Culture creation and change: Making sense of the past to inform future research agendas

Yeun Joon Kim*, Soo Min Toh, Sooyun Baik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This review presents comprehensive analyses of extant research on culture creation and change. We use the framework of culture creation and change (Kim & Toh, 2019), which consists of three unique perspectives, to understand past research on the antecedents of cultures. The basis of the functionality perspective is that environmental changes shape cultures, and thus, the created cultures enable an organization to address the demands of its environments effectively. In contrast, the leadership perspective argues that leaders have disproportional influence on cultures, and when exercising such influence, they are often unsuccessful at creating functional cultures. The leadership perspective comprises two subperspectives—the leader-trait and cultural transfer perspectives. The leader-trait perspective argues that when creating cultures, leaders often overlook the functionality of cultures but rely heavily on their traits. The cultural transfer perspective suggests that leaders often recreate the cultures that they have experienced in the past. Building on this framework, we review 74 studies in 68 articles across multiple disciplines to widen our understanding of culture creation and change. We then present agendas for future research guided by a four-stage model and a theory of coordinated actions for creating functional cultures. Finally, we discuss methodological limitations in past studies and offer possible solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1503-1547
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number6
Early online date11 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • antecedents of culture
  • culture change
  • culture creation
  • the four-stage model for creating functional culture
  • the theory of coordinated actions for functional culture creation


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