Global Culture Survey 2021: The link between culture and competitive advantage

September 2021

According to PwC’s Global Culture Survey 2021, culture is advancing on the leadership agenda, but the gulf in perception between senior management and the rest of the organisation has never been greater.

A total of 3,200 respondents participated in the survey to share their feelings and insights on issues related to organisational culture in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. The results from the survey indicate that 81% of respondents who strongly believe their organisation was able to adapt during the 12 months before our survey was conducted also say their culture has been a source of competitive advantage. These results are consistent across geographies, and the percentage is even higher in some countries, with 80% saying so in the US, 94% in China, 92% in India and 72% in the UK. This fact suggests that as leaders navigate a series of future challenges, amplifying the right parts of their culture can provide them with a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, deficiencies within an organisation’s culture can also undermine its ability to meet its strategic objectives.

In this year’s survey, Chinese respondents said that innovation, talent recruitment and retention, and digitisation are areas where organisation most need to improve.  Additional top priorities include diversity and inclusion and customer focus. These organisational elements are often considered prerequisites for highly innovative companies. Through 2025, there will be many competing priorities that will vie for the attention of Chinese companies and their leaders. In preparation for that, corporate culture should be a priority today. As early as possible, Chinese companies should adopt critical few behaviours for their unique fit-for-purpose innovation culture and define enabling and reinforcing mechanisms. Throughout every efforts to evolve corporate culture, leaders must recognise their critical role to in creating a workplace environment where innovation can thrive.

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Johnny Yu

People and Organisation Advisory Leader, PwC China

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Huxley Liang

Partner, PwC China

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Connie Zhu

Partner, PwC China

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