In their article, entitled ‘Organizational values: a dynamic perspective’, Bourne and Jenkins (2013) look at building a framework for organisational values. They unpacked several studies that have been done on values within a corporate context. The authors identified that values can differ in their level as well as their orientation. Here is a visual representation:
Values’ orientation can either be embedded or intended. Embedded values refer to those that are ingrained in the organisation’s culture, where intended values refer more to a future or ideal state of being. Values can further be classified on two levels – aggregated-individual or collective-social. Based on value theories, individual values are cognitive expressions and often differ from the societal expectations or structures. Within specific social structures like organisational settings, values can also be expressions of social needs and group requirements.
Types of organisational/corporate values
Based on these different orientations and levels, Bourne and Jenkins (2013) identified four types of values that have been studied within organisational settings. The first of these are espoused values and they are on the intended collective level. These are values that are typically put forward by management which are in place to create a reputation for the company. These types of values are often not given credence by employees. The second type of values are attributed values which fall on the embedded collective side. These values are typically reflective of the history and brand of the company. In other words, they are ‘what the company is known for’ based on people’s interactions with and knowledge of the company. Moving down to the more individual values, which are clustered or aggregated, on the embedded side there are shared values. These are those values that co-workers share among themselves.
People will start to cluster together based on shared common values or interests within the organisation. Very often, these are dependent on discipline. Regularly, when people do not have the same values or if a person feels that their values are not being met, one will start seeing conflict and feelings such as frustration. In these situations, it may be valuable to have a discussion with that person in order to ascertain whether their role could be revised to meet their values. If these discussions do not bear fruit, that person will leave to find a better fit for themselves. The final form of values that we see in the article above are referred to as aspirational values. They reflect what current employees view as important values to drive the company into the future. They are at the aggregated level and often reflect those values that are important to the individuals in the company, but can also reflect industry trends. These values are not yet embedded into the company culture, but rather refer to an intended future position. The CoVaQ Values Culture Survey was built on the theory proposed by Bourne and Jenkins. It provides valuable insights into how these different levels and orientations of values can show where value misalignment is present in a company. Contact us for more information on how the CoVaQ Values Culture Survey can help you in your company.
Bourne, H., & Jenkins, M. (2013). Organizational values: a dynamic perspective. Organization Studies, 34 (4), 495-514. Doi: 10.1177/0170840612467155