Companies have prevailing norms, systems of social control that define appropriate attitudes and behaviors for all employees (See my post of Dec. 17, 2007 for the difference between culture and norms.). As but two examples, do executives have parking privileges; is child care provided?
Law departments inhale the norms of the company they serve (See my post of June 11, 2007 on equity and equality norms.). They also develop swarms of norms (See my post of Jan. 8, 2008 on ethnography.).
Do people work on weekends (See my posts of Nov. 9, 2006 on skiving; and Sept. 22, 2006 on perceptions that law departments are nadirs of competitiveness.)? Do lawyers take all their vacation hours (See my post of June 30, 2007 workaholics.)? Are the halls and offices of the law departments quiet at 6PM?
Everywhere you look you can spot norms, such has how people share information throughout the law department (See my posts of July 25, 2005 on communities of practice; and March 13, 2007 with references.).
Can anyone walk in and talk to the general counsel (See my post of Sept. 25, 2006 on open-door attitudes of general counsel.)? Do many people in the law department eat lunch together (See my post of April 14, 2005 on brown bag lunches.) or go with each other to social events (See my post of Sept. 22, 2005 law department retreats.)?
Norms lurk everywhere (See my post of Dec. 17, 2007 on artwork; Dec. 19, 2007 about grounds for concern over coffee; and Oct. 22, 2005 for my iron-clad rule on dress codes.)?