Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) explained

The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) developed by  Cameron and Quinn is a method to assess organizational culture.

Substantial research was involved in developing the OCAI. Professors Cameron and Quinn developed the model of the Competing Values Framework which consists of four Competing Values that correspond with four types of organizational culture.
Every organization has its own combination of these four types of organizational cultures.
This mix is found by the completion of a short survey. This assessment is a valid approach to looking at organizational culture and the wish for change. The OCAI is currently used by over 12,000 companies worldwide.

OCAI questionnaire

The test taker must split 100 points over a total of four descriptions that matches the four culture types, according to the present organization. This method determines the blend of the four culture types that dominate the current organizational or team culture.
By answering the questionnaire a second time, this time dividing 100 points according to what the respondent would like to see in the organization, the preferred organizational culture and the desire for change can be calculated.

Test takers assess six key characteristics of their corporate culture:

  • dominant characteristics
  • organizational leadership
  • management of employees
  • organization glue
  • strategic emphases
  • criteria of success

By averaging all individual OCAI scores, you can work out a combined organization profile. In smaller teams, it’s also possible to use all the distinct individual profiles and talk about them.

A culture profile illustrates the following:

  1. The dominant culture
  2. The strength of the dominant culture (the amount of points given)
  3. Discrepancy between present and preferred culture
  4. The congruency of the six features. Cultural incongruence frequently leads to a desire to change, because different values and goals can take a lot of time and debate
  5. Evaluation of the culture profile with the average for the sector
  6. Comparison with average tendencies; in what phase of development is the organization?

The outcome

From Quinn and Cameron’s extensive study, it was found that most organizations have developed a leading culture style. An organization rarely has only one culture type. Time and again, there is a mix of the four organizational cultures.
The Competing Values Framework states that the values and the corresponding organizational cultures compete with each other. Organizations can spend their money, attention, and time only once, so they tend to emphasize particular values.
Quinn and Cameron found that flexible organizations are the most successful, which sometimes leads to conflicting behavior. The “best” organizations can address the competition within this framework well and use all four value sets when needed.
A culture type performs best in the activities domain that aligns with that specific culture type. In the healthcare sector, for example, we discovered a lot of clan culture. This type genuinely fits in with the profession of looking after people. There is no final “best” organizational culture. Only in a particular circumstance will one class of culture serve better than another.

The Competing Values Framework

From a list of thirty-nine indicators of effectiveness for organizations, two vital dimensions were discovered by statistical analysis.
Cameron and Quinn made four quadrants corresponding with the four organizational cultures that differ deeply on these two dimensions:

  • Internal focus and integration vs. External focus and differentiation
  • Stability and control vs. Flexibility and discretion

competing values frameworkTo the left in the graph, the organization is internally centered (what is important for us, and how do we want to work?), and to the right, the organization is externally focused (what is valuable for the outside world, the clients, and the market?).
At the top of the graph, the organization desires flexibility and discretion, while at the bottom the organization values the opposite: stability and control.

The Four Culture Types

The Clan Culture
This working environment is a sociable one. People have a lot in common, and it’s like one big family. The executives are seen as mentors or maybe even as father figures. The organization is held together by commitment and tradition. There is great involvement. The organization emphasizes durable Human Resource development and connects fellow workers by morals. Success is identified within the framework of addressing the needs of the clients and caring for the people. The organization encourages teamwork, participation, and consensus.
Leader Type: facilitator, mentor, team builder
Value Drivers: Commitment, communication, development
Theory of Effectiveness: Human Resource development and involvement are effective
Quality Improvement Strategy: Empowerment, team building, employee participation, Human Resource development, open communication

