Critical Examination Of Previous Studies


The essay is a critical examination of two published journals. The main aim of this critique is to allow me to learn from them and to try as much as possible to analyze the concepts and theories brought forth and link the same with my Ph.D. thesis titled “the impact of organizational culture in knowledge sharing behavior in organizations”. It is no doubt that having such knowledge of critically evaluating other works addressing related topic one is doing for his or her thesis is very important since it will ensure that during the review of literature, choosing the methodology, data analysis techniques, discussion of the findings and finally making recommendations and conclusion one will be in a better position to come up with a high-quality paper. To accomplish this task, the purposes, objectives and research questions, theories and concepts, methodology, and how the discussions have been done will be linked with what I intend to do. The essay compares two studies by selecting similar concepts and how they were defined in both papers my own opinion is also brought forth regarding these concepts and theories. Lastly, the paper explains the journals’ arguments and whether they share the same or opposing views. Two articles used for this critique are “Organization culture: Can it be a source of sustained competitive advantage?” written by Barney, J. and published in 1986, and the second article is titled “Theories of Organizational Culture” published in 1984 and written by Allaire, Y., & Firsirotu, M. It is worth noting that studies being carried out including mine do have some background from existing literature. It would be rational for researchers to thus direct their effort to dig through various literature so that they can be able to identify gaps in the existing studies, duplicate methodologies among other issues so that the work to be developed will be superior and acceptable in the eyes of scholars and other relevant stakeholders.

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First artivle

Purpose and objectives

The article used here is the one written by Barney, J. This article’s main purpose was to critically examine the relationship between the culture of an organization and sustained superior financial performance. In my point of view, even though this objective might not be directly linked to my research topic, I believe the contents brought forth by the author with regards to how to sustain the continuous financial performance of an organization will help me link them to how knowledge sharing is shaped in my organization of choice. This is because the paper devoted a section to bring forth the major conditions or circumstances under which organizational culture is a source of sustained competitive advantage hence implicating sustained financial performance. Additionally, those attributes brought forth that dictate the superior performance of organizations will greatly help me when carrying out my literature review as well as discussion of my findings. Similarly, the section in which the author examined the organizational culture of some firms will also give me insight into how the said attributes are linked to organizational performance.

Key concepts and theories

The key terms and concepts in this article are organizational culture and organizational performance. According to the author, organizational culture refers to all those attributes adopted by an organization that shapes their beliefs, values, norms hence directing how the day-to-day running of the organization is achieved. Ideally, to my understanding, the concept is all that a firm will adopt and practice when providing goods and services to customers as well as other stakeholders. This thus gives me more insight into those adopted characters by an organization that can help it enhance knowledge sharing. Similarly, organizational culture defines the interaction between the firms and its other associated partners such as employees, suppliers among others (Barney, 1986). Financial performance refers to the rate of return on what an organization had invested. On the same note superior financial performance a concept the authors managed to link with organizational culture has been thought of as the rate of return which is above a return that is just large enough to sustain organization assets. On the same line of thinking, organizational culture and associated attributes can be used to improve employees’ performance especially through encouraging knowledge sharing. It is worth noting that a strategic and integrated approach to deliver sustained success to the organization by improving the people who work in them and by developing the capabilities of teams and individual contributors can only be attained when the organizational culture of the firm in question will foster knowledge sharing.

From the journal, an idea that is brought forth is the ability to sustain performance. This will make other organizations try to copy what it does. Ideally, the efforts to duplicate what other successful companies are doing will continue until all the relevant organizations are at per. The key for any organization to cut itself an edge in this competitive world of business is to develop strategies that cannot be imitated by its competitors. On the line of thinking, firms do come up with new plans to enhance sustainable competition by replacing the old ones with these new strategies. However natural cycles seriously impact the performance of an organization (Barney, 1986). I have also gathered from the author that for organizational culture to enhance performance and I bet it will still apply when it comes to influencing knowledge sharing; valuable culture, rare and imperfectly imitable are characteristics that hold. For my thesis, this will come in handy when am trying to propose for the organization the way forward with regards to developing an organizational culture that will foster knowledge sharing. Having in mind that competition is rife, it will be rational for strategies to be adopted aimed at making an organization be in a position to bring economic gain not easily duplicated by competitors to the enhanced sustainable ability to share knowledge.

Another important idea that is brought forth and relevant to my topic is that indeed there are other strategically relevant functions that a firm needs to manage so that it can continue enjoying its performance. Additionally, those attributes seen to be valuable in supporting knowledge sharing today may not be in let’s say 20 or 30 years to come. From another researcher, the author notes that some organizations do not possess the three attributes that make organizational culture contribute to competitive advantage, and for that reason, organizational culture cannot be seen as a source of competitive advantage for all organizations. This means that the culture may also not have an impact on how knowledge is shared within an organization.

