The best definition I could find for corporate culture is from the 1000ventures.com Web site:
Culture refers to an organization's values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, it is concerned with beliefs and values on the basis of which people interpret experiences and behave, individually and in groups. Cultural statements become operationalized when executives articulate and publish the values of their firm, which provide patterns for how employees should behave. Firms with strong cultures achieve higher results because employees sustain focus both on what to do and how to do it.
Anyone who has worked in a corporation can relate to this definition of culture. It is obvious that if a company is going to succeed, it had better be competitive. I always liked it when Steve Ballmer would say, "We are not going to apologize for being competitive" or Bill Gates would say, "I never said that Microsoft would be a zero-profit company."
So let's borrow another definition from 1000ventures.com. This one is based on The Art of War by Sun Tzu, approximately 500 B.C.
Competitive philosophy is described as "The Way" or "The Path." In business, it is called "corporate culture" or, as a focus, the "company mission." Your core as competitor is your competitive philosophy. A clear philosophy makes decision making easier. Philosophy guides everything else you do in competition. Nothing is as important as having the right way of thinking. A competitor who has a strong philosophy is a strong competitor. Understanding your competitor's philosophy allows you to predict him.
Sun Tzu's two main issues regarding competitive philosophy are as follows:
A philosophy of people Your philosophy must be centered on people. Your goal must be to serve the people's needs. Every competitor's strength depends on the support of people.
Unity and focus Your philosophy is the source of your competitive focus and unity. Philosophy brings people together, uniting them into an effective group. Philosophy also provides your focus that tells you what is important now. Having people united and focused is the source of all strength.
Ideas of changing cultures have been around probably as long as humans. What worked in 500 B.C. probably still works today, or at least the definition applies. Note that both definitions talk about focusing the company in order to succeed.
Now that we have clarified what we are talking about, to understand how you can change the culture of your corporation or group, you must first understand who is shaping the corporate culture.