Marysol Cázarez: Schein’s Model of Organizational Culture in Spetses, Greece

500 333 Ellen Ensher
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Marysol Cázarez in Greece

Spetses is an island that is three hours west of Athens. In all honesty, I had never heard of it before, but the idea of studying alongside the Greek shore was reason enough for me to sign up for this summer – study abroad. Spetses is an island of almost 4,000 people. In the past few weeks, I have learned about different Management and Organizational behavior concepts. In this blog post, I will be applying the Schein model of organizational culture to my personal observation of the Spetses Culture.

Edgar Schien defined organizational culture as the shared beliefs and values that make up a culture or group of people.


Schein’s model begins with artifacts. They are the easiest of the components to find, they are often observable behaviors or structures. One of the first observations on the island that I made was that every day all the shops close for a Siesta. From 200 pm – 530 pm, all the shops and restaurants are closed for people to go out and take a break. This observable observation or artifact gave me insight into Greek and Spetses-specific culture. I learned that in this culture there is a more prominent work-life balance. Many of the people on this island are even here for seasonal jobs. This shows how as a whole, they value life and family outside of work.


Values are attitudes shown, and we see their implications on culture and different establishments. I have observed a community that is extremely generous, hospitable, and leaves visitors feeling as if they are friends. After only a week and a half here in Spetses, I have made friends with the jewelry shop owners and their dog Choco! As well as, the waitress at my favorite restaurant on the island, Mosquito (unfortunate name, I know) knows as soon as we all walk in that we want 4 fredo cappuccinos, 3 special omelets, and 1 avocado toast, and as we leave she smiles, and says “see you next time!”

Basic assumptions

Finally, Basic assumptions, which are the most difficult to observe. I feel that my understanding after three weeks on the island has finally become clearer. Spetses is mostly visited during the summer when people come from the cities to get a seasonal job here. This is an island where families go to visit their grandparents and you see young kids walking alongside grandpa or grandma. I think this is an observation that can be easily missed, but also the most beautiful and fundamental.


The island welcomes visitors from all over the world, when we arrive on the island there were people all around making us feel like we are at home and welcomed. I have learned so much throughout my time on this island, but the life outside of work, generosity, and care for one’s community are only a few of the things that I will take with me for the rest of my life.