According to Barney, 1986 firms that maximize productivity through their people or employees do have an organizational culture that is very supportive of human resources. In my view, one way to be supportive to employees is to have an environment in which knowledge transfer and sharing are given a priority.

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The author notes that it may be difficult for observers to point out the specific culture of the organization that adds value to a firm’s competitive advantage. This tells me that I have to be careful when trying to bring out how knowledge sharing is influenced by organizational culture.

More importantly, the author suggested that the ability to manage and modify organizational culture is very important. This is linked to my topic since I will be able to advise organizations that do not have cultures that support and enhance the knowledge transfer to do so.


From my analysis, the research approach used by the author of the journal was qualitative. This is based on the fact that the manner with which the findings were presented had no numeric values, frequencies, or percentages. On the same note, the data sources I believe were obtained from a secondary source. Based on what has been brought forth, I tend to hold the view that the topic and the findings were matching. Similarly, I will apply this technique partly when carrying out my study. The guiding principle here will be the advantages of secondary sources of data. However, I opt to be careful regarding some drawbacks of the kind of approach and for that reason. I will collect my data through primary using tools such as interviews.

Practical implications

In the strictest sense, the definition of organizational culture and the three attributes that dictate the competitive advantage of firms will be adopted in my thesis. However, I will try as much as possible to delink these attributes from financial performance and link them with knowledge sharing. This will of course be attained by using other relevant literature that talks about knowledge transfer and organizational culture. I will also use the finding in this article to beef up my arguments regarding an organization’s ability to modify and manage its culture so that it can be a source of competitive advantage through enhancing knowledge sharing among and between its employees.

Limitation of the study

In my view, the author tried his best to come up with a paper that will impart knowledge and set the ground for other studies. However, the approach he used to collect data was through the secondary data collection method. It has been shown that this source of data can be misleading in some situations due to the literature being outdated or selected in a biased manner by the present author.

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Second article

Purpose and objectives

Article 2 is titled “Theories of Organizational Culture” published in 1984 and written by Allaire, Y. & Firsirotu, M. this article had three main purposes which included providing topology regarding schools of thought in cultural anthropology so that to create an understanding of diverse and wide theories used to explain culture, to link the different points of view to the emerging notion of organizational culture that can be found either explicitly or implicitly in management as well as organization literature and finally to bring together all views, insights as well as results obtained from the study to come up with an integrative concept of how organizational culture can be used as a metaphor to understand by studying processes of decay, adaptation as well as radical changes in complex firms (Allaire & Firsirotu, 1984). In the introduction section, the authors managed to give an overview of their perception of an organization, and what comes out is that organization is a small society equipped with certain distinct characteristics. This is important in differentiating one organization from the other.

Key concepts and theories

Just like the previous article, there are several definitions of organizational culture. For that matter, the definition one adopts while studying organizational culture that dictates the specific conceptual assumptions as well as the way one will study culture. According to the authors, culture can be an ideational system meaning that cultural and social realms are different but interrelated and culture is located in the minds of those who bear it as well as the products of mind through shared meanings and symbols. On the other hand, there is a theory that postulates that culture is a social-cultural system thus culture is a component of the social system, shown in behaviors and products of behaviors (Allaire & Firsirotu, 1984). For that reason, studying social-cultural systems might be synchronic or diachronic.

It is worth noting that the article succinctly covered the various schools of thought concerning culture definition as well as the association it has with the existing management literature. I gather that ecological adaptationists see culture as a way in which certain patterns of behaviors are transferred to human ecological settings since they serve human communities. This view is much more applicable to my thesis since it will try to justify why there is a need to share knowledge. According to diffusionists, culture is made up of temporal, interactive, super-organization as well as independent configurations usually as a result of historical background. This will help me to explain why some organizations do not have the culture to enhance knowledge sharing. The cognitive school of thought believes that culture is a system of knowledge that helps one perceive, belief, evaluate as well as act in a manner that will be acceptable by others of the same society. The link of this definition to management literature is that culture’s main function is to cue and shape personal behavior towards the acceptable mode of behavior (Allaire & Firsirotu (1984).

Additionally, it is important to remember that even though classic literature considered organizations to be social-cultural systems characterized by an ideational, cultural component that is presumed and isomorphic to social and structural components; it is suggested that organizational culture is shaped by the history of the firm in question, type of leadership as well as other contingencies such as technology among others. In my view, this will provide me with lots of information on how the culture of the organization of my choice is influenced. The conclusion that firms are indeed not surpassingly and at once, social creation and creators of social meaning makes me believe that it is thus a powerful tool for interpreting the life of organizations and behaviors for understanding all aspects such as decay processes, adaption, and radical changes in organizations. On the same line of thinking, I bet since organization culture dictates the behaviors which are vital in defining the life of an organization; then I have the reasons to continue with my thesis since there is a link between organizational culture and knowledge sharing.

