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Corporate Culture Matters At These Companies: Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), AOL, Inc. (AOL)

The HP way

Mergers and acquisitions aren’t the only events that should lead investors to monitor corporate cultures. Mayer’s change at Yahoo! clearly demonstrates that management changes can also turn corporate cultures on their heads. That can be both good and bad.

Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), for example, ran through several high-profile CEOs in the last decade. Each one came with their own style and approach. That none was able to stick, suggests that the vaunted HP way instilled by the company’s founders wasn’t an easy fit. That said, Meg Whitman, the company’s newest CEO, came in and quickly moved everyone into cubicles—herself included.

This was a big shift at a company that was in the technology space, but was far more buttoned down than most of its competitors. However, it was a clear attempt by Whitman to bring the collaborative and entrepreneurial style she was used to at her former employer, eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY), to her new company. With so many high-level changes at the company, fostering more collaboration was probably the right move, a belief backed by recent improvement on the business front.

Watch and listen

It can be hard to get a sense of a company’s culture. However, if you pay enough attention, you can figure it out. Read the company’s press releases, listen to corporate events, and watch the way in which the company is portrayed in the media. All of these things will give you an idea of what the inside of a company is like.

There are even some web sites dedicated to giving employees an anonymous outlet for sharing their experiences, but these tend to attract more malcontents than happy employees. Clearly, try to avoid companies with poisonous cultures. Hard-driving cultures can work in some businesses, though not in all. Creative environments, meanwhile, tend to be good all around.

The article Corporate Culture Matters At These Companies originally appeared on and is written by Reuben Gregg Brewer.

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