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Organisations, whether they are private, public or NGOs have a set of values, whether or not they are written down. This study identifies, classifies, and discusses corporate values statements using companies that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The sample companies had 51 value classes, which were then grouped into seven value dimensions: commitment to customers, commitment to stakeholders, commitment to employees, commitment to diversity, commitment to integrity, entrepreneurship, and social 150 M. Tessema et al. responsibility. On the average, they had about six publicised corporate values statements. This study also discusses the theoretical and practical implications of the findings and proposes an agenda for future research directions.
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Int. J. Corporate Governance, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2019 149
Copyright © 2019 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Analysis of corporate value statements:
an empirical study
Mussie Tessema*
Department of Business Administration,
Winona State University,
175 W. Mark street, Winona, MN, 55987, USA
Email: Mtessema@winona.edu
*Corresponding author
Parag Dhumal
Department of Business,
University of Wisconsin-Parkside,
900 Wood Rd, Kenosha, WI 53144, USA
Email: Dhumel@uwp.edu
Daniel Sauers
Department of Business Administration,
Winona State University,
175 W. Mark street, Winona, MN, 55987, USA
Email: Dsauers@winona.edu
Sebhatleab Tewolde
Faculty of Health and Social Work,
Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences,
Zeißelstraße 42, 60318 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Email: kelati@fb4.fra-uas.de
Paulos Teckle
Department of Business Economics,
University Canada West,
675 W 10th Ave., Vancouver, BC V5Z 1L3, Canada
Email: pteckle@bccrc.ca
Abstract: Organisations, whether they are private, public or NGOs have a set
of values, whether or not they are written down. This study identifies,
classifies, and discusses corporate values statements using companies that are
listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The sample companies had 51 value
classes, which were then grouped into seven value dimensions: commitment
to customers, commitment to stakeholders, commitment to employees,
commitment to diversity, commitment to integrity, entrepreneurship, and social
150 M. Tessema et al.
responsibility. On the average, they had about six publicised corporate values
statements. This study also discusses the theoretical and practical implications
of the findings and proposes an agenda for future research directions.
Keywords: corporate value; vision; mission; statement; classification;
dimensions; strategy; culture; companies; New York Stock Exchange.
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Tessema, M., Dhumal, P.,
Sauers, D., Tewolde, S. and Teckle, P. (2019) ‘Analysis of corporate value
statements: an empirical study’, Int. J. Corporate Governance, Vol. 10, No. 2,
pp.149–164.
Biographical notes: Mussie Tessema is a Professor of HR Management at
Winona State University, MN. He has presented numerous research papers at
national and international conferences. His research has been published in
several journals such as the International Journal of HRM, International
Journal of HRDM, International RAS, and Review of Public Personnel
Administration.
Parag Dhumal is an Associate Professor of Business at the University of
Wisconsin-Parkside, WI. He has presented numerous research papers at
national and international conferences. His research has been published in
several journals such as International Journal of Education and Social Science,
Journal of Academy of Business and Economics, and European Journal of
Business and Social Sciences.
Daniel Sauers is a Professor of Management at Winona State University. He
has presented numerous research papers at national and international
conferences. His research has been published in several journals such as
Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, International Journal of
Human Resource Development and Management, and Journal of Academic
Research in Economics.
Sebhatleab Tewolde is an Associate Professor of Accounting at Frankfurt
University. He has presented numerous research papers at national and
international conferences. His research has been published in several journals
such as International Journal of Business and Management Research, Global
Journal of Commerce and Management Perspective, International Review of
Management and Business Research, and Journal of Business and
Management.
Paulos Teckle is a Senior Health Economist at the Canadian Centre for Applied
Research in Cancer Control (ARCC), British Columbia Cancer Agency,
Canada and an Assistant Professor in the School of Population and Public
Health at the University of British Columbia. He is also an Assistant Professor
at the University Canada West, Vancouver, BC, Canada. He has presented
numerous research papers at national and international conferences.
This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper entitled ‘Analysis of
corporate value statements: an empirical study’ presented at Multidisciplinary
Research Conference, Jerusalem, 20 May 2018.