The Adhocracy Culture
This is an energetic and creative working environment. Employees take risks. Leaders are innovators and risk takers. Experiments and innovation are the bonding materials within the organization. Prominence is emphasized. The long-term goal is to grow and create new resources. The availability of new products or services is seen as an achievement. The organization encourages individual ingenuity and freedom.
Leader Type: Innovator, entrepreneur, visionary
Value Drivers: Innovative outputs, change, agility
Theory of Effectiveness: Innovativeness, vision, and new resources are effective
Management Theory: Surprise and delight, creating new standards, anticipating needs, continuous improvement, finding creative solutions

The Market Culture
This is a results-based organization that highlights completing work and getting things done. People are competitive and concentrated on goals. Leaders are hard drivers, producers, and competitors at the same time. They are tough and have high expectations. The importance of winning keeps the organization together. Reputation and success are the most important. Long-term focus is on rival activities and reaching goals. Market penetration and stock are the definitions of success. Competitive prices and market leadership are key. The organizational style is based on competition.
Leader Type: Hard driver, rival, producer
Value Drivers: Market share, goal achievement, profitability
Theory of Effectiveness: Aggressively competing and customer focus are effective
Quality Improvement Strategy: Measuring client preferences, improving productivity, creating external partnerships, improving competitiveness, getting customers and suppliers to participate

The Hierarchy Culture
This is a formalized and structured work environment. Procedures decide what people do. Leaders are proud of their efficiency-based coordination. Keeping the organization functioning effortlessly is most crucial. Formal rules and policy keep the organization together. The lasting goals are stability and results, paired with the efficient and smooth execution of tasks. Trustful delivery, smooth planning, and low costs are the characterization of success. The personnel management has to guarantee work and values predictability.
Leader Type: Coordinator, monitor, organizer
Value Drivers: Efficiency, timeliness, consistency, and uniformity
Theory of Effectiveness: Control and efficiency with capable processes are effective
Quality Improvement Strategy: Error detection, measurement, process control, systematic problem solving, quality tools

Why do organizations and teams make use of the OCAI?
The OCAI online culture assessment will supply you with the following:

  • Insight into the dominant culture of your organization
  • Insight into how market focused, hierarchic, personal and/or innovative your organization performs
  • A measure of satisfaction by assessing the discrepancy between current and preferred culture
  • A quick and straightforward point of comparison before and after restructuring, change, or merger
  • A clear feeling of the preferred culture as a preliminary point for a strategy of change
  • An awareness of culture as an important factor in success
  • An objective and validated measure of how culture is recognized, which is a starting point for change

Research shows that organizational culture is “the difference that makes the difference”—it is the reason why 70 percent of all mergers and reorganizations fail. The powerful cultural factor is really not as “undefined” as prejudice would have it. Culture is ordinarily experienced as obvious: people are not noticing. That’s why a description of it is not so straightforward while changing culture is even harder.
The power of the OCAI assessment is in the classification of your culture so that you can begin to see and explain it. It is the first step. OCAI offers you some grip to actually start changing; what course are we taking? With the OCAI Work Kit that OCAI Online offers you, you also have a step-by-step manual to fully make use of this system.

Use the OCAI method with its clear benefits for analyzing and changing the culture:

  1. It is valid: not only do people recognize their outcomes, but the OCAI is also validated and has a verified basis.
  2. It’s quantitative: providing a measurement from the test, completed by qualitative information during the process of discussing and working with the results to determine the desired changes.
  3. It’s involving: either by including all personnel or those who give direction and conduct change.
  4. It’s focused: it measures the six key dimensions that make a difference in success.
  5. It’s timely: both assessing and developing a change strategy can be accomplished in a sensible period.
  6. It’s manageable: it can be undertaken and implemented by a (management) team; no outside experts or consultants are required.

If you want to learn how to work with culture and the OCAI culture assessment to help your organization change successfully, check out the eBook “How to guide Positive Change with Culture and Positive Leadership”.

For more blog posts and applications of the OCAI, please check the official OCAI Blog.

By the way, I also have an OCAI video training for those who prefer watching above reading. You can enroll today 🙂

Copyright Marcella Bremer. All rights reserved.

