Three circles model

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The three circle model can be applied to different research approaches and models of organizational culture.

Organizational culture encompasses values and behaviors that "contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business. The organizational culture influences the way people interact, the context within which knowledge is created, the resistance they will have towards certain changes, and ultimately the way they share knowledge. Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members and is a product of factors such as history, product, market, technology, strategy, type of employees, management style, and national culture; culture includes the organization's vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location, beliefs and habits.

This model represents the interaction between the managerial culture, the workplace culture and the surrounding culture.

Culture societys way of life within anthropology

Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. Cultural universals are found in all human societies; these include expressive forms like art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies like tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing. The concept of material culture covers the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization, mythology, philosophy, literature, and science comprise the intangible cultural heritage of a society.

Managerial culture is the values of the management, and its norms, practices and artifacts. The workplace culture is the work and behavior norms as perceived by the workers point of view. The surrounding culture stands for the local norms and practices which characterize a national culture/ religious culture etc. [1]

Artifact (archaeology) Something made by humans and of archaeological interest

An artifact, or artefact, is something made or given shape by humans, such as a tool or a work of art, especially an object of archaeological interest.

The three circles model - Raz 2002 The Three Circles Model Scheme eng.svg
The three circles model - Raz 2002

The diagram presents a partial overlapping between the three circles. One must keep in mind, the relations among the circles are dynamic and their borders depend on the situation being studied. The model is not an area model and doesn't intend to describe certain numeric relations. Its objective is to describe the terms in a schematic manner.

The first circle describes the managerial culture, which is often perceived as the organizational culture.

The common part of circles 1 and 2, designates areas of congruity and acceptance, or "devotion" in management parlance. The second circle also provides room for "countercultures" and for workers' subversion of managerial culture.

The third circle represents the surrounding local culture, whose values, norms, and socialization can influence both acceptance and resistance to the managerial culture. [2]

Socialization lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies

In sociology, socialization is the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society. Socialization encompasses both learning and teaching and is thus "the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained". Socialization is strongly connected to developmental psychology. Humans need social experiences to learn their culture and to survive. Socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children.

The three circles model is connected to some known theories in organizational sociology: [1]

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Safety culture The attitude, beliefs, perceptions and values that employees share in relation to risks in the workplace

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Counterproductive norms are group norms that prevent a group, organization, or other collective entities from performing or accomplishing its originally stated function by working oppositely to how they were initially intended. Group norms are typically enforced to facilitate group survival, to make group member behaviour predictable, to help avoid embarrassing interpersonal interactions, or to clarify distinctive aspects of the group’s identity. Counterproductive norms exist despite the fact that they cause opposite outcomes of the intended prosocial functions.

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Edgar Schein's model for describing and measuring organizational culture is a well known model which is used by organizational consultants. The model was published by Schein in the 1980s. However, it had some uncertain aspects, which inspired Aviad Raz to publish the Raz update of Schein's organizational culture model in 2006.

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to social science:


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Information culture

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Strategic decisions are the resolutions which concern the environment in which a firm operates, the resources and the people who form the firm, and the interaction between these. Cultural logic refers to the understanding of a culture’s fundamental beliefs, the ways that those beliefs interact with each other by generating new information, and with the perceived desirability of alternative actions. This is how people from diverse cultures interact and are understood by these certain activities. Persuasive communication is one of many useful behavioral strategies people when they wish to impact people from different cultures. In terms of strategic decisions, these can be influenced by multiple factors and variables according to one's culture, due to distinct ways to transmit ideas and interpreting messages. Therefore, its formulation and implementation will differ from one to another. Norms, values, and premises reflect in the informal system that emerge with the company as it expands. They are reflected as well in the arrangements of the organization which include formal management systems and policies that justify events and situations.


  1. 1 2 Organizational culture, Aviad Raz, The Open University of Israel 2004
  2. Emotions at work, Aviad E. Raz , Harvard University Press 2002