The idea that culture is a social-cultural system was the view of those anthropologists of yesteryears. However, it has been held that culture is the main instrument that guides people by putting them in a better position to cope up with the concrete specific problems they face in the course of searching for satisfaction. Similarly, firms are seen to be theatres for the playing out of the need of employees, and for that reason, there is a need for firms to adapt their structures as well as functioning to allow the whole man to meet his needs via organizational membership or it will suffer serious attrition (Allaire & Firsirotu, 1984). The implication is thus simple; for organizations to thrive and function successfully; then firms are compelled to accommodate in their structures the processes the desiderata of worker’s need satisfaction. In my understanding, one way to achieve this is to enhance knowledge sharing since it has been shown that in an environment where workers are allowed to grow and develop, there are higher chances of organizational success. This is very important to my thesis since it will explain the rationale behind having an organization that supports the transfer of knowledge.

Although the article covers widely the various schools of thought on how organizational culture is perceived, the link of what I have acquired will only guide my thesis in some sections. For instance, since the whole work did not link the association between organizational culture and knowledge sharing, I will have to first choose the definition that will bring out the association between the two. On the contrary, this article brings out issues relating to what factors influence organizational culture. In my view, this is very important when I will be doing the literature review for my thesis. Additionally, it will be much applicable when I will discuss my findings although to generate recommendations as well as draw conclusions.

Methodology and study approach

The approach used by the authors to come up with the findings in the article was qualitative. However, the sources used for this study were purely secondary. The authors just selected some literature that talked about organizational culture theories and critically reviewed them. This is one very important research technique that is very helpful when one is doing his or her thesis. The reason is that there are sections in the final paper for instance the literature review sections that will call for the researcher to analyze with a critical eye what other previous research says about the topic one is currently doing. No one expects me to carry out a primary data collection to develop such sections as literature review and partly the discussion section because this is not conventional.

This kind of approach to doing research is advantageous since it is cheap. Additionally, it gives one’s work a very important background. However, there are some drawbacks related to using secondary sources parse in carrying out research work and this is related to biasness as well as time factor meaning that some literature might not be suitable in its application since the contents are outdated or stale. For this reason, my choice of using a qualitative approach with both primary and secondary sources of data will help overcome these shortcomings.

Practical implications

There is no doubt that the concepts developed by the authors in this paper will guide my thought on how I will define and thereby apply organizational culture and knowledge sharing. Additionally, it will help me justify why organizational culture is an important factor when it comes to organizational success. Lastly, the findings will also help me when I will be discussing my research findings to establish whether they are consistent or not with previous studies.

Comparison of the papers

The two papers covered the concept of organizational culture in a manner that was perfectly done using a secondary source of data. It is worth noting that both journals devoted efforts to defining organizational culture even though the term has numerous definitions which will ultimately dictate the direction one will take when studying it. From my understanding, both the papers see the environment and climate of an organization as being important determinates of its culture. Therefore there is a consensus in these works that organizational culture entails all those factors that make any firm carry out its day-to-day tasks in a manner that meets the need, goals, and aspirations of its stakeholders ranging from employees to customers. The difference between the two articles is with regards to how the concept of organizational culture was approached.

For the first article, no clear theories were used while in the second article several theories were used to build on the concept of organizational culture. Similarly, while the first article emphasized that the three major attributes that make organizational culture bring competitive advantage are the ability of the culture to bring economic value, is not perfectly imitated and rare the other holds that the three major interrelated components of an organization which later influences on its culture are social structural systems, a cultural system, and the individual actors. In my view, these differences can be attributed to the fact that each study had purely different purposes and objectives. Despite this, the authors of these two articles managed to make readers appreciate what entails an organizational culture.


From the review of the two journals, it has been a nice experience for me to learn how to critically examine previous studies and take in what is important and relevant for my thesis. The concept of organizational culture which is central to my thesis has been brought out clearly although it has numerous and different definitions. The central idea in all the definitions is that it entails all those attributes an organization poses thereby helping it carry out their day to day activities in a manner that is unique and guarantees its future survival. For my thesis, I will take the concept and say ‘organizational culture refers to all those characteristics that make an organization can enhance and foster knowledge sharing as well as knowledge transfer aimed at meeting the needs and aspiration of workers’. Through the critique of the two articles, it is evident that the primary method of data source was secondary since the authors of both journals heavily relied on existing data. The purposes of both papers were indeed different but at the end of it all, the idea of what organizational culture was brought out clearly to my understanding. These two works are indeed suitable in guiding my Ph.D. thesis.


  1. Allaire, Y., & Firsirotu, M. (1984). Theories of organizational culture. Organization Studies, 5(3), pp. 193-226.
  2. Barney, J. (1986). Organization culture: Can it be a source of sustained competitive advantage. Academy of Management Review,11(1), pp. 656.
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