budget. Morale had also greatly improved. Daniels had succeeded in drastically changing the plant's culture and, in the process, had achieved impressive gains in performance.
Organizations have always had cultures, and some managers have probably always been astute enough to figure out how to manage them, as this case illustrates. Systematic research on the cultures of work organizations and how they might be managed to enhance performance and productivity, however, was not pursued with any frequency until the 1980s. A number of popular management books published at that time called attention to cultural issues in the management of organizations (Ouchi, 1981; Pascale and Athos, 1981; Peters and Waterman, 1982; Deal and Kennedy, 1982). The general theme of these books was that managers can shape the cultures of the organizations they manage in ways that enhance performance and productivity. Each organization, it was suggested, could develop a distinctive culture with the enlightened guidance of management. The appearance of these volumes and the competitive threat posed by Japanese organizations that was evident at that time awakened substantial interest in the cultures of work organizations within the management community. Another example (Wilmer et al., 1994) comes from the automobile industry:
In 1984, when GM and Toyota formed the NUMMI joint venture, they undertook a dramatic cultural transformation of what had been one of the worst GM plants in the U.S. Union-management conflict had raged for 20 years resulting in strikes, absenteeism, and low productivity and quality. The original intent was simply to adopt and learn Toyota's highly successful production system. But because the Japanese production system depended on positive relations between management and labor, many Japanese management principles and practices were also adopted and gradually modified to fit the American work force. These changes gave rise to a new culture that fostered trust, mutual respect, and the recognition of the interdependencies between management and labor and between different parts of the plant. Employees and management ate together in a communal cafeteria; there were no reserved parking places; offices were open. Work charts, attendance boards, and defect records hung on the wall in work team areas. Consensual decision making became the norm. By the late 1980s, the Japanese had scaled back their presence at the plant, but the original U.S. management team remained almost intact. NUMMI continued to be both efficient and to have high-quality, producing the same number of cars as GM did in the same plant in the past with much higher quality and half the work force. In May of 1994 its Geo Prizm won the highest quality score ever attained by a U.S.-made vehicle.
From these and other cases, it became clear that cultural factors play an important role in organizational performance, but there was a dearth of systematic knowledge on which to base interventions into organizational cultures. Academic researchers found the popular treatments of culture too