Levels of Culture

According to Edgard Schein, one of the reasons we have difficulty facilitating learning within an organisation is because we do not properly understand the levels of culture within each learning group. As managers we must have a firm grasp on what it means to be exposed to the different types of workplace cultures so that we can effectively work within them.

Schein proposed that there are three levels of cultures:

• Artifacts

• Espoused Values

• Basic Assumptions of Values


Artifacts refer to things we can see with our own eyes. They include the way people dress, the way they organise their desks, and anything else you can visualise but not necessarily understand.


Espoused values include decisions we and our employees make consciously. They include our corporate philosophies, our personal and group goals, and even the strategies we devise to meet those goals.

The theory behind basic assumptions and values is that there are dozens of things we take for granted each day. This includes the way you perceive your fellow teammates or employees, what you assume their thoughts and feelings may be on any given subject, and anything else that you might guess about but really can’t know unless you ask.

These three main levels make up the corporate culture and aren’t nearly as cut and dry as they seem. On the upside, once you understand exactly how the people within your organisation think and behave you’ll find that developing a learning process will be a much simpler task.

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 6 November, 2008

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