Analyses of planning and organizational culture are understudied within the social sciences. With an applied anthropological perspective on strategic planning and organizational change, we advanced a methodology for cultural theme theory and analysis. This methodology is applied to an analysis of the evolution of a new medical school over the past twenty years. Most cultural themes formulated in 1996 are recurrent narratives in 2015, continuing to inform goals, faculty hires, curricula, community programs, and organizational structures. Cultural theme longitudinal analysis indicates that strategic planning has an important role in directing organizational culture change. In terms of organizational theory, this analysis shows the power of cultural themes in guiding the emergence of organizational structures and programs. The categories and definitions of continuous, elaborated, transformed, diminished, or new themes provides an empirical way of assessing culture change as organizations emerge, elaborate, and transform. These categories operationalize cultural theme and schema theory (Opler 1945; Strauss 2007), facilitating the identification of themes as powerful social forces. This study provides a methodology to replicate and validate cultural theme theory in future studies.

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