This study aims to characterize and assess the organizational cultures of two Nordic nuclear power plant (NPP) maintenance units. The research consisted of NPP maintenance units of Forsmark (Sweden) and Olkiluoto (Finland). The study strives to anticipate the consequences of the current practices, conceptions and assumptions in the given organizations to their ability and willingness to fulfill the organizational core task. The methods utilized in the study were organizational culture and core task questionnaire (CULTURE02) and semi-structured interviews. Similarities and differences in the perceived organizational values, conceptions of one's own work, conceptions of the demands of the maintenance task and organizational practices at the maintenance units were explored. The maintenance units at Olkiluoto and Forsmark had quite different organizational cultures, but they also shared a set of dimensions such as strong personal emphasis placed on safety. The authors propose that different cultural features and organizational practices may be equally effective from the perspective of the core task. The results show that due to the complexity of the maintenance work, the case organizations tend to emphasize some aspects of the maintenance task more than others. The reliability consequences of these cultural solutions to the maintenance task are discussed. The authors propose that the organizational core task, in this case the maintenance task, should be clear for all the workers. The results give implications that this has been a challenge recently as the maintenance work has been changing. The concepts of organizational core task and organizational culture could be useful as management tools to anticipate the consequences of organizational changes. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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