The health care system in Saudi Arabia has faced a variety of problems affecting its services, especially in the management area, for example in coordination, duplication of services, authority and leadership. These problems have resulted in patients having difficulty accessing services, in long waiting lists, in medical malpractice and in dissatisfaction among patients and employees. At fault appears to be the organisational culture in the Saudi public sector. To understand this culture and to be able to change it in a positive way, this study applies the Competing Values Framework (CVF) to health care providers in Saudi Arabia. Since this application goes beyond the original Western context of the CVF, it is important to analyse the national culture of Saudi Arabia. Using a critical application of Hofstede's framework, it was characterised by high power distance, collectivism, femininity and risk aversion. The organisational culture of the health service and its hospitals reflects these societal characteristics. Application of the CVF revealed a balance between the four types of organisational culture in the Saudi health care provision, in both the current and preferred situations. The findings also revealed that a hierarchy culture had slight prevalence when compared to other types in the current situation, while clan culture was slightly more prevalent in the preferred situation. To improve Saudi health care provision, a balance and a uniform strengthening of the four types of cultures (clan, adhocracy, market and hierarchy) is required. The findings of the research will be of use across Arab countries in a variety of public service settings. In addition, this research makes a considerable addition to a rather sparse stock of empirical studies in the management of culture in the Arab Gulf states.