Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations

Creation and Adaptation of Norms in a Tire-Mold Manufacturing Organization

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Lynda Dixon (Advisor)


This case study examined the ways in which organizational members created norms that sustained the organizational culture in a tire-mold manufacturing organization, the effects of those norms, and members’ motivation to comply with them. Within the organization, co-cultures maintain identical values but employ different norms due to the nature of their work. Despite the standardized processes for designing and manufacturing tire-molds, norms that sustain the values of autonomy and creativity enable innovation that competition demands. This kind of study adds to organizational communication research about norms and can benefit organizational leaders, researchers, and consultants when assessing cultural values to determine strategies for change. The tire industry is competitive and requires change in products, procedures, and communication. Because the values and norms are imbedded in the culture, any such changes must address these strongholds. This case study can be used as a comparison to other organizations in a competitive environment. To conduct an assessment of the culture and its norms, the researcher audio taped face-to-face interviews with 30 members of a tire-mold manufacturing organization in a small Midwest town and observed organizational members over a period of three days. The tapes were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using Grounded Theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Strauss and Corbin, 1998). Themes that emerged revealed the cultural values and the norms that sustain them. The strength of this case study lies in its ability to identify cultural elements attributed to the norms. However, the restricted time spent in the organization limited the amount of contact with organizational members who were administrators; thus, findings would be richer and more conclusive with additional time.