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46 Responses to Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) explained

  1. jegatha says:

    I need to interview some persons from a organization to identify the Organizational Culture in that organization. Please give some tips for questions to be asked. jgatha

  2. Hi Jegatha,

    You can ask them what their biggest challenge is regarding organizational culture. You can ask them what has to change right away, what shouldn’t be changed at all. You can ask them what to do more of and what to do less of.
    And you can ask them to do the survey at This will provide a shared reference.
    Hope this helps.


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  5. Mike says:


    Could you please explain me if the Leader Type, Value Drivers, Theory of Effectiveness and Quality Improvement Strategy, can refer to all six questions, or we find one of those in each question?

    Thank you

    • Hi Mike,
      They refer to the 4 culture types, all formed by the six aspects of organizational culture.
      best regards,

      • Mike says:

        Thank you for the answer, but I still do not understand it exactly. For example the Leader type answers can be found in 2nd and 3rd question, but not in others. Is it like this? But the Value drivers can be assessed in Organization glue Question. Or am I mistaken?

  6. That’s not how it works. The terminology of Leader type, Value drivers etc. is simply used to describe each culture type and is not specifically tied to the 6 culture aspects.
    The survey statements determine one of 6 culture aspects. Leader type has something to do with organizational leadership but doesn’t cover it completely. Organizational leadership is the broad concept of how the organization at large is being led. The management of employees refers to daily behaviors of people and workplace, etc.
    Values from the competing values framework are found in all statements; whether you score the aspect Organizational leadership or Strategy – the question is whether you value people (clan culture), results (market), processes (hierarchy) or innovation (adhocracy) most.
    To learn more, you may want to read Cameron and Quinn’s book “Diagnosing and Changing organizational culture” or Bremer’s book “Organizational Culture Change” (available on Amazon). You might want to try the OCAI yourself to get a better idea, too.

  7. Daisy M. Gimeno says:

    thank you for the informative inputs but i do need an exact questionnaire on org culture for construction industry.thank you so much

  8. Ravinder Tulsiani Training and Development Manager says:


  9. marivic T.Sanchez says:

    I am Marivic T.Sanchez from the Philippines. My staff has been too eager to do research but find it difficult until a friend shared his thesis and made use of the Organizational Culture Assessment Questionnaire . We are contemplating to use the instrument in our research about our employees and officials. We are actually connected with a state university. Can we request permission to use it free of charge? if yes what will be the requirements and responsibilites . Please reply. Thank you.

  10. Patty Cottrell says:

    I am a doctoral candidate and had the same question Marivic had… I found the following link (which you have on your website) to be very helpful!! Thanks so much…

  11. John Goldstein says:

    Do you happen to know if a company has to pay licensing fees to use the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) in their recruitment? Or did Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn release the information to the public to use?

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  13. Sameera says:

    What is the reliability and validity of this test?

  14. otty says:

    Can we change from one type in to another type – can you tell me the way. For example for adocracy to market?

    • There is no one-fits-all approach to change from adhocracy to market culture – or any other change you’d like to make. Every organizational system is different and should find the leverage that will make the difference in their specific system. However, there are general tips to consider. They are described in the book “Organizational Culture Change: Unleash your Organization’s Potential in Circles of 10” by Marcella Bremer. They can’t be summarized quickly below this blog post – you’d best take a look at this book or discover what would best for your organization in a workshop or focus group.

  15. Hello… I am currently doing research on cross cultural problems while doing business. Can this model be used to study the effectiveness of an organization from one country working in different cultural environment of other country?

    • The OCAI assesses the organizational culture according to four archetypes of culture. National culture provides a different context for this organizational culture. The effectiveness of an organizational culture depends on its match with their market, nation, customers and employees, etc. You may see that some national cultures align better with one of the archetypes of the OCAI than others – because it is a better match. For that reason, you may consider to use the OCAI and Hofstede’s national culture dimensions to assess the correlations and determine the best fit for an organization.

