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South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences

versão On-line ISSN 2222-3436
versão impressa ISSN 1015-8812

S. Afr. j. econ. manag. sci. vol.21 no.1 Pretoria  2018 



Bibliometric analysis of organisational culture using CiteSpace



Yi Cui; Yanping Liu; Jian Mou

School of Economics and Management, Xidian University, China





BACKGROUND: As organisational culture plays an important role in forming a sustained competitive advantage, numerous studies about organisational culture have been completed. However, few studies have been conducted by analysing the references of publications with a visual pattern. Moreover, this subject has reached a certain degree of maturity; hence, a review that analyses the trends of organisational culture is urgent.
AIM: The aim of this study was to provide broad information on organisational culture, including authors, journals, countries and references. In addition, the evolution of organisational culture is depicted and potential future research focuses are predicted.
SETTING: Using the Web of Science as a data source, we captured 1479 publications in science citation index (SCI) and social science citation index (SSCI) from 2005 to 2016 with 63 682 corresponding references for analysis.
METHODS: A bibliometric approach using CiteSpace software was applied to quantitatively and visually analyse organisational culture.
RESULTS: 1) The USA is the most productive country followed by the UK and then Australia in terms of publication; (2) scholars are mainly focused on 'performance', 'innovation' and 'knowledge management' aspects; (3) most fundamental theories and frameworks were created from the 1980s to the 1990s; (4) the Journal of Business Ethics is the most appropriate journal for contributions, whereas the Academy of Management Review is suitable for scholars to do a literature review, construct a theoretical framework and develop a research design; and (5) future research on this field has been justified accordingly.
CONCLUSION: These findings not only provide basic background knowledge about organisational culture for new researchers but also provide a framework for visual and quantitative research to management scholars and fill the gap between organisational culture and bibliometric analysis.




Thirty-five years ago, a focus on the enterprise competition model of the USA and Japan arose, which led to fervent research and even a revolution in management concepts, eventually resulting in a new management trend called 'organisational culture'. The USA had been a global leader in management theories and institutional research in the field with the classic rational management style of the 1970s and 1980s until the US economic recession; in the meantime, the prominence of the Japanese economy challenged the USA and even all Western countries (Pascale & Athos 1982). So, the mechanisms of organisational management that compelled opposite developmental roads in American and Japanese economies became a concern for American managerial scholars and corporate managers. Pascale and Athos (1982) found the crucial elements generating this difference between American and Japanese companies in their study of Japanese management. Apart from the rigid management methods and institutions of the classic American style, Japanese companies paid more attention to flexible spiritual factors and long-term collective value (Pascale & Athos 1982). Meanwhile, Japanese companies established organisational cultures that facilitated business innovations and also integrated value and psychological factors. In general, the success of Japanese companies in organisational performance and competitive advantage surpassed even the USA (Pascale & Athos 1982). This trend highlighted the significance of organisational culture, called for the re-examining of corporate soft factors and also emphasised the influence of soft factors on corporate development. Nowadays, organisational culture is treated as the key factor for business success and it has been empirically verified to promote organisational effectiveness (Gregory et al. 2009), organisational innovation (Hogan & Coote 2013), organisational identity (Ravasi & Schultz 2006) and organisational performance (Gregory et al. 2009).

Currently, organisational culture is thought to be a crucial factor associated with innovation in business success, especially in the context of the knowledge economy (Büschgens, Bausch & Balkin 2013). Although organisational culture has been well studied and has become a mature branch of management science, few studies have been conducted in this field using quantitative and visualised bibliometrics to analyse references instead of original papers. Hence, we use a quantitative method instead of the traditional citation counts and personal, qualitative, narrative-based method to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the evolution and development of organisational culture. Moreover, organisational culture has reached a certain degree of maturity, where it is now treated as an exclusive field of study; therefore, identifying new potential future trends is urgent. As organisational culture in practice and academia has become so significant, a deep analysis of the implications, hot topics and research directions of this term is necessary. This paper uses a bibliometrics method through CiteSpace to provide an overview of the studies in the organisational culture field. Apart from the historical development of organisational culture in the next section, growth trends, core authors, top journals, countries, institutions and important reference articles are shown. Based on these results, future trends are predicted. Altogether, this paper not only supplies basic background knowledge about organisational culture for new researchers but also provides a framework of visual and quantitative research for management scholars and fills the gap between organisational culture and bibliometric analysis. In addition, compared to other methods of research in this field, such as systematic literature review and meta-analytic review, our study has three advantages over others. Firstly, the results displayed in tables and figures are easier for researchers to understand. Secondly, CiteSpace provides broad analytic information, such as author, institution, country and reference, rather than just analysing the contents of publications on organisational culture. Thirdly, potential future trends do not focus on just one aspect through statistical analysis, which may help researchers in different areas to extend their research and help practitioners understand whether their business challenge is related to organisational culture.

