Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI)

The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) is a successful research method used to assess an organization's current and preferred organizational culture as well as its desire to change. The methodology was developed by University of Michigan professors Dr. Kim Cameron and Dr. Robert Quinn based on the Competing Values Framework. Using 39 different indicators, this powerful assessment tool measures an organization's effectiveness depending on whether it has:

  • Internal focus and integration vs. external focus and differentiation
  • Stability and control vs. flexibility and discretion[1]

Cameron and Quinn's (2006) premise is that strong organizational culture is a key to corporate profitability (p. 2 & 5). Organizational culture “is the set of key values, beliefs, and norms shared by members of an organization. Organizational cultures serve two critically important functions—to integrate members so that they know how to relate to one another and to help the organization adapt to the external environment” (Daft, 2007). Studies show that congruence between individual and organizational culture contributes to higher levels of performance (Cameron & Quinn, 2006).

Therefore, without a corresponding shift in organizational culture, attempts to change an organization’s results will have a low chance of achieving “enduring improvement in organizational performance” (p. 11). This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that many organizations neither understand their current culture nor the preferred culture which would best help them achieve their goals. Furthermore, cultural change is vital because “when the values, orientations, definitions, and goals stay constant - even when procedures and strategies are altered - organizations [and individuals] return quickly to the status quo” (p. 11).

The OCAI instrument is built on Cameron & Quinn's competing values framework (p. 31-61). The framework is rooted in considerable research in the field of organizational culture and aligns with well-accepted cultural categorical themes – the way people think, their values, assumptions and how they process information (p. 33). The research revealed six key dimensions which formed the basis of their framework on organizational culture: dominant cultural characteristics, organizational leadership, management of employees, organizational glue, strategic emphasis and criteria for success (p. 26-28).[2]

  1. Defining Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) Simon Associates
  2. Explaining OCAI