Edgar H. Schein

1928 - 2023

Father of organizational culture with ground-breaking work on organization learning and career dynamics. 


Inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame in 2009. 


Ranked #36 in 2005.

Previous positions:

#17 (2003), #21 (2001). 


Recipient of the distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award of the Academy of Management, 2009.


Schein’s model of organizational culture, which he proposed in the 1980s, identifies three distinct levels of culture: artifacts, espoused values, and assumptions. The basic assumptions – assumptions that are deeply embedded in the office dynamic – shape the values – how the organization represents itself to themselves and others – and the values shape practices and behaviour – the visible part of the culture.

Schein also developed the concept of career anchors, an individual’s perception of their own talent and abilities, values, motives, and needs, which help people make better career choices.


In 1972 he became the chairman of the Organization Studies Group of the MIT Sloan School, a position he held until 1982. Besides his numerous articles in professional journals, he has authored fourteen books and received many honours and awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award in Workplace Learning (2012).


Organizational Culture and Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 1985); Career Anchors: Discovering Your Real Values (Pfeiffer & Co, 1993); Process Consultation: Its Role in Organization Development (FT Press, 1998); Process Consultation Revisited: Building the Helping Relationship (FT Press, 1998); The Corporate Culture Survival Guide, (Jossey-Bass, 1999); Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help (Berrett-Koehler, 2009); Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (Berrett-Koehler, 2013).


Media picks


“Schein brought organizational culture to the forefront of management thinking.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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