Analysis of corporate value statements 151
1 Introduction
Although organisations need many resources (e.g., human, financial, and physical), the
presence of clear vision, mission, and value statements has significant impact in realising
organisational objectives and goals for they have their own distinct function in the
strategic planning process (Drucker, 2001; SHRM, 2012; Weiss, 2015; Wenstop and
Myrmel, 2006). The question is: What do we mean by the above three statements? While
a mission statement describes an organisation’s purpose and answers the following two
questions: What business is an organisation in and what is its business for, a vision
statement provides strategic direction and describes what the owner or founder wants the
organisation to achieve in the future (SHRM, 2012). While the vision statement sets the
tone for the corporate culture (Welch and Welch, 2009); a mission statement builds on
the vision statement and ties into the organisation’s strategic plans (Lindblad, 2017). A
value statement, on the other hand, is a declaration that informs the customers and staff of
a business about the company’s top priorities and what its core beliefs are (Roth, 2013;
Markgraf, 2016) and describes organisation’s standards of behaviour (Kelly et al., 2004).
Hence, values are the ideals and principles, which guide the thoughts and behaviour of an
organisation towards the future (Blanchard and Stoner, 2004). Although this study will
highlight vision and mission statements related issues, its focus is on corporate values
statements.
Organisations, whether they are private, public or NGOs have a set of values, whether
or not they are written down. Even if organisations do not explicitly spell out their values,
they still use them to guide their actions (Anderson and Jamison, 2015; SHRM, 2012;
Tyson, 2015). Hence, values may be unstated, but they play an important role in
determining how the organisation confronts problems and issues (Norman, 2016). Put
another way, although not all organisations have publicised values statements, they all
have values that direct the behaviour of the organisational members. When an
organisation writes down its values, it lays out its expectations of behaviours for
organisational members. However, not all organisations create or uphold a value
statement. Although most mid and large organisations have written vision, mission, and
value statements, recent studies have questioned the validity of those values statements
(Weiss, 2015; Anderson and Jamison, 2015).
According to SHRM (2012), management cannot create a new values statement and
expect the values simply to become core values for the organisation. For an organisation
to have an effective values statement, it must fully embrace its values and use them to
guide its attitudes, actions, and decision-making daily. Moghal (2012) also notes that
some if not all of the value statements will have been the result of earnest and meaningful
executive and non-executive soul searching on away days. The values of senior leaders
are especially important in the development of corporate culture (Regan, 2012).
While this study discusses issues related to values statements, the focus is mainly on
identifying, describing, and classifying the most widely used corporate value statements
based on 249 publicly-traded companies.
1.1 Research questions
This study intends to answer the following research questions:
152 M. Tessema et al.
Do publicly-traded companies have written value statements?
What types of corporate values statements do publicly-traded companies have?
What are the most common types of corporate values statements?
How can corporate values statements be categorised?
What are the theoretical and practical implications of the findings?
The study consists of five sections. After the introduction, Section 2 presents an overview
of different issues of corporate values statements. Section 3 describes the research
methods used. Sections 4 and 5 present the empirical results of the study and discuss the
findings. Finally, the conclusions, implications and future research direction are
discussed in Section 6.
2 Literature review
One of the important requirements for an effective organisation is the presence of three
clearly stated or explicit statements: mission, vision, and values (Mathis et al., 2017).
Each statement has its own distinct function in the strategic planning process. A mission
statement explains the company’s reason for existence (Cult Branding Company, 2014).
To build a solid foundation for a successful organisation, it is essential to have a written,
clear, concise, and consistent mission statement that explains who you are and why you
exist (Drucker, 2001). Mission-driven companies have 30% higher levels of innovation
and 40% higher levels of retention (Bersin, 2015). A vision provides a focal point for the
future; it tells the company where it is headed (Welch and Welch, 2009).
Value statements are declarations about how the organisation wants to value their
customers, suppliers and be valued within their own internal community. Such value
statements explicitly define how people will behave with each other in the organisation
(Arnold, 2012; Wenstop and Myrmel, 2006). A values statement defines the deeply held
beliefs and principles of the organisational culture. These core values are an internalised
framework that is shared and acted on by the organisation (SHRM, 2012). Core values
define what an organisation stands for, highlighting an expected and ultimate set of
behaviours and skills (Anderson and Jamison, 2015; Cult Branding Company, 2014).
Values are enduring beliefs or concepts that relate to desirable behaviour and are
influenced by attitudes, interests, and preferences, but are more stable and less easily
changed (Markgraf, 2016). Values describe the desired culture (Kenny, 2014). Words
describing company values sum up what a business believes in and practices. According
to McNamara (2014), values represent the core priorities in the organisation’s culture,
including what drives members’ priorities and how they truly act in the organisation.
