Organisational culture is a product of decisions by, and interactions between, multiple ‘actors’ over many years. Actors include individual employees, work teams and their supervisors, leaders and other influencers, e.g. a company founder or major investor. Other actors are inanimate, for example organisational policies and processes, though these bear the hallmarks of the people who created them.
Culture evolves as actors come and go, and as the organisation adapts to changes in its external environment. Culture becomes embedded within an organisation when certain ways of doing things are found to bring success.
It helps to think of these as organisational habits. Just like personal habits these can be incredibly useful to us, for example as ‘rules of thumb’ for decision-making. The problem is, of course, that they are resistant to change, even when it’s obvious that they no longer contribute to our, or our organisation’s, well-being.