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Validity of Norms

For the understanding of the guiding process ‘Interaction Patterns’ (team dynamics) as well as the term organisational culture, it is very important to differentiate between the pattern form ‘norms’ and the pattern forms ‘values’ as well as ‘rules’. All three generate their validity very differently and serve different functions.

Norms serve to describe deviating behaviour (in the team) as deviating, even when there is a transgression against them. Thus, they function according to a ‘contra-factual’ principle. Here is a clear example: The norm “Thou shalt not kill!”, is not simply given up after the first killings (then it would be a rule) but quite the opposite, its validity remains! This is also the way in teams: The norm “Nobody is let down by us!” is still maintained when, occasionally, this cannot be avoided. In principle everybody depends upon it. This norm will (unlike rules) not be weakened by exceptions. Therefore, norms are also more difficult to change than rules, because norms incorporate more of the team’s orientation, order and identification (“This is how we want to be!”).

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