Amazon’s Organizational Culture Characteristics (An Analysis)

Amazon organizational culture, corporate business culture, e-commerce company work, workplace cultural values analysis case study
Ashton Carter, left, meets with service members in an exchange program with Amazon in Seattle on March 3, 2016. Inc.’s organizational culture (business culture) promotes risk-taking and unconventional human resources in the e-commerce business workplace. (Photo: Public Domain)

Amazon has an organizational culture that enables business capacity for responding to opportunities in the e-commerce market. A company’s organizational or corporate culture sets the traditions and values that influence employees’ behaviors. For example, Amazon’s corporate culture pushes employees to go beyond traditional limits and conventions to develop bright ideas and solutions. As the world’s top-performing online retailer, the company continues to seek fresh talent. However, to maintain a capable workforce, Amazon must reinforce its organizational culture to shape the development of human resources for long-term competitive advantage. The business culture facilitates knowledge-sharing to keep the technology company’s human resources competitive in the face of rapid innovation in the industry.

Amazon’s organizational culture is seen as a critical factor in the success of the online retail business. The corresponding cultural characteristics define the capabilities of Amazon’s human resources and, in turn, the e-commerce organization. This link to business capability indicates that the company culture reinforces the competitive advantages described in the SWOT analysis of Amazon. Through its influence on the workforce, the business culture keeps the company competitive against other technology firms, like Google (Alphabet), Apple, and Microsoft, as well as retailers, such as Walmart and Costco. Thus, Amazon’s work culture supports market positioning, competitive advantages, and financial performance.

Features of Amazon’s Organizational Culture

Amazon is known for a corporate culture that pushes employees to explore ideas and take risks. This cultural condition is responsible for the company’s capacity to seek new opportunities to utilize data-intensive processes to provide efficient online services. Amazon states that it is a company of pioneers that make bold bets and invent on behalf of customers, focusing on success based on what is possible. This statement shows that Amazon’s organizational culture has the following characteristics:

  1. Boldness
  2. Customer-centricity
  3. Peculiarity

Boldness. Amazon promotes boldness among its workers. This characteristic of the corporate culture is seen in how the company pioneered to sell a wide array of items online, initially starting with books, through data-intensive information technology. Also, Amazon’s employees are encouraged to take risks, such as in considering new ideas to do business. In emphasizing boldness, the company also facilitates openness toward new ideas based on an organizational diversity policy. This feature of the organizational culture enables Amazon to identify the best possible ideas to solve problems or improve the e-commerce business. Boldness supports innovation, which is a factor in the product-development goals described in Amazon’s generic competitive strategy and intensive growth strategies. Thus, this work culture strengthens the company’s competitiveness in the international market for consumer electronics and online services.

Customer-Centricity. Amazon’s mission statement and vision statement highlight the centrality of customers in the business, and the significance of management support for employees’ ability to provide high-quality service to customers. This factor is also included in the company’s organizational culture. For example, Amazon encourages workers’ focus on customers’ needs and preferences. The company continually strives to determine trends and changes in consumer demand and preferences and applies these changes in its online retail and related services. Through this characteristic of the corporate culture, Amazon maintains its effectiveness in satisfying customers as the e-commerce business expands.

Peculiarity. Amazon’s organizational culture also involves peculiarity. This cultural characteristic refers to the idea of challenging conventions. For example, Amazon motivates its employees to view themselves and their work as different from conventional ways of doing business. The company believes that conventions impose limits on potential business growth. Thus, through this feature of its workplace culture, Amazon motivates employees to think outside the box to bring the e-commerce business to its maximum potential.

Amazon’s Culture: Implications, Advantages & Disadvantages

Amazon’s corporate culture reinforces the company’s pioneering efforts in its online business, as espoused in the vision of Jeff Bezos. The firm’s cultural characteristics have the advantage of supporting innovation. For example, boldness and peculiarity promote new ideas to improve Amazon’s information technology and online service business. Another advantage of this organizational culture is its focus on the customer, ensuring that the company satisfies consumer expectations and preferences. These traits of the company culture promote human resource development necessary for protecting the business against the effects of the tough competition described in the Five Forces analysis of Amazon. The business culture supports the organizational development of the e-commerce company and its subsidiary, Whole Foods. However, a disadvantage of Amazon’s organizational culture is that it imposes a strain on human resources, especially in pushing employees to take a bold, peculiar, and non-conventional approach to doing their jobs.