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The study of culture is on the rise; still, this popularity comes with the cost of increasing fragmentation, as definitions and conceptualizations proliferate. The objectives of this review are twofold: first, we set out to disentangle the multiple conceptual strands used to describe culture, and second, we examine how culture relates to other key constructs, particularly identity, institutions, and practices. To start, we build from extant work in sociology to identify and discuss five prominent ways in which culture has been theorized in the management literature—values, stories, frames, toolkits, and categories—and we organize these into a framework that hinges on values and toolkits as anchors. Second, we examine the relationship between culture and theorizations of identity, institutions, and practices in organization studies. We focus on these three dimensions because their vicinity with culture often leads to conceptual slippage, as debates in the extant literature document. Finally, we identify some avenues for further research and propose that culture should remain a “code of many colors” that envelops different theoretical perspectives.
- © 2015 Academy of Management