Amazon Organizational Culture: harsh, but effectively contributing to the bottom line

By John Dudovskiy
March 22, 2022

Amazon Organizational CultureGenerally, Amazon organizational culture integrates the following five key elements:

1. Immense performance pressure. Amazon organizational culture has been described as “breakneck-paced, and notoriously cost-conscious, as befits a company that has run only a small profit, or a loss, under generally accepted accounting principles for most of its life as a public company.[1] Amazon organizational culture was fiercely criticized in 2015 in The New York Times article titled “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace”.

Specific flaws mentioned in the article include unrealistic performance standards, the work culture based on fear and the lack of recognition of employee contribution. The article caused debates in the media and even prompted a response from Amazon CEO at the time Jeff Bezos. Furthermore, work culture at Amazon has been described as “purposeful Darwinism” approach for employee management.[2]

Generally, pushy, combative and ‘bruising’ organizational culture is perceived as outdated. Nowadays, the popular belief is that workplaces need to be nurturing and encouraging, and managers need to be nice and friendly and treat their employees like family in order for a company to succeed. The largest internet retailer in the world by revenue proves this belief wrong.

Amazon has a very intense corporate culture with an extensive emotional and even physical pressure to some employees.  Nevertheless, Amazon along with Alphabet has been recognized by LinkedIn as the best place to work in US in 2021.[3]  This can be explained in a way that Amazon has a unique organizational culture that is not for everyone. Only employees who can thrive under immense pressure and fast-paced environment can survive in this company.

2. Constant reinvention and optimization of organizational culture. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos “emphasizes the importance of constantly assessing and adjusting Amazon’s culture so it never loses the agility, nimbleness, and hunger for experimentation”[4]. Accordingly, Bezos constantly opposes “one-size-fits-all” culture of decision making. Moreover, Bezos uses “two pizza rule” for meetings, where the numbers of participants in a meeting are limited to a group that can be all fed with two pizzas. [5]

The e-commerce giant is a data-obsessed company and this obsession also extends to the formation of its corporate culture. The company has a wide range of metrics related to employee performance and on the basis of data analysis it constantly attempts to enhance employee performance via tweaking with specific aspects of organizational culture.

3. Customer-centricity. Amazon positions itself as one of the most customer-centric companies in the world. Amazon vision statement is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” High level of customer-centricity is one of the cornerstones of Amazon corporate culture with direct implications to a wide range of organizational processes and procedures.

4. Operating like a startup. Despite the gigantic size of the company that employs 1,3 million people worldwide,[6] Amazon attempts to maintain startup mentality in terms of risk-taking, experimentation, flexibility of the business and ‘hunger’ for success. The founder and the first CEO Jeff Bezos was never tired of repeating ‘Day 1’ mantra and the new CEO Andy Jassy is following the same suit. Day 1”is about being constantly curious, nimble, and experimental. It means being brave enough to fail. “Day 1” approach is deeply integrated into the core of Amazon corporate culture.

5. Diversity among workforce. Valuing diversity among the workforce is also placed at the core of Amazon organizational culture. The company has GLAmazon, an official employee affinity group for gay and lesbian employees, as well as, Black Employees Network and Women in Technology groups.[7]

To summarize, Amazon organizational culture represents an interesting paradox. On one hand, it is harsh and squeezes maximum from each and every employee. On the other hand, the e-commerce giant is on the list of companies many people would like to work for. The probable explanation of this phenomenon is that the immense role of the company and changes it is making in the global scale attracts individuals to join its workforce, despite the pressure job involves. Inc. Report contains the above analysis of Amazon organizational culture. The report illustrates the application of the major analytical strategic frameworks in business studies such as SWOT, PESTEL, Porter’s Five Forces, Value Chain analysis, Ansoff Matrix and McKinsey 7S Model on Amazon. Moreover, the report contains analyses of Amazon leadership, organizational structure and business strategy. The report also comprises discussions of Amazon marketing strategy, ecosystem and addresses issues of corporate social responsibility. Inc. Report 2022


[1] Mullaney, T. (2017) “5 key business lessons from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos” CNBC, Available at:

[2] Yohn, D.L. (2018) “Company culture doesn’t need to be “warm and fuzzy” to be effective” Quartz, Available at:

[3] Peterson A. (2021) “The top companies of 2021” LinkedIn, Available at:

[4] Guppta, K. (2016) “How Jeff Bezos Maintains Amazon’s Killer Company Culture” Strategyzer, Available at:

[5] Connley, C. (2018) “Jeff Bezos’ ‘two pizza rule’ can help you hold more productive meetings” CNBC, Available at:

[6] Annual Report (2018) Inc.

[7] Brown, A. (2017) “glamazon at Amazon: eighteen years of change” Working at Amazon, Available at:


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