Do you think HR is the owner of Culture in the Organization or HR is a mere agent of Culture ?

big-vs-little-sumo
Beginning of my career in HR  i made it a habit of doing “Floor Walking” every morning and i must say in the initial year’s i felt it was a “Punishment” since i was asked to do the same by Head – HR ,but later i started enjoying it and i must admit that, it was during this time i learnt
(a) “how employees had different perception of the same issues”
(b) Employees has to be taken and respected as individuals
(c) Employees can be engaged and can be energized for better productivity
(d) You will know the exact pulse of the employees, which in a way help in many ways.
During one of the recent floor walking i over heard one of the employee saying “this company sucks” in GE -Energy how good the culture is” after overhearing this i casually went to him and tried to check with what was his concern and i learnt that concern was not anything but HR even though admin is the process owner of his concerns -no good food at canteen, Tea Machines sucks, Transport Driver’s behavior is very rude etc. During this discussion with the employee i was asked this question ” Is the HR responsible for culture , Is HR the custodian or Agent or Owner of the Organization Culture “
I tried to check with my few colleagues from social media communities and some of them responded with their experience and thoughts and i am sharing few of them with you  all ….
Director at THE METANOIA CONSULTING
Culture is pioneered by the founder of the organization. HR dept sustains the founder’s vision.
VP | Director Human Resources
HR can embrace the culture, can lead by example, can lead the employee selection process, and facilitate a change in culture, however culture must resonate from the Mission, Vision an Values and all of the leadership must follow those guiding lights. When leaders stray from those beliefs or never buy into them from the first place then so do the rest of the employees and the culture changes. Though ever so slowly it does change and turning it around is a monumental task IF it actually can be turned around.
Vice President – Human Resources & Administration
The company culture is the vision of the management. It starts from the top. HR is a facilitator or an agent. HR does not decide the culture of the company. He implements the vision of the management / company.
Independent Human Resources Professional
1. Defining the culture (usually articulated by the founders or leadership team in an organization – as also mentioned by Rajeswaran)
2.Permeating the culture throughout the organization – here is where HR possibly has a large role to play .In my opinion , HR plays a key role in drawing linkages between the culture are employee touch points e..g what would the ideal new employee – culture fit be, how can the performance management system be defined to reflect / drive key behaviors articulated in by the desired culture.
3. The greatest impact on propagating culture in the organization , is felt by the actions of the Leadership . When the leaders in the organization relentlessly practice the culture and consistently “walk the talk” is when I think that the desired culture is nurtured and thrives in the organization.
I think HR is a critical agent in driving the culture in the organization with the leadership team being an owner of sorts for demonstrating the culture, setting an example for the organization to follow and also driving the culture through .
Manager – HR at Spectranet (group company of Shyam Telecom)
HR acts as both the agent ,owner and a catalyst in developing and bringing out changes in the culture of the organisation from time-to-time.  With the progressive approach , HR advice the top management of the changes to be brought about in an organisations’ culture and values which directly affects the organisation and individuals.
It is the efforts of the HR to awaken people to follow the culture and percolate down further.
Helping companies in the area of human capital Analytics
HR is the owner of the culture though it can be influenced by many things….HR should facilitate & direct culture change based on the impact its making on the business…there are ways to measure the current culture & the desired culture,  http://www.piworldwide.com/News-Events/News/2011/August/Talent-Management-B…
Content Creator and Technical Writer
During intake, HR is key to introducing new employees to organizational culture, but after that, the daily example and reinforcement takes place in the various organizational members. HR, using occasional campaigns and other instruments such as events and posters, can continue to promote the organizational culture, but this may be a cost they choose not to undertake.  Let’s not forget the valuable role that corporate portals can provide in this area.
