The word "climate" has two essential meanings: the original meaning refers to the weather while the other is a metaphor in social psychology. The geographic-weather derivative can be helpful in the intuitive understanding of the concept.
From the weather standpoint, the climate consists of a group of persistent characteristics limited to a set geographical area; it describes the atmospheric conditions that characterise a specific region.
This concept, once transferred to the psycho-social field, also indicates a phenomenon that is manifested relatively persistently in a set group of individuals, through the "socio-psychological conditions" that characterise the group.
Applied to organisations, the climate can be associated with the organisation's atmosphere, the level of morale, the strength of emotions or belonging, the attention and favour of its members; it effects attitudes concerning their performance and interpersonal relations.
The climate provides an indication of the workers' feelings, their beliefs, what the organisation is, based on the perceptions of its members. Climate is a relatively durable quality of the environment in an organisation that:
- is experienced by all its members
- effects their behaviour
- can be described in terms of values in a certain set of characteristics
It thus represents the total overall perception that people have of their organisation, a global impression of all that the organisation is and represents.
Management is given the responsibility of creating a climate able to motivate people to work willingly and efficiently.