Regan (2012) underscored that having clear and defined values is often the first step in
the process of strategic planning. Collins (2001) contends that people frequently confuse
timeless core values with aspirations of what they would like to see the organisation
becomes in the future. Therefore, organisations should not mix future aspirations into
their true and authentic core values, as this will create justifiable cynicism and destroy the
power of their core values. Hence, they should leave those future ideas in the vision
statement.
Analysis of corporate value statements 153
2.1 Types of corporate value statements
There are several types of corporate value statements, and they differ from company to
company. Values statements can be general and specific. While general value statements
are generic such as integrity, valuing employees, fairness and diversity, trust and honesty;
specific value statements are values that include explicit descriptions of how a business
pursues its principles (Cult Branding Company, 2014; McNamara, 2014). Value
statements may include general principles, such as a commitment to the environment, fair
treatment of employees, charitable work within a community or service to an industry or
profession (Arnold, 2012). For example, the six core values of Procter & Gamble are
‘people, leadership, ownership, integrity, trust, and passion for winning’; the five values
of Humana are ‘inspire health, cultivate uniqueness, rethink routine, pioneer simplicity,
and thrive together’; the four core values of Wells Fargo are ‘ethics, customer
satisfaction, leadership and personal accountability, and diversity’; the three core values
of Walmart are ‘excellence, customer service, and respect for employees’; the three core
values of McDonald’s are ‘quality, consistency, and cleanliness’; the six values of Xerox
are ‘customer satisfaction, quality and excellence, premium return on assets, use of
technology for market leadership, valuing employees, and corporate citizenship’; and the
eight core values of Pfizer are ‘integrity, innovation, respect for people, customer focus,
teamwork, leadership, performance, and community’. Generally speaking, values can be
related to the following categories: employees, customers, shareholders, and community
(McNamara, 2014).
According to Arnold (2012), a value statement should have three components: The
name of the value, a clarifying statement or definition and few key behavioural attributes.
Cult Branding Company (2014) contends that while a one-word value might be easier to
remember, it is difficult for a single word to become a distinct expression of an
organisation’s culture. More importantly, it is incredibly difficult for a single-word value
to trigger an emotional response with an organisational workforce. Highlighting values
into memorable phrases or sentences can force an organisation to define the meaning
behind each value more succinctly.
2.2 Classification of corporate value statements
Although some researchers (e.g., Fredrickson and Branigan, 2005; Kelly et al., 2004;
Prosvirkina, 2012; Schwartz, 2012) have grouped corporate values statements under
different categories, in this study, corporate value statements are grouped into the
following seven value dimensions: commitment to customers, commitment to employees,
commitment to shareholders, commitment to diversity, commitment to integrity, social
responsibility, and entrepreneurship. Put differently, although there are many kinds of
value statements and were classified under different categories (e.g., Fredrickson and
Branigan, 2005; Kelly et al., 2004; Guiso et al., 2015), in this study, we have grouped
them into seven categories or dimensions. By commitment to customers, we are referring
to an organisational commitment to customers. It is believed that customers are king and
thus without satisfying the demands of customers, it would be hard to compete and win in
the prevailing tough market competition (Drucker, 2001). By commitment to employees,
we are referring to an organisational commitment to the workforce. Employees are not
simply cost factors but are important assets that can provide a competitive advantage
(Pfefer, 1994; Mathis et al., 2017). By commitment to shareholders, we are referring to
154 M. Tessema et al.
an organisational commitment to enhancing the interests and values of stakeholders. By
commitment to diversity, we are referring to an organisational commitment to workforce
diversity and inclusion. In an increasingly competitive economy where talent is crucial to
improving organisational performance, pooling from the largest and most diverse set of
candidates is increasingly necessary to succeed in the market (Burns and Kerby, 2012;
Griffin and Moorhead, 2014; Waweru, 2018). By commitment to integrity, we are
referring to an organisational commitment to ensuring business is conducted in a way that
promotes ethical behaviour and legal compliance (Shikha and Mishra, 2019). By social
responsibility, we are referring to an organisational commitment to social responsibility,
which is the idea that businesses should balance profit-making activities with activities
that benefit society and involves developing businesses with a positive relationship to the
society in which they operate (Arora and Bhandari, 2017; Dahlsrud, 2008). By
entrepreneurship, we are referring to an organisational commitment to entrepreneurship,
which in turn affect organisational performance (Moghaddam et al., 2015).
