Why do some management ideas take root and remain viable and others wither and die? This article offers four fundamental reasons: all organizations are basically living, social organisms; culture is more powerful than anything else in the organization; system‐focused interventions work, component‐centered interventions usually do not; interventions clearly tied to business strategy work, interventions not clearly tied to business strategy do not. The author describes research that points to four core cultures: control, based on a military system, with power as the primary motive; collaboration, emerging from the family and/or athletic team system, in which the underlying motive is affiliation; competence, derived from the university system, with the fundamental motive of achievement; and cultivation, growing from religious system(s) and motivated by growth or self‐actualization.
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