The study of an English hospice commences by first examining the literature on organizational culture. The extensive and often contested literature on two major and competing epistemological positions is explored. The first is associated with realism and positivism and the second with nominalism and interpretivism. In the former, culture is seen as an instrumental aspect of organizational life—an independent variable capable of manipulation by the organizational members. In the latter, culture has a much more ambiguous ontology, being conceptualized as a tacit framing device or meanings dimension that allows for sense-making amongst the organization’s stakeholders. This divergence of views is often expressed in terms of whether culture is something the organization has or something the organization is. Such views are often seen as being at opposite (objectivist versus subjectivist) ends of a continuum of social science philosophy.
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