Apple Inc. Organizational Culture: Features & Implications

Apple Inc organizational culture case study analysis characteristics, features, elements, advantages, disadvantages and issues
Apple products used in an office. Apple Inc’s organizational culture empowers the firm to continue in its success path, although this organizational culture also presents some challenges. (Photo: Public Domain)

Apple’s organizational culture is a key factor in the company’s success. A company’s organizational culture determines capabilities in supporting changes, new policies and new strategies. In Apple’s case, employees are effectively developed and integrated into an organizational culture that facilitates rapid innovation. Such innovation is observable in terms of products like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. While the company’s organizational culture generally contributes to business strengths, it also imposes limits and challenges to the firm. Nonetheless, Apple has been gradually fine-tuning its organizational culture to properly match the dynamics of its business environment.

Apple’s organizational culture has the necessary characteristics to ensure the company’s leading position in the market. However, this organizational culture also presents some challenges to Apple in optimizing its human resources.

Features of Apple’s Organizational Culture

Apple’s organizational culture is effective in supporting the firm’s leadership because of key features that fit the business. Different businesses have different requirements for their culture. In Apple’s case, the following characteristics are the most significant in its organizational culture:

  1. Top-notch excellence
  2. Creativity
  3. Innovation
  4. Secrecy
  5. Moderate combativeness

Top-notch excellence. Apple’s organizational culture involves a policy of selecting only the best of the best workers. Steve Jobs was known to readily fire employees who did not meet his expectations. This tradition in Apple’s organizational culture continues under Tim Cook. Excellence is emphasized as a critical success factor in the business, especially in product design and development.

Creativity. Apple employees are selected for their knowledge, skills, and creative abilities. The firm’s organizational culture highlights the importance of creativity. Employees involved in product design and development processes are especially creative. This characteristic of Apple’s organizational culture helps the firm maintain the capacity to develop solutions to business needs and consumer needs.

Innovation. Apple’s organizational culture is also highly innovative. In fact, Apple is frequently appraised as one of the most innovative companies in the world. All employees are trained and encouraged to innovate in terms of individual work performance and by contributing ideas to the firm’s product development processes. Apple’s organizational culture succeeds in facilitating rapid innovation, which is at the heart of the business.

Secrecy. Steve Jobs developed Apple to have an organizational culture of secrecy. This secrecy is part of the company’s strategy to minimize theft of proprietary information or intellectual property. Upon hiring, Apple employees agree to this organizational culture of secrecy, which is reflected in the firm’s policies, rules and employment contracts. This aspect of Apple’s organizational culture helps protect the business from corporate espionage and the negative effects of employee poaching.

Moderate Combativeness. Apple’s organizational culture has moderate combativeness. This feature is linked to Steve Jobs and his combative approach to leadership. He was known to randomly challenge employees to ensure that they have what it takes to work at Apple. However, under Tim Cook’s leadership, the company has been changing its organizational culture to a more sociable and less combative one. Thus, Apple’s organizational culture now has a moderate degree of combativeness.

Implications of Apple’s Organizational Culture

Advantages and Benefits. The combination of top-notch excellence, creativity and innovation in Apple’s organizational culture supports the firm’s industry leadership. These characteristics of human resources empower Apple to stand out and stay ahead of competitors. These features of the company’s organizational culture are key factors that enable success and competitive advantage. Creativity and excellence are especially important in Apple’s rapid innovation processes.

Drawbacks and Weaknesses. Apple’s organizational culture brings challenges because of the emphasis on secrecy and the moderate degree of combativeness. An atmosphere of secrecy limits rapport among workers. Also, the moderate combativeness that still exists in the firm today has the disadvantage of limiting the morale of some employees. These issues indicate that Apple’s organizational culture has room for major improvements to strengthen the firm’s human resource capabilities.

References
  • Apple Inc. Form 10-K, 2014.
  • Apple Info.
  • Backer, L. C. (2013). Transnational Corporations’ Outward Expression of Inward Self-Constitution: The Enforcement of Human Rights by Apple, Inc. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies20, 805-1445.
  • Barney, J. B. (1986). Organizational culture: can it be a source of sustained competitive advantage? Academy of Management Review11(3), 656-665.
  • Fogliasso, C. E., & Williams, A. (2014). Analysis Of The Business, Societal And Governmental Relationships Of Apple Inc. Leadership & Organizational Management Journal2014(1), 161-175.
  • O’Reilly, C. A., Chatman, J., & Caldwell, D. F. (1991). People and organizational culture: A profile comparison approach to assessing person-organization fit. Academy of management journal34(3), 487-516.
  • Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership (Vol. 2). John Wiley & Sons.
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