How Important Is Culture? A Second Look at Keller Williams Realty

How Important Is Culture? A Second Look at Keller Williams Realty

By David F. Larcker, Brian Tayan
April 12,2016Working Paper No. 3405

Keller Williams is one of the most successful real estate franchises in the world. The leaders of the company attribute its growth in large part to a cultural model that emphasizes profit sharing, interdependence, and success through the efforts of others. However, in general, the impact of culture on performance remains an open question. We conducted a large-scale survey of Keller Williams team members to understand how associates of Keller Williams view the company’s culture and whether perceptions of culture are associated with performance. We find evidence of an exceptionally strong and unique culture. We review our findings in detail and ask:

  • Does a company with a strong business model perform better if it also has a strong culture?
  • How important is it that associates feel their company “cares” about them?
  • What role does leadership play in shaping culture? What role does the average associate play?
  • Are there costs to having a strong culture?