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MIT Sloan Management Review and Glassdoor Introduce the ‘Culture 500’

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MIT Sloan Management Review and Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites, has introduced the Culture 500, a groundbreaking and first-ever online interactive tool that scientifically ranks and compares the corporate cultures of more than 500 of the most powerful companies driving the U.S. economy.

The Culture 500 applies sophisticated artificial intelligence technology to Glassdoor’s rich data to rank corporations based on nine cultural dimensions referred to as the “Big 9:” collaboration, integrity, agility, diversity, customer orientation, execution, innovation, performance, and respect.

Culture has significance for corporate performance. A growing body of research has shown that a good corporate culture is correlated with better financial performance, more innovation, and greater customer satisfaction. A toxic corporate culture can sink a company. Yet culture has historically been difficult to define and measure. In the absence of credible data on a company’s culture, managers have traditionally relied on anecdotes and personal observations to understand their organization’s culture.

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The Culture 500 tool, created by Donald Sull, an MIT Sloan School of Management senior lecturer and cofounder of CultureX, combines big data, artificial intelligence, and insights from existing research to quantify culture at scale.

“The use of AI and big data to quantify corporate culture across a large sample of companies is groundbreaking,” said Sull. “For the first time, we are able to measure corporate culture in a systematic way for some of the most powerful and influential companies in the world.”

The Culture 500 interactive tool is made possible through a partnership between two of the world’s leading organizations on corporate data, technology, and management strategy. Glassdoor is one of the world’s largest job and recruiting platforms with more than 49 million employee reviews and insights covering more than 900,000 employers. MIT Sloan Management Review is the premier publication on leading in a complex, technology-fueled era.

“According to Glassdoor data, company culture is among the top factors that job seekers consider as part of their job search,” said Glassdoor Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain, PhD. “We’re honored to use the power of our data on workplace culture in this collaboration with the astounding research team at MIT to uncover valuable insights that help employers understand the core elements defining corporate culture and build them into their organizations.”

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GROUNDBREAKING USE OF AI AND DATA TO EVALUATE CORPORATE CULTURE

To develop the Culture 500 tool, Sull and his team analyzed the free text responses from 1.2 million Glassdoor reviews from current and former employees using a natural language processing methodology that classifies text into more than 90 culture-related topics. The process combined insights from subject area experts with machine learning tools to build a dictionary of more than 20,000 highly accurate terms that indicated which aspect of culture an employee was discussing. Each company is assessed in terms of the percentage of employees who discuss one of the Big 9 values (incidence) and how favorably they assess it (sentiment).

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OPTIMUM USE OF THE CULTURE 500

The Culture 500 interactive tool allows users to construct their own customized set of companies and compare them along any of the Big 9 values. The figure below compares Amazon with companies from different industries — including Nordstrom, Disney Parks and Resorts, and the Four Seasons Hotels — that boast excellent reputations for customer centricity. In this visualization, each company’s sentiment for a value is expressed as a percentile of all companies in the sample, which allows direct comparisons across industries.

The interactive also offers a snapshot of culture within a company, in which users can view graphs with a horizontal axis that shows how frequently employees mentioned a specific value and a vertical axis that shows how positively they talked about that value, compared to the other Big 9 values.

Users can also compare companies to competitors on each of the Big 9 values. The figure above compares large information technology companies in terms of innovation. The horizontal axis measures how frequently agility is discussed within each company, and the vertical axis measures how positively (or negatively) employees view agility within their company.

“The Culture 500 shines a light on a million employee voices, pulling culture out of the shadows and transforming it into strategically rich, actionable data,” said Charles Sull, a lead researcher for The Culture 500 and cofounder of CultureX. “Whether you are an executive, manager, entrepreneur, board member, investor, employee, or job seeker, this tool offers a revolutionary framework for comparing corporate culture, evaluating fit, and identifying ways to improve.”

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