Real-World IT Business Communications Skills Consultant, Speaker, Author, and Blogger
How about asking a different question — just exactly where does a company’s culture come from? I believe that it comes from the people who are telling you what to do. How they do this and what they tell you to do are the keys to determining what a company’s culture will be. HR might be able to communicate what the company’s culture is, but they certainly don’t own it…
Recruiting Specialist at RFT Staffing
HR is sort of like the Ambassador to the Culture. They are the ones who, during recruitment, interviewing and on boarding, assist in assessing the individuals based on cultural fit to the company (among other things). HR often gives feedback and insight that some of the hiring managers miss because they are focused on the highlights on the resume.
To say that HR defines the culture is sort of like the tail wagging the dog. I am not sure I would want to work somewhere where HR dictates the culture. Where is the leadership in that company?
Management Consultant, Career and Leadership Mentor
I think the top management team  is the owner of “culture” and that it is the responsibility of each team and the employees to live the culture every day. Also their needs to be a mechanism for challenging the culture because it should be a living, breathing concept – not static. HR is just one of the “owners” of culture as a functional area.
Design, concept and visualizing services
In practical terms there seem to be two overlapping cultures appearing as one. The first is the promoted culture, it might have process or aspirations attached to it, and the other is the meat by-product arising out of the unique chemistry of individuals involved. Sometimes that are broadly in line, sometimes separated. HR can help create or shape the former, but has to navigate or follow the latter as best as it can.
On Demand CFO & Turnaround Executive
Culture is created originally by the company’s founders. Founders consciously (and to often, subconsciously) shape their company’s culture to conform to their own personal values. Focusing on growing a company centered around the founder’s values requires insight and discipline. Look to Apple, Zappos, or Starbucks as examples where the founders have consciously cultivated their own values into their company’s culture.
There are some HR people who make a living by telling organizations what they need to do to change their culture. Unfortunately there is little you can do change the underlying DNA without massive staff replacement. HR can better serve by understanding the company culture and perpetuating its strong points by hiring only those with personal values that will support the culture and exiting those don’t.
Multi-site Human Resources Manager
What’s the difference between owning the culture and being an agent of culture? Maybe that’s the problem for many in HR, they see themselves as agents but don’t take accountability for the results.
Business Operations and Business Change Management Professional
HR is at best the agent of culture and certainly is not the owner.
Company culture is all about people and is influenced by the leaders within any organization regardless of where they are within the corporate hierarchy.  Company culture is defined by strict values based on integrity, dignity and respect, these values are best practised and communicated by the leaders who work with the people on a tangible basis every day. HR’s role is intangible and theoretical.
HR, like every other department, needs to embody the culture. The culture is generally set by the owner, but it is up to each manager to ensure that the culture in their department is positive, proactive and embraces the company values. HR should be the role model for others in this area as they lead the way with “people” initiatives. I don’t believe they are the “owners” of the culture, instead they are the executors of the culture.
Life Coach, Anthropologist, Business Consultant
HR is a function of a business or non-profit organization which all businesses greater than a sole proprietorship must perform. Initially it is one of many roles an individual owner must perform if s/he is to hire and oversee employees. Once the organization can afford to create a status (job) and a role (job description) to hire someone to take charge of the HR function then that person becomes an agent of the owner(s) of the organization.As agent of the owners, the HR person and eventually HR department, is also an agent of the corporate culture. It function is to find, train, and administer that culture as it applied to the organization’s human resource requirements. These requirements serve as the basis of the organization’s corporate culture.Culture follows from Vision and Mission. Organizational Vision and Mission follows from ownership. Agency follows from function.Long story short — HR is a Cultural Agent of the Organization, along with the Marketing Department, Finance Department, and Production/Operations Department.
Internal Audit Consultant Former Chief Audit Executive Former Member , Board of Research & Education IIA Global U.S.
Values & Culture of an Organization stems from the dreams / vision of the Founder Group.
Organization value – culture is not a Policies & Procedures document written by somebody in the organization.
These get evolved , nourished and demonstrated by the Owners so that the entire organization follows them.
These have to be understood, accepted & practiced by all who want to be employed in that organization.
HR therefore is the main conduit to transmit these to all .  All individual employees should become change agents in this mission. Culture cannot be taught but has to be imbibed by the person who wants to follow it.
