Abraham Maslow’s (1970) Hierarchy of Needs is used as a theoretical framework because most of the values instruments are based on Maslow’s theory including Schwartz et al. (2001) Portrait Value System (PVS), which is used in the current research, and because the theory makes a clear link between values, needs, and motivation.
The pre-eminent values instruments are based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Baker 1996), e.g., Rokeach’s Value Survey, Kahle’s used in this study, and proprietary instruments of Stanford Research International’s Values and Lifestyles (VALS) and Cultural Dynamics Strategy Marketing Ltd.’s (CDSM) Values Modes (VMs), making Maslow’s theory the de facto “industry standard” definition of the structure of values. Moreover, Maslow’s theory makes a clear relationship between motivation and values, which makes it amenable to empirical research. As part of his theory on motivation, Maslow defined values as “a gratification of a need”. His proposed theory exploring how values are structured is now accepted by a variety of theorists (e.g., Rokeach 1979). Maslovian value groups will be used to categories respondents in the current research to gain insight into what integrity means for respondents with different value systems.
The overall research proposition was explored employing a survey of 500 UK adults. The methodology was positivistic, employing quantitative measures of individual’s values. The sample for the study was a representative sample using an incentives internet consumer panel against a quota representative of sex and age of 500 UK adults aged 18+ (see Table for sample statistics). Completed responses were accepted until the quotas were fulfilled. The survey was conducted by a market research firm (Global Market Insights Inc.) in January 2007 on behalf of CDSM.
There is no commonly agreed taxonomy of values. This is reflected in the diversity of values instrumentation. Schwartz et al.’s (2001) 10-value PVS was used because of its proven validity and reliability (Lindeman and Verkasalo 2005) as well as its being amenable to taking a theory-driven approach by categorising values using the Maslovian classification of Sustenance Driven, Outer and Inner Directed value groups. All 10 values surpass Nunnally’s (1978) 0.70 value guideline of reliability for the current research. Sub-component values or “portraits” of Schwartz et al.’s (2001) 10 values were analyses to gain finer granularity of the data and used for the purposes of this research. See Table for instrument design that summaries the main values of Schwartz et al.’s (2001) 10 values in bold outline and the “portrait” or sub values that make up the value below it. For example, self direction is made up of the sub-values of self choice and creativity.
To overcome the limitations of previous values research, a values system approach was used rather than relying on single values. To achieve convergent validity respondents were also categorized into the motivational groups of Inner Directed, Outer Directed or Sustenance Driven using the VM instrument developed by CDSM.
Findings and Interpretation: Value Systems, Integrity, and Some Implications for the Board
The relationship between Maslovian needs and Schwartz’s portrait values were investigated using multi-dimensional scaling. See Figure for the values map of the current research. The map reveals that:
The sheer complexity of modern organizations has favored the Inner Directed value system that is comfortable with and/or actively embracing ambiguity and change. Results from the current research (shown in Figure) show rejection of some of the key values in the Outer Directed and Sustenance Driven value systems, specifically rules, safety, national security, material wealth, and visible success.
Integrity from this values system is interpreted as “doing better things” (Burgoyne et al. 2005) or “stewardship” that a board’s principle job is to make sure that the company continues to benefit future generations. Espousing self choice indicates that integrity is closely aligned to “being true to oneself”. Espousing the value nature points to acting with integrity means creating shareholder value consistent with environmental sustainability.
An-slates into the need for greater dialogue, sessions of sitting and actively listening, and knowing that the “top” needs to hear from the “middle” and “bottom”. A clear distinction between means and ends and a focus on the latter is important to this value group. Next, the results of the Outer Directed value system and its relationship to integrity will be examined.
The next most prevalent value system likely to be found in boards is the Outer Directed segment. As new business models and concepts for “survival” and success have appeared, this value system has been highly prized by boards. Results from the research are shown in Figure and include the values of material wealth, visible ability, and visible success. This includes the rejection of many of the values espoused by the Inner Directed.
Integrity from this value system is defined as “doing things better”, which means whatever it takes to “win” (the ends). Espousing the values of visible ability and visible success,visibly winning is everything. Acting with integrity means increasing “shareholder value” where “value” means “money”. If that means taking risks, treading on a few toes, silencing opposition, or polluting a bit of land, air, or water for a generation or two, that’s OK in this value system. The ends (winning) justify the means. Finally, results from the Sustenance Driven value system and its impact on integrity will be examined.
Boards have given great weight to those who were Sustenance Driven: a safe pair of hands” who “stuck to the knitting”. Results from the research are shown in Figure and include the values of rules, propriety, and safety. This includes the rejection of the Outer and Inner Directed values of adventure, creativity, and visible success.
Integrity from this values system is defined as doing the “right” thing, which is laid down in the rules, procedures, and expectations of the company and (legal) society. Espousing the values of rules and propriety fiduciary duty will govern all other considerations in the boardroom except for survival, hence their natural inclination to hold the purse strings tight. Valuing safety means that “winning” is synonymous with not falling victim to the host of threats “out there”. Taking risks in the interests of success is very much a last resort.
Implication for the board agenda is that there will be a preference for keep things “normal and easy to understand” and the complexities of business at bay. Regarding feedback loops, due to belief in hierarchy and the “top down” nature of things, feedback with “subordinates” is pointless: those not on the board cannot know the big picture and, as a result, cannot help the board to make decisions. Having presented the findings of the Sustenance Driven, Outer and Inner Directed value systems and interpreted how they relate to integrity with some implications for the board agenda, the next section will summaries the three value systems of European managers.
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