Organisations have structures and cultures that shape how they operate and make decisions. Understanding these can help you know what to expect and how to thrive in any kind of organisation.

Organisational structure refers to the way the organisation is organised and how different departments and teams interact with each other. Generally, an organisation’s structure is either hierarchical, having a clear chain of command or flat, with less emphasis on hierarchy.

Organisational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and norms that guide how people behave in a company. It can be influenced by factors such as the company’s history, mission, and leadership.

We will now look at the organisational structures and cultures that are common to the different kinds of organisations in the industry.

SMEs: Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises often have a flatter organisational hierarchy with fewer management levels as they have smaller teams. SMEs have a close-knit, family-like atmosphere where everyone knows each other well. Except dictated by the industry it is operating in, SMEs most times put less emphasis on strict dress codes and formalities. As an intern, you will have more direct access to the company’s management, and perform a wide range of tasks wearing multiple hats to provide you exposure to various aspects of the organisation. 

Startups: startups often have fluid and dynamic structures that can change rapidly as the company grows. They are often fast-paced and have a lot of ambiguity as many things are yet to be strictly defined. They promote an entrepreneurial culture, encouraging innovation, and emphasising creativity, resourcefulness, and the ability to adapt quickly. Startups often have a casual and flexible atmosphere emphasising open communication and collaboration. As an intern, you will likely work with a core hands-on team and need to adapt quickly to changing roles and responsibilities.

Large Corporations: Large corporations often have a more formal hierarchical organisational structure and culture than SMEs and startups. They often have departments and divisions headed by professionals with well-defined roles and responsibilities. They often have a structured and formal culture with well-defined policies and procedures. Large corporations offer greater stability and more resources, providing a sense of security and support. As an intern,  you may have the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals and work on complex projects.

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Updated on January 29, 2024