This is essentially a textbook in organizational culture. But, unlike most textbooks authors, Professor Martin is making a contribution to the field in that she focuses on a way of looking at the field that is new. In the past, those who have studied organizational culture have usually done so from one of three perspectives: 1) "Integration" - all members of an organization share a consensus of values and purpose; 2) "Differentiation" - there are frequent conflicts among groups in organizations with limited consensus; 3) "Fragmentation" - there is considereable ambiguity in organizations with consensus coexisting with conflict, and much change among groups. The author argues that the best way to view organizations is to see them through all three perspectives - each revealing a different kind of truth. The author has done extensive research studying the organizational culture of a large California high technology firm (which is not identified in the book). She interviewed many employees at different levels and in different departments, and used surveys to extend the interviews.
Her work is like an ethnography in which the researcher's own perspectives and cultural norms have to be accounted for. As a result, the book explores what she learned from her studies and how she learned it.