organizational culture

Key Term and Why I Am Interested In It
I chose to research the role values play in an organization. Noting Schein’s work in the area of organizational culture, Hatch (1993) stated that “values are social principles, philosophies, goals, and standards considered to have intrinsic worth” by those upholding them. My interest in this area of research is based on my work as an organizational leader. Almost 18 months ago I accepted an executive position in an organization, and included in the scope of my role was a mandate to introduce organizational change at the cultural level. As I have been leading the organization through changes deemed essential or necessary to better realize our stated purposes and priorities, I have found that misaligned or misunderstood values quickly create real conflict in the organization. Therefore, I want to better understand how values fit within the culture of an organization, impacting the organization’s ability to fulfil its objects or mandate.

Explanation of the Key Term

Satterlee (2009) defines values as “generally accepted beliefs about what is right and wrong.” He continues:

Values are an interpretation of culture by societal members. A society derives its culture from its history and environment. The developed values of a society influence the members of the society. The values are a basis for developing social norms and decision making. (Satterlee, 2009)

As observed by Satterlee any values adhered to or upheld directly impact how a “society” (organization) behave by exercising actual influence in the outlook and attitudes of the “members” (individuals) forming the group. Furthermore, it has been suggested that as long as the “values are reasonably congruent with the underlying assumptions [of the group], then the articulation of those values into a philosophy of operating can be helpful in bringing the group together, serving as a source of identity and core mission.” (Schein, 2004)

Major Article Summary
In their article, Linking Personal and Organisational Values and Behaviour to Corporate Sustainability: A Conceptual Model, Avota, McFadzean andPeiseniece examined the relationship between individually held values and organizational ones. Specifically interested in any correlation between well aligned values and improved performance or productivity at the organizational level, Avota et al. presented a “persistent interaction” between individual and organizational values: “Research shows that corporate culture and corporate values that are congruent with personal values help employees feel more personal attachment towards the company and thus drive their motivation.” (Avota et al., 2015) In fact their research supported the conclusion that performance and productivity is greatly impacted by such congruence noting:

It is highly important to align personal values with organisational values since in case of misaligned values employees are working without passion, with less productivity or they may even leave the company. Employee commitment on organisational values makes a stronger organisational culture, encourages employees to work towards common goals and thus improves the sustainability of organisations. (Avota et al., 2015)

In addition, Avota et al. discovered that while it might seem that “market forces, competitive positioning, or resource advantages” create significant opportunities for an organization to succeed and surpass its competitors, alignment at this cultural level play a much greater role. Consequently, the role values play within an organization should not be too quickly dismissed or ignored. In their article, Avota et al. emphasize quite the opposite, stressing significant potential for improvement throughout an organization. Dempsey (2015) supports this assertion in Moral Responsibility, Shared Values, and Corporate Culture underlining the importance of values being held to across and throughout an organization so as “in order genuinely to influence the outputs of that organisation.” Regardless of the size of an organization, Dempsey argues, its values must be shared by those individuals within it.


  1. Initially it was my intention to understand how values drive decisions made on a daily basis within an organization. The cited work presented research on how values influence decision-making at varying levels of an organization. More than that it stated there exists a direct relationship to strongly held values and increased performance and productivity. Thus it occurs to me that the importance of values within an organization cannot be overstated. Moreover, I would contend that as an organizational leader it is essential that I strive to have a “truly shared” system of values among those in the organization:

For values to be truly shared, they must be more than advertising slogans. They must be deeply supported and broadly endorsed beliefs about what’s important to the people who hold them. Constituents must be able to enumerate the values and must have common interpretations of how those values will be put into practice. They must know how the values influence their own jobs and how they directly contribute to organizational success.” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007)

  1. Shared values also provide better clarity for leadership level decisions. InThe Influence of Top Managers’ Values on Corporate Social Performance: A Meta-Analysis, Le etal. (2015) presented how alignment at leadership levels affects decision-making with far reaching implications across an organization. Based on the research of the cited work shared values drive the leader’s decision making process (at every level of an organization’s leadership). It is the role of the leader to ensure actual alignment in the regular and extraordinary decisions made in an organization. (Visser & Kymal, 2015) Whereas it can be tremendously difficult to articulate the rationale behind decisions made (and sometimes quite inappropriate to even attempt to explain such decisions) it is critically important that a high level of confidence and trust in the leadership exist in an organization. How is such confidence and trust formed? It is built on a foundation of shared values.



Avota, S., McFadzean, E., & Peiseniece, L. (2015). Linking personal and

organisational values and behaviour to corporate sustainability: A conceptual model. Journal of Business Management, 10, 124-138.

Dempsey, J. (2015). Moral responsibility, shared values, and corporate culture.

Business Ethics Quarterly, 25(3), 319-340.

Hatch, M.J. (1993).The dynamics of organizational culture. Academy of Management

Review, 18(4), 657-693.

Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (2007) The leadership challenge. San Francisco, CA:

Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 9780787984922.

Le, S., Fuller, B., Muriithi, S., Walters, B., & Kroll, M.J. (2015). The influence of top

managers’ values on corporate social performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Managerial Issues, XXVII(1-4), 9-27.

Satterlee, B. (2009). Cross border commerce: With biblical worldview application.

Roanoke, VA: Synergistics. ISBN: 9781934748039

Schein, E.H. (2004) Organizational culture and leadership. San Franciso, CA: Jossey-

Bass. ISBN: 0787975974.

Visser, W. & Kymal, C. (2015). Integrated value creation: Beyond corporate social

responsibility and creating shared value. Journal of International Business, 8(1), 29-43.


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