Culture Matters: A Board's Insight into Organizational Dynamics

published on 18 January 2024

For board members, understanding the nuances of corporate culture is essential, not just as a peripheral concern, but as a strategic imperative. Culture defines the ethos and operational dynamics of an organization, influencing everything from employee engagement to strategic implementation. The adage, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast," attributed to Peter Drucker, underscores the dominant role culture plays in any organization's success. This essay explores the essence of corporate culture and its significance for boards, with a brief mention of its role in mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

The Essence of Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is the invisible fabric that binds an organization, shaping its identity and operational ethos. It transcends simple definitions like national customs or employee attire, embodying deeper aspects such as the company’s vision, mission, values, management practices, and the collective mindset of its workforce. This culture determines how work is executed, decisions are made, and how employees interact and feel about their work environment.

Culture’s Impact on Strategy and Performance

The interplay between culture and strategy is intricate. A strong, aligned culture can significantly amplify strategic efforts, fostering an environment of high performance, innovation, and adaptability. Conversely, a misaligned or weak culture can undermine even the most well-crafted strategies. For boards, recognizing this interplay is crucial. Strategic decisions must not only be sound in theory but also be feasible within the cultural context of the organization.

Culture in Mergers and Acquisitions

In the realm of M&A, culture plays a pivotal yet often overlooked role. It's reported that a considerable percentage of M&A transactions face challenges or fail due to cultural misalignments. This statistic highlights the necessity for boards to consider cultural compatibility in any M&A activity, ensuring that it supports, rather than hinders, the strategic objectives of such endeavors.

Board’s Role in Cultivating Culture

Understanding that culture can shift over time, boards should be proactive in guiding and supporting this evolution to ensure it remains a positive force in achieving organizational objectives.

·      Setting the Tone: Boards influence culture indirectly through the tone they set at the top. This involves endorsing a culture that aligns with the company’s strategic objectives, ethical standards, and compliance requirements.

·      Oversight of Cultural Alignment: Boards must ensure that the company's culture aligns with its strategy. This includes regular evaluations of the cultural health of the organization and its impact on performance.

·      Cultural Due Diligence in M&A: In M&A scenarios, boards should advocate for thorough cultural assessments. Understanding the cultural dynamics of both entities can forecast potential challenges and facilitate smoother integrations

·      Understanding Culture Dynamics: It's crucial for boards to recognize the difference between the current and the desired culture. Boards should regularly assess if the existing culture aligns with the evolving strategic goals of the company. 


Corporate culture is a critical asset that boards cannot afford to overlook. It is the groundwork upon which strategies are built and executed. As board members, the responsibility extends beyond fiscal oversight to ensuring that the organizational culture aligns with and supports the company's strategic direction. Recognizing the power of culture is not just about mitigating risks; it's about unlocking potential and driving sustainable success.



1. McKinsey & Company. (n.d.). Integrating cultures after a merger: Addressing the unseen forces. Retrieved from [McKinsey & Company](

2. Deloitte. (n.d.). The importance of organizational culture in M&A. Retrieved from [Deloitte](

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