This paper begins with a brief overview of the development of organisational culture and is then followed by the information about the tool used for the analysis (CiteSpace) and the searching procedure. Next, the results of citing papers (i.e. papers searched in this study) and cited papers (i.e. references of searched papers in this study) are displayed. The last section of this paper concludes with the findings in the research, represents practical and methodological contributions, and demonstrates some limitations.


Theory and literature

The concept of organisational culture was initiated in cultural anthropology and has been widely applied in the study of organisational behaviours, management and marketing (Gregory et al. 2009; Schein 1992). Organisational culture is defined as a set of values, beliefs, assumptions and symbols that is shared by all members and that directs their decisions and organisational behaviours (Schein 1985). Although this term appeared in the early 1970s, it was not analysed or adopted by management scholars until the 1980s (Hatch 1993). Because of diversity of the researchers' backgrounds and the notability of this popular topic in management, hundreds of definitions were constructed. Organisational culture could refer to, for instance, group norm (Kilmann, Saxton & Serpa 1987), organisational climate (Schneider, Brief & Guzzo 1996), ideology (Goll & Sanbharya 1990), shared beliefs (Lorsch 1985), mental mode (Hofstede 1998), basic assumptions (Schein 1985), organisational strategies (Weich 1985) and organisational symbols (Pettigrew 1979). In the early 1980s, four masterpieces associated with organisational culture made waves in management academia in the USA: Theory Z by Ouchi (1981), Corporate Culture by Deal and Kennedy (1982), The Art of Japanese Management by Pascale and Athos (1982) and In Search of Excellence by Peters and Waterman (1984). These four publications enlightened organisational culture and pushed it towards a higher theoretical and practical level.

In the 1980s, academics were mainly focusing on the definition, connotation, structural elements and type classification of organisational culture, and most of these studies were qualitative. Even though the definitions and connotations of organisational culture could not reach a consensus at that time, Schein's idea and theory were representative ones in academia to some extent. Schein (1992) shaped organisational culture in his book Organisational Culture and Leadership. He explained it as the norms of expected behaviour that employees would follow, provided by organisational values and beliefs; moreover, it was a very important and invisible social force. The original text of Schein's (2004) book defined organisational culture as:

the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to these problems. (p. 17)

According to Schein's (1985) model of organisational culture, three layers of culture were constructed, which were artefacts, values and basic assumptions from outer to inner levels. Further, Schein (2004) investigated these three levels by the degree of visibility to observers. Schein's (1985) model of organisational culture made him particularly influential, as he articulated and provided a qualitative framework for analysing and intervening in culture management fields. There was no doubt that Schein laid the basis for organisational culture models and qualitative research, and he believed that it was the subconscious that formed the most invisible layer, which would make it difficult to measure; hence, organisational culture investigations should mainly depend on qualitative research.

