100 Citations (Scopus)
    1 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show how the content of a firm's culture, carefully developed by top managers, can create effective employee experiences and how this exemplary case of strategic culture shaping relate to various academic insights on intangible social or collaborative capital. Design/methodology/approach – Inductive case study (of a large American convention hotel), highlighting the strategic crafting of a service-firm culture, both descriptively (in terms of what took place) and analytically (in terms of various OB-literatures). Findings – Describes how organizational culture can be part of strategizing in terms of aligning cultural expressions regarding various employees' practices, including continuous organizational improvement. Analyzes and integrates various extant culture insights on service cultures and culture strength. Research limitations/implications – Insights are applicable to a wide variety of work settings beyond the hospitality and service sectors; it expands the view of organizational culture to the broader and more complex, strategic issue of how organizations can craft or amend cultures that fit their missions. Practical implications – One may learn from this case (including the authors' reflections), how to put a well-articulated service mission into operational practice: through taking a particular, desired culture quite seriously when creating employee experiences, so that they are effectively focused on that mission. Originality/value – The paper illustrates specific tactics for implementing culture plus the value of developing a strategic approach to creating a particular culture. It offers a template of crafting a culture, based on the strategic pairing of managerial mission with action (or employee and client experiences). Strategizing with culture, also referred to as firm-cultural content shaping, is meant for researchers and practitioners seeking to help develop a mission-focused organizational culture.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)143-167
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of strategy and management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2008


    • Customer orientation
    • Hotels
    • Organizational culture
    • Service levels


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