Company Culture: Case Study of DEC and Ciba-Geigy


Company culture is the foundation of an organization, which determines its status and performance. It is a cornerstone in such areas as management, organizational behavior, sociology, psychology, cultural studies. From the point of view of application in management, cultures can be considered from two levels of organization. On the one hand, these are external elements of culture, visible to each client or customer. These include clothing, symbols, and work environments. On the other hand, corporate culture reflects the internal philosophy of management and employees (Ilham, 2018). In the case of the two companies Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and Ciba-Geigy, fundamentally different cultural values are presented.

Differences between DEC and Ciba-Geigy

First of all, the main difference between companies lies in the organizational structure. In the case of DEC, management has opted for an informal culture that provides employees with considerable freedom. In an organization it is difficult or almost impossible to track the status of a particular employee. Moreover, everyone eats in one place, talks to each other, and higher-ranking employees do not have privileges over others. At the same time, Ciba-Geigy is characterized by a strict hierarchical system. There are several canteens in the corporation where employees of different ranks dine, and this best shows their separation. The status and remuneration of an employee is determined by his experience, the amount of work and the level of knowledge (Schein, 2016). The salary of employees in DEC is formed not by work experience and experience, but by employment on a specific project.

Secondly, organizations have different attitudes towards formal and informal settings. DEC is distinguished by a free atmosphere that does not limit employees in self-expression. They do not have a strict form, there are practically no doors, so that everyone can observe the free space. However, such a format is alien to Ciba-Geigy, which is defined not only by a strict hierarchy, but by a demanding formality. Employees are dressed a certain way and everyone’s working space is limited (Schein, 2016). Workers can set color codes for when they are ready to answer questions and when they are busy with work.

Finally, companies take a different approach with regard to meetings and discussions. For DEC, this is the core of the corporate culture, where meetings are held often and for a long time. Each employee can express his opinion and argue with the boss, which completely erases status boundaries. In this matter, Ciba-Geigy establishes the peremptory authority of the boss, who sets the tasks and does not tolerate such bickering (Schein, 2016). Moreover, organizations look at the area of responsibility differently. DEC operates with the opinion that the employee who proposed the idea is responsible for its implementation. At the same time, Ciba-Geigy sets strict rules and instructions come from managers and directors.

Connection with Technology, Location and Size

These differences are based on the specifics of the companies and their product areas. DEC has more creativity as it is involved in the production of computers. Engineers and technologists establish and implement certain ideas that can be discussed during the development process (Schein, 2016). Their job is to create a new product, which is defined by its power and technical equipment. The production of Ciba-Geigy consists in working with pharmaceuticals, dyes and chemicals according to certain technologies and plans. From this point of view, their structural organization should be more precise and verified. The specificity of their work is based on the interaction with hazardous substances and does not require a large creative process.

Thus, the view of responsibility in these two organizations is closely related to technology. The production of computers is tied to the proposal and development of fundamentally new ways and means of organization. While working with chemicals presents a clear distribution of responsible persons, as it is considered as a potentially hazardous activity. From the point of view of the location of companies, the hierarchical structure can be attributed to the location. Switzerland and Germany are distinguished by a stricter and structural division due to the cultural aspect of the countries (Schein, 2016). However, the American company DEK is defined by a free and informal aspect due to the country’s beliefs about the self-expression of every citizen. The authority of the Ciba-Geigy directorate can be measured by age, size and history. Despite the large size of the organization, its history is not as extensive as the history of DEC. Furthermore, it is essential for the company to gain a foothold in the market through the organization of work and compliance with the rules. However, DEC has a longer history and has been a tech giant in the computer manufacturing market for a long time.


In conclusion, it must be said that both companies have a fundamentally different approach to organizing culture. As for me, I don’t think I would be a good fit for Ciba-Geigy. To my mind, working in a company with such a strict hierarchy can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable. At the same time, I could see myself as a DEK employee due to creative freedom and lack of ranks. An employee feels much better if he can communicate with superior colleagues without thinking about their status.


Ilham, R. (2018). The impact of organizational culture and leadership style on job satisfaction and employee performance. Journal of Advanced Management Science, 6(1), 50-53.

Schein, E. H. (2016). Organizational culture and leadership (5th ed.). Wiley.

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