Fifth in a series on Corporate Culture…

Where we work shapes us, our work, and those we work with. Places create culture.

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

Abraham Lincoln

Organizations, like trees, have roots. Roots tie people to places. Geography and buildings impact the culture of an organization. The Catholic Church outside of Rome, Islam without Mecca, and Hewlett-Packard outside Silicon Valley are difficult to imagine. Parings provide frameworks. It’s a two-way street too: Detroit without Chrysler is not easy to envision.

Some leaders have dubbed college campuses dinosaurs: Among them, James Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan and early prophet of the impact that distance learning would have on higher education. President Duderstadt was correct in every respect except one: Campuses of research universities will not whither. For research universities the power of place will multiply because of the Internet, not in spite of it. The campus as a signpost of academic energy and a means to collect a critical mass of faculty and students increases the value of buildings in a place rather than degrades them. This is where culture resides.