Remote Organizational Culture of a Think Tank

I am interning at a think tank in Washington DC called the Institute for Free Speech. The organization is founded based in advocating for principles based in the First Amendment. All members of my organization have a share a common concern for advocating for the First Amendment and supporting a robust free expression culture. My organization also believes that the First Amendment entitles people to become politically engaged in the United States. We oppose restrictive campaign finance regulations and policies that unconstitutionally limit the ability for people to use money in order to advocate for issues that are important to them. While the organization shares a common beliefs in principles there are diverse beliefs and perspectives in the organization. There are various attorneys and communication experts that work together.

The working context of the organization is relatively informal and collaborative. While we produce formal work that analyzes political issues, our process to produce this work involves a lot of communication and productive feedback that helps us to improve our work. The collaborative culture is has a lot of strengths because it creates a friendly atmosphere that allows the sharing of beliefs. We make sure to invite disagreement so that we have diverse perspectives weigh in on our decision. The collaborative process is also helpful because it allows a conversational and friendly exchange that allows people to efficiently work together. A formal environment where people are more hesitant to express their opinions makes our work less productive and creative. My boss is an excellent leader who works hard to cultivate this environment and make everyone comfortable sharing their views. He actively encourages collaboration and dialogue between members. While I am only an intern, I am regularly asked to share my opinions and offer substantive feedback.

A weakness of the organizational culture is a necessary consequence of the pandemic limiting the ability for members to communicate with one another. I have to work remotely due to Coronavirus and this has unfortunately limited the amount that I am able to work with others. I talk over the phone with the department and my supervisor each week but there is a noticeable difference between talking in person with people and communicating over the phone and email. One way that my organization can improve its culture is by increasing the amount of face to face communication as much as possible. While it is not possible to work in person due to the pandemic it is possible to communicate as an organization over Zoom and Skype instead of conference calls. I think these technology platforms would increase the level of personal communication between members. This strategy would simultaneously work to combat the main weakness in my organization’s culture while also playing to its key strength of utilizing collaborative strategies to solve problems.

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