Culture is a complex set of ‘living patterns’ that unifies/binds a group of people. This group can be an entire society or any concrete organization. Being motivational means that it has its own volition ― a challenging situation.
Please read first: Motivation at the Center of Life
Culture ― motivation ― life?
Several insightful philosophers see cultures as living organisms ― thus, with motivation at the center.
Surely, a culture is a structure. Also, there is a striving for consolidation involved. Whether or not calling it ‘life,’ culture has some of its essential features, with the urge to consolidate at its core. Without this urge, it would succumb to cultural chaos ― making it difficult for people to live in a coherent group.
This urge may be seen as the culture’s motivation ― positive or negative to the members.
Cultural versus individual
While groups of individuals need culture, culture – as a structure – needs individuals. Even more. It needs individuals who conform to the culture’s motivation. Culture doesn’t exist without people. Therefore, it needs to bind people. It does so for its own sake and only secondarily for the members’ sake.
Thus, conformity may run counter to individuals’ motivations. As it happens, at the end of this spectrum, culture may be suffocating.
An organization can be a commercial firm, an occupational entity, a church or religion, or any other enduring group of people.
Being part of society, organizations are subject to society’s culture. On top of that, each organization has its cultural specificities. In a way, it has its own motivation that can grow more or less independently. Therefore, this needs to be taken care of ― especially since an implicit negative culture may result in tons of absenteeism and presenteeism (being present but not efficiently contributing). It can make or break the organization from the inside out.
Making things more challenging to pinpoint and remedy, an organization’s culture is pretty ineffable. The credo and mission may be written down somewhere ― and forgotten explicitly or implicitly.
But that doesn’t make the cultural influence less powerful.
How do cultures do this?
Culture binds people by using their motivation ― in a bad case, by hijacking it towards its own.
Further into the bad, people feel drained and meaningless as cogs in a giant wheel, rats in a rat race, overworked and undervalued. Feels familiar?
Then comes leisure.
Making things worse, leisure – including vacations – is also organized.
Leisure culture seems bent on ‘giving the working people a well-earned relief.’ It does, but not straightforwardly. It is motivated primarily to bind people, for instance, by heightening the sense that vacations (‘doing countries’) are necessary to feel well. The term ‘tourist attraction’ is no good sign. What are tourists doing there? What is the effect after coming home?
The recurring vacations may eventually be as stressful as the rest of the year ― burning motivation.
As a result, individuals are at risk of burnout.
Unfortunately, we are presently in a cultural situation where society readily leads to the burnout of many.
Of course, this is eventually also bad for the culture — kind of stupid, but that is another cultural feature. It is meant to survive, not be as intelligent as possible.
We need profound changes — not in any way easy!