Assessing an organizational culture instrument based on the Competing Values Framework: exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses

Implement Sci. 2007 Apr 25;2:13. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-2-13.


Background: The Competing Values Framework (CVF) has been widely used in health services research to assess organizational culture as a predictor of quality improvement implementation, employee and patient satisfaction, and team functioning, among other outcomes. CVF instruments generally are presented as well-validated with reliable aggregated subscales. However, only one study in the health sector has been conducted for the express purpose of validation, and that study population was limited to hospital managers from a single geographic locale.

Methods: We used exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to examine the underlying structure of data from a CVF instrument. We analyzed cross-sectional data from a work environment survey conducted in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). The study population comprised all staff in non-supervisory positions. The survey included 14 items adapted from a popular CVF instrument, which measures organizational culture according to four subscales: hierarchical, entrepreneurial, team, and rational.

Results: Data from 71,776 non-supervisory employees (approximate response rate 51%) from 168 VHA facilities were used in this analysis. Internal consistency of the subscales was moderate to strong (alpha = 0.68 to 0.85). However, the entrepreneurial, team, and rational subscales had higher correlations across subscales than within, indicating poor divergent properties. Exploratory factor analysis revealed two factors, comprising the ten items from the entrepreneurial, team, and rational subscales loading on the first factor, and two items from the hierarchical subscale loading on the second factor, along with one item from the rational subscale that cross-loaded on both factors. Results from confirmatory factor analysis suggested that the two-subscale solution provides a more parsimonious fit to the data as compared to the original four-subscale model.

Conclusion: This study suggests that there may be problems applying conventional CVF subscales to non-supervisors, and underscores the importance of assessing psychometric properties of instruments in each new context and population to which they are applied. It also further highlights the challenges management scholars face in assessing organizational culture in a reliable and comparable way. More research is needed to determine if the emergent two-subscale solution is a valid or meaningful alternative and whether these findings generalize beyond VHA.