However, in the 1990s, quantitative studies gradually permeated this new management field despite many still agreeing with Schein's idea that quantitative investigations made no contribution to the understanding of culture at a deep level. Scholars constructed a quantitative index system from diversified dimensions that could better interpret the relationship between organisational culture and corporate outputs, such as business performance (O'Reilly et al. 2014), employee satisfaction (Gillespie et al. 2008) and innovation ability (Tellis, Prabhu & Chandy 2013). Quantitative studies of organisational culture from O'Reilly, Chatman and Caldwell (1991), Hofstede (1998), Cameron and Quinn (1998) and Denison and Mishra (1995) were typically representative. O'Reilly et al. (1991) used the Q-sort method on 54 value indicators acquired from the existing literature to develop an 'organisational culture profile' (OCP). Seven dimensions, which were innovation, outcome orientation, respect for people, team orientation, stability, aggressiveness and attention to detail, and 54 items were covered in the OCP scale to measure the fitness of person-organisation (O'Reilly et al. 1991). Hofstede (1998) was the academic authority on cross-culture management, and he proposed the Multidimensional Model of Organisational Culture, which consists of the following scales: process oriented to results oriented, employee oriented to job oriented, parochial to professional, open system to closed system, loose control to tight control and normative to pragmatic. The Competing Values Framework (CVF) was built by Quinn and Spreitzer (1991) as a two-dimensional framework in which the dimensions were structure and focus. These two dimensions separated organisational culture into four types, flexible external focus, control external focus, flexible internal focus and control internal focus, represented by adhocracy, market, clan and hierarchy types, respectively. Recently, Kokt and Merwe (2011) have applied CVF as a quantitatively diagnostic tool in a leading private security company to investigate the organisational culture type; furthermore, according to the statistical results, they have offered some recommendations to balance the organisational culture orientations to help corporate future development. Based on CVF, the Organisational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) was published by Cameron and Quinn (1998). This instrument contains six dimensions that are dominant characteristics, organisational leadership, management of employees, organisational glue, strategic emphases and criteria of success (Cameron & Quinn 1998). The 'Denison Organisational Culture Survey' (DOCS) was also based on CVF; however, using grounded theory on five organisations and Chief Executive Officers from 764 organisations as samples, Denison constructed a 'Theoretical Model of Culture Traits' (TMCT). Akin to CVF, TMCT contains four cultural traits: adaptability, mission, consistency and involvement (Denison & Mishra 1995); additionally, each trait includes three sub-dimensions to make a total of 12 dimensions (Fey & Denison 2003).

Organisational culture could be a source of sustained competitive advantage (Barney 1986), and a large number of empirical research about organisational facilitation of employee retention (Sheridan 1992), knowledge management (Alavi & Leidner 2006), effectiveness (Denison & Mishra 1995; Fey & Denison 2003; Gregory et al. 2009), innovation (Büschgens et al. 2013), creative output (Kessel, Oerlemans & Stroe-Biezen 2014) and performance (Hogan & Coote 2013) were mainly documented. Barney claimed that to achieve these beneficial attributes in terms of sustained competitive advantages, organisational culture must meet three conditions: be valuable, rare and difficult to imitate (Barney 1986). Several important functions of organisational culture were identified. Firstly, organisational culture can serve as a source of distinctions among organisations and can transmit a perception of identity for organisation members (Ravasi & Schultz 2006). Secondly, it can promote the generation of commitment (Peters & Waterman 1984). Thirdly, it can strengthen the stability and consistency of the organisation (Louis 1980). Finally, it can manage the behaviours of the members of the organisation by shaping their shared values and beliefs (Schein 1992). Hence, a large amount of empirical evidence suggests that there are positive correlations between organisational culture and market performance (Homburg & Pflesser 2000), financial performance (Homburg & Pflesser 2000), employee attitudes (Gregory et al. 2009), knowledge management and organisational effectiveness (Zheng, Yang & Mclean 2010). Because organisational culture has some specific characteristics such as being mostly invisible and hard to quantify, as well as creativity or uniqueness, and because of the width and depth of the research perspectives, there is no doubt that quantitative research cannot substitute for qualitative research. Therefore, we believe that the integration of both methods can foster high-level achievements.


Methodology and data

Bibliometrics is a statistical analysis of extant literature and is used to provide quantitative analysis of publications in a given field (Mayr & Scharnhorst 2014). The main categories of information analysed with respect to bibliometrics are the authors, keywords, references, journals, countries, institutions and the trends in a special field (Abramo, D'Angelo & Viel 2011). Bibliometrics originated from the quantitative research of literature that emerged in the early 1900s, and since then literature analysis based on bibliometrics has been widely applied in academic research (Diem & Wolter 2013). Graphical research and visualisation studies of bibliometrics can be managed with the help of computer technology. Ma and Xi (1992) emphasised that graphical visualisation studies based on co-citation analysis could provide more information and make data more comprehensive. Additionally, this method could help researchers determine the most recent developments in a special field and forecast the possible direction of such a field (Chen 2006). Co-citation analysis considers that any new theory comes from an existing one, and two articles are defined as having a co-citation relationship if they are cited by one or more articles at the same time; to what extent they are close to each other is called the co-citation degree, which is calculated by the number of citations (Small 2003).

