Uber Organizational Culture: a brief overview

By John Dudovskiy
July 19, 2021

Uber organizational culture has been associated with sexual harassment and discrimination during the leadership period of co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick. In June 2017 the global transportation technology company “fired more than 20 employees after a company investigation into sexual harassment claims and workplace culture.”[1]

Uber company culture crisis has resulted into the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick. Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, has successfully led internet travel company Expedia for 12 years. Mr.  Khosrowshahi had an important task of sophisticating Uber organizational culture so that the ride-hailing giant can improve its image and eventually become profitable.

Uber Organizational Culture

Change management of Uber organizational culture initiated by Dara Mr.  Khosrowshahi can be explained applying Lewin’s Model of Culture. The model divides change management in organizational culture into 3 stages:

Stage 1: Unfreezing. During this stage, the necessity of cultural changes for the long-term growth prospects of the company needs to be explained to employees at all stages. Khosrowshahi had dealt with this stage effectively. The new CEO stressed the importance of appropriate organizational culture in a majority of meetings with internal and external stakeholders.

Moreover, “Uber’s new CEO had employees write and vote on cultural guidelines for the workplace”[2]. In total about 12000 employees voted and the results of voting determined underlying principles for Uber’s new organizational culture.

Stage 2: Implementing changes. According to results of the voting discussed above, new principles of Uber organizational culture have been developed as the following[3]:

  • We build globally, we live locally.
  • We are customer obsessed.
  • We celebrate differences.
  • We do the right thing.
  • We act like owners.
  • We persevere.
  • We value ideas over hierarchy.
  • We make big bold bets.

Stage 3: Refreezing. Uber is attempting to promote its new culture to all organizational stakeholders in general and employees in particular.  The global transportation technology company has developed its online classes led by SVP of Leadership and Strategy. The classes are aimed at promoting Uber organizational culture, along with increasing employees overall knowledge about strategy.[4]

It is important to note that due to its business model, corporate culture of Uber always will be work in progress.  The global taxi technology company relies on third-party drivers, i.e. independent contractors to provide its services to end-users. Arguably, it is more difficult to influence the behaviour of independent contractors compared to employees and accordingly, the senior management will have to invest continuous effort to develop and sustain appropriate organizational culture at Uber.

Uber Technologies Inc. Report contains the above analysis of Uber 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 Uber. Moreover, the report contains analyses of Uber leadership, organizational structure and business strategy. The report also comprises discussions of Uber marketing strategy, ecosystem and addresses issues of corporate social responsibility.

Uber Technologies Inc. Report 2021.

[1] Solon, O. (2017) “Uber fires more than 20 employees after sexual harassment investigation” The Guardian, Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/06/uber-fires-employees-sexual-harassment-investigation

[2] Balakrishnan, A. (2017) “Uber employees voted on the new company culture — and it looks a lot like Google and Amazon” CNBC, Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/07/ubers-new-cultural-norms.html

[3] Khosrowshahi, D. (2017) “Uber’s new cultural norms” Linked In, Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ubers-new-cultural-norms-dara-khosrowshahi

[4] Carson,B. (2017) “Inside Uber’s Effort To Fix Its Culture Through A Harvard-Inspired ‘University’” Forbes, Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bizcarson/2018/02/03/inside-ubers-effort-to-fix-its-culture-through-a-harvard-inspired-university/#53e7c0b51695


Category: Culture