ARC Project profile: Culturalytics

Culturalytics, founded by Michael Muthukrishna, helps organisations achieve their goals by quantifying their culture. We chat with him to find out more.

This project profile is part of the Aspect Research Commercialisation (ARC) Accelerator, Class of 2021. ARC (formerly SUCCESS) is now on to it’s second cohort of university-based ventures seeking to change the world through their innovative, creative and disruptive ideas.

Q: What’s your academic background and how did it lead to starting your venture?

I’m currently an associate professor of economic psychology and my work sits at the intersection of psychological and behavioural science, economics, and evolutionary biology. 

I started my career as an engineer, applying psychology to engineering design but then I decided to go the other way. I wanted to use some of the tools and techniques that I’d learned in engineering to psychological and behavioural science. A big part of our psychology and behaviour is based on culture – the assumptions, beliefs and behaviours we acquire from where we’ve lived, what we studied, and which organizations we’ve worked with. And so a big part of my work has been developing a “science of culture”. 

I think most people recognize that culture is important. They know that different countries and different corporations and even different work groups can have different cultures and that these can have different outcomes. But it’s always a fuzzy thing that you can feel, but not measure. But now we can.

Q: What does your venture aim to achieve and how does it tackle the issue?

People talk about innovation cultures or healthy vs unhealthy cultures, but precisely what does that mean? How do you measure it and action it? That’s what Culturalytics is about. We’ve developed techniques for quantifying culture and we’ve shown how these predict psychological and behavioural differences around the world.

Once you measure your culture, you can use that information to increase innovation or improve the productivity of your employees; you can find the best fit for new hires or find out if two companies are culturally compatible. You can’t really do any of this until you can actually measure culture. That’s basically what we offer. 

“When all of these decisions are made, it’s easy to look at a company’s financial balance sheets, but you can’t look at their cultural balance sheets. We can provide that.”

Michael Muthukrishna, Culturalytics

Q: How is the ARC Accelerator program supporting you in bringing your venture to life?

Nobody has a complete picture of the world. Our collective intelligence comes from borrowing solutions from one space and bringing them to solve problems in another. ARC allows us to do that by drawing on multiple experts in multiple domains, and putting all the pieces together in the head of the entrepreneur. 

It’s been useful to know more about some of the nuances, constraints and opportunities in the business world as well as make connections with other experts.

Photo credit: fauxels via Pexels

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