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  18. Saleem Azhar says:

    please tell me how we can find reliability and validity of data collected on “Current” portion of OCAI, as I am not in need of “preffered” portion. and please also tell me what would be the category of data collected through OCAI, e.g. Ranked category? or any other?

  19. tonimed says:

    Hello, Is it possible to use only a part of the model (for example cropping the part about preferred culture) focusing only on the current one?

  20. Juliet Apio says:

    Hi, Am requesting for a brief questionnaire of organizational culture. i would like to test the relationship between organizational culture and organizational knowledge creation. Looking forward to your positive response. Thank you.

  21. Tiến Minh says:

    Hello, I don’t understand six key characteristics of their corporate culture. Can you explain six key to mẹ? How do we have it?

    • During the OCAI assessment, a participant divides 100 points over a number of descriptions that correspond to the four organizational culture types, according to their experience of the present organization. This method assesses the mix of the four culture types that dominate the current organizational or team culture.
      By answering the questionnaire a second time, this time dividing the 100 points according to what the respondent would prefer for the future, the preferred organizational culture and the desire for change can be measured.

      The scoring is deliberately designed this way. By dividing 100 points over 4 statements, respondents have to weigh and choose – just like the Competing Values Framework or reality. In reality, you can’t have everything at the same time. You can’t eat the cake and keep it. A Likert-scale would allow people to give everything the maximum number of points – while this way of scoring is more realistic.

      Respondents assess the following six key aspects of their organizational culture. Again, this concise number of six aspects is the results of extensive research. Adding more variables does not enhance the survey’s validity. Hence, the survey is short and sweet while it yields a valid representation of culture. (If you want to know more about validity and reliability, please refer to the book by Cameron & Quinn). The six culture aspects that you assess in the survey, are:

      Dominant characteristics
      Organizational leadership
      Management of employees
      Organization glue
      Strategic emphases
      Criteria of success

  22. Wolansa hailu says:

    Hi could you please tell me what is cultural congruence

  23. Wolansa hailu says:

    Hi, Could you please tell me the acceptable renege of reliability?

  24. Paul Mlls says:

    Hello, I am a doctoral student and want to use Organizational Culture type as a variable in a model of behavior. (e.g., using dummy variables for culture type). However the survey seems long (am I correct it is 100 items?). Is there a “short version” – I only need current, and not desired culture.

    • Hi Paul,
      The OCAI is short, it takes about 15 minutes to complete. There are 6 dimensions of culture with each 4 statements.
      You divide 100 points among each of the 4 statements for both the current and preferred situation.

  25. Philip Oakley says:

    Interestingly, the 2×2 CVF and the 6 cultures are a very nice fit for human cognitive capacity.

    As individuals we can happily handle the 6 cultural types in our head, and feel happy about it (see Miller’s magic number seven paper).

    However when it comes to achieving a common understanding in a group, we need to limit ourselves to the 2×2 limit, which we, as a group, can handle, almost. If we personally have to complete a 2×2 matrix, such as SWOT, then just like the CVF, we find that we can fill in three of the boxes, but the last box stays blank for a while, until one has plucked up courage to write some ‘nonsense’. After a while folks will learn some trick for completing the last ‘competing values’ box (it’s the one where two wrongs need to make a right!).

    Just have a look at how many two by two quadrant boxes are offered in Management literature, and the same is present in ‘Crossing the Chasm’ regarding innovation and adoption of new technologies.

    In politics it (looking at the audience capacity) usually comes down to just two parties, and a conflicted third party that picks up the rest – just rotate the 2×2 box to be a diamond, and think of a ‘bow-tie’ party trying to hold the middle ground.

  26. please check previous responses to the same question

  27. YL says:

    Hi, would like to ask if it is for an organisation with about few thousand employees, does it mean that all of them must do the survey or we can do with a certain percentage from all levels?

  28. Pingback: Effective Organizational Culture Change Management – Essay Expert Writers

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