Business Analysis, Project and Change Management Consulting Services
Culture is the manifestation of the collective attitudes, intentions, desires, folk lore of the collective group of people that are the organisation. It is the mechanics of a civilisation, it cannot be owned, it is what is, it can be influenced by persuasion and coercion of the members of the organisation to new habits and shared expectations and behaviours, through vision, performance targets, changes in communication activity and channels, reward incentives, restructures, it should be understood by HR, and HR should have methods of monitoring and influencing it, just as leaders and owners and other highly directional influencers do, but it is a charecteristic of the organisation, and cannot belong to, be owned by a sub set group. They can have their own sub culture at best.
Strategy, Finance & Operations Executive
I think it really depends on the organization. HR can be many different things depending on the organization’s needs.
In reality, the people own the culture although they will rarely admit it. There is no way that a department or even a small group of individuals “own” the culture and/or have the power to change it.
The only way that happens is if the people give up their power and allow it to happen. Culture is determined by the greater majority of the company and that is the issue that most organizations face when they try to change it.
Managing Director, Owner
The embodiment of culture cannot be assigned to one function or another. Culture is a pervasive environmental element that is made up of the perceived underlying qualities displayed by the organizations leadership. It’s almost the unspoken theme communicated unwittingly by those that hold the spotlight.
Retired Aerospace Contracts Manager, MicroMentor Volunteer and Founder “Smalltofeds”
The HR function is being phased out in a classic sense and begin taken over by other functions in modern ERP. The data is shared, focused and acted upon by the hiring managers, not HR specialists. This is a sign of the times in high tech business processes and systems.HR is reinventing and redefining itself as we speak. It must step out of many old molds and bring true value to the organization or it will cease to exist.
HR is The Enforcer of “CULTURE” within the organization… ;)
GM at TSP
It is the responsibility of the organization to institutionalize the culture.Project managers play better role than HR people in most successful organizations.
Operations Manager- RISHI RPO 
HR ought to be the owner of “culture” in the organization, however, in modern time and the type of set up that we operate in, it is the responsibility of every single individual to create the right kind of organizational culture.
Enterprise Risk expert, Six Sigma Champion, PMP, Visionary strategist for emerging markets
Every member of the top management and the staff is a shared owner of the ‘culture’. the top mgmt being responsible for driving it and keeping it focused towards its objectives. HR is an agent like and other department but also has an additional responsibility here. HR being the employee related department has the authority and skills to (design a best culture) for their organization and get the top management support. Once the change is launched, HR should drive the program and guide and support the rest of the heads and leaders through constantly. Staff will always listed to HR versus other departments since HR is employee friendly for them.
Programme, Project & Change expert
The organization as a whole “owns” the culture. Change agents for this can be HR, but it is rare as they are seen as too involved in certain aspects of it and lack the overall vision.
Value Chain Solutions ( India) Pvt. Ltd.
The culture of organization purcolates from top to bottom. The transformation of culture can happen if management wishes too. HR can play pivot role in such transformation.
Consulting to exceed customer expectations
It depends on the CEO’s mindset and the competence of HR professionals in the firm
Webinar Expert – Creating, Delivering, Marketing & Leveraging them to build your business!
I think that neither of those things are true.The best definition I have seen of culture – attributed to Marvin Bower of the McKinsey organization – was “Culture is the way we do things around here.” Given that definition, which makes perfect sense in my experience, culture just “is” … no one owns it or agents it or champions it or does anything else to it. The only way to change it, is to change “the way we do things around here” … and probably the best way to celebrate it, is to publicize examples.
Senior Career Management Consultant at Grassik Consultants
The “Owner(s)” of Culture in any organization will always be the TOP management. HR is more like a “Guardian” of the Culture and “Facilitator” of “Change”. The “Agents” of culture would typically be the Senior / mid management.
I must thank all the respondents to my query and answered, and i find this question interesting and looked forward to do some kind of research, will be posting my secondary research details shortly …………….