CiteSpace is a free Java-based application for analysing co-citations and generating visual maps, as well as finding trends and patterns. This powerful and popular tool is designed for finding critical points in the development and evolution of a field, especially turning points and pivotal points. It provides various functions to help with identifying fast-growing topical areas, finding citation hot spots, decomposing a network into clusters, automatically labelling clusters with keywords from citing articles, finding geospatial patterns of collaboration and unique areas of collaboration and so forth (Chen 2006). In building the network image, three types of views - cluster view, timeline view and timezone view - can be used for analysing different information including knowledge structure, time span of a topic and evolution trends, respectively. The primary source of input data for CiteSpace is the Web of Science (Chen 2013).

This paper uses CiteSpace version V and Java VIII as a visual and analytic research tool that is freely available online and was founded by Chaomei Chen, the inventor of CiteSpace ( The Web of Science is one of the most excellent literature databases containing citation information sources crucial for this study (Chen et al. 2016). Hence, it was used as a data resource website and was also recommended by CiteSpace. To obtain the original target articles' information, 'organisational culture' and 'corporate culture' were used as a whole phrase in the topic search. Several restrictions were set before the topic search. Firstly, the Web of Science Core Collection was used rather than All Databases so that articles would be of high quality and influential in this field. Secondly, the time span was set from 2005 to 2016 because some core journals associated with organisational culture in social science were collected from 2005, such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organisation Science and so on. Thirdly, the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) were used as citation indexes to make the samples more comprehensive. Finally, 3488 articles were selected from the database, and 'management', 'business' and 'psychology applied' were set as the categories for further restriction to refine the sample size to 1479, limiting the sample to the main discipline and the nature of 'organisational culture'. Even though Web of Science does not include all papers about organisational science, the references from collected records cover almost every important article in this field; therefore, crucial points can be highlighted on the map of cited reference, author or institution. The search details are listed in Table 1.



Results and discussion of citing papers analysis

Document information

Journal articles were identified as the most common document type, which accounts for 90.96% (N = 1318) of all papers in this study, followed by reviews (N = 82). Almost all papers were published in English (N = 1454) as the database of SCI-Expanded and SSCI mostly consists of English journals rather than journals in other languages, and scholars tend to publish their articles in English as they want them to be widely accepted.

There is an obvious sudden increase in publications in this field, from 75 articles in 2007 to 118 articles in 2008, and the number of articles continued to increase until peaking at 163 articles in 2012, followed by a decrease to approximately 130 articles in subsequent years (shown in Figure 1). The doubling in the number of articles published from 2007 to 2012 illustrates that organisational culture has still been an active topic in recent years; however, it does not mean that research in this field is hot or is increasing compared to other bibliography studies, such as 'emergy' research increasing from 5 articles in 1993 to 93 articles in 2014 (Chen et al. 2016). The 1479 papers in this study have been cited 19 982 times, and the steady linear pattern of growth rate shown in Figure 2 for each year also proves that research in organisational culture reached a plateau at approximately 130 articles each year and will probably remain the same in the future. Nevertheless, it is now a mature subject, and there are still many works (130 articles per year) on this topic compared to other studies (Chen et al. 2016; Feng et al. 2015). Unfortunately, a clear pattern from 1970 to 2004 cannot be captured through Web of Science because of the collection deficiency; however, this shortcoming does not affect our results in the subsequent analysis, and the 1479 articles' references cover almost every important article in this field for this study.






Based on the database from 2005 to 2016, there are 2557 authors contributing to 1479 articles. The top 27 most active authors, with more than 3 articles each, are listed in Table 2. The number of publications for the top 27 authors is relatively small and disperse, and only accounts for 8.42% of the 1479 articles; however, some cooperative pattern can be seen among these top authors in Figure 3. Nine collaborative groups can be found, which are presented by nodes linked by lines. The size of the nodes represents the number of articles, whereas the lines represent the collaborative relationship. All four papers from Flatten (Brettel, Chomik & Flatten 2015; Engelen et al. 2014; Strese et al. 2013, 2015) are associated with the top-ranked scholar Brettle, and they mainly focused on how organisational culture and innovation culture could influence new product developmental performance, in other words, how culture impacts innovation. Engelen (2010) was investigating the effect of organisational culture, especially cross-national culture, on entrepreneurial orientation or innovation orientation; therefore, the key point that these three scholars captured was the relationship between innovative performance and cross-national organisational culture (Engelen et al. 2014). Studies by Ogbonna and Harris (2007) dealt with various topics such as websites, the Internet and organisational behaviours; however, they emphasised that organisational culture played a key role in the operation of an organisation (e.g. Harris & Ogbonna 2007; Lloyd & Ogbonna 2011; Ogbonna & Harris 2007, 2014). Baruch and He highligh