2.3 Benefits of corporate value statements
A publicly accessible and authentic corporate value statement can positively impact
employee recruitment and retention (Arnold, 2012; Kelly et al., 2004), enable outsiders to
understand the beliefs and principles of the company (Norman, 2016), motivate and
reinforce productive behaviours inside the company (Markgraf, 2016; Moss, 2017),
provide a powerful directional force for unifying and coordinating actions and decisions
to ensure the optimal use of resources (Horwath, 2005), provide basic information about
how the company operates and about its perspectives on ethical problems (Norman,
2016), increase employees willingness to exert extra efforts (Blanchard and Stoner
(2004), energise companies toward positive business outcomes and give them a
significant advantage over their competitors (Drucker, 2001), help attract the right people
to companies (Weiss, 2015), serve as the cornerstone of corporate ideology (Kelly et al.,
2004), guide the perspective of the company as well as its actions (Tyson, 2015), act as a
branding mechanism to tell stakeholders about the company (Anderson and Jamison,
2015, Arnold, 2012), form an ethical foundation for the company which then guide the
behaviour of company’s workforce (Wenstop and Myrmel, 2006), improve employee
engagement, which can be seen as a means of getting employees to do more for less
(Kelly et al., 2004), help remind employees about company’s priorities and goals and
what is expected of them (Tyson, 2015), help a company define its culture and beliefs
(Norman, 2016), help employees identify with and connect to targeted consumers
(Drucker, 2001), help in making difficult decisions, prioritising resources, reducing
internal conflict, differentiating the brand, and attracting the right breed of customers
(Cult Branding Company, 2014).
2.4 Required number of corporate value statements
While having too few values statements may not capture all the desired behaviours and
unique dimensions of an organisation, having too many values statements may get
employees overwhelmed and may lose their overall impact. The Cult Branding Company
(2014) argues that, while the number of core values differs for each organisation, the
range seems to be between five and ten. Arnold (2012) and Horwath (2005) further
propose that organisations should have three to five values for they tend to lose focus and
Analysis of corporate value statements 155
energy as well as it is hard to have hold people accountable to multiple values. Horwath
(2005) also contends that a laundry list of more than five values becomes unwieldy to use
in the day-to-day decision-making process. Blanchard and Stoner (2004) posit that people
cannot focus on more than four values in their work environment or will not really have
an impact on behaviour. They also noted that, in reality, most organisations either have
too many values or they have not rank ordered them. For instance, according to The
Great Place to Work Institute’s (2014) study, the sample companies had between 2 and
15 values in their values statements, with the typical organisation having an average of
just under five stated values.
3 Research methodology
3.1 Description of the data collection process
This study uses corporate value statements from 249 publicly traded companies, which
were selected randomly. These corporate values statements were extracted from the
websites of the sample companies. A corporate website typically has one or more
sections dedicated to the company’s values. All the corporate values statements listed in
all these sections were collected, maintaining the wording used by the company. The
sample companies had a set of core values, each of which was further articulated and
explained through other keywords to clarify its meaning. This clustering of values was
maintained as units of meaning, grouped all the keywords used by the company to
describe a single value. The data was collected in April 2016. Once the data collection
was completed, an aggregation process was started to identify the main values and
classify them into a few categories or dimensions.
3.2 Description of the classification process
In conducting this study, we used value statements from 249 companies that are listed on
the New York Stock Exchange. The 249 companies had 1,419 values statements, which
were then categorised into 51 value classes. The 51 value classes were then grouped into
seven value dimensions (Table 1). 39 of the 1,419 value statements did not fit the seven
value dimensions and thus were deleted. This study is therefore based on the sample of
1,380 value statements of 249 companies. When we analysed the 1,419 value statements,
we looked at commonly occurring words or phrases. Built in excel functions are used to
find repeated words or to count repeated words in the column of value statements. We
also looked at repeated synonym phases. Finally, we come up with list of 51 value
classes. We found that 39 value statements were not substantial enough or did not fit in
any one category or hence were deleted. For example, ‘We are committed to building a
respectful and diverse workplace where the highest standards of ethical behaviour,
decisions and accountability are demonstrated’ falls under multiple value classes such as
accountability, work ethic, and diversity; ‘Work hard, keep our sense of humour and have
fun!’ does not capture sense of any of value class substantively. Thus, we believe we
have not missed out valuable information. Regarding the classification of the value
statements, we presented the 51 value classes to a focus group of academic experts who
were asked to group these statements independently and then collectively. This process
resulted in seven value dimensions as presented in Table 1.
156 M. Tessema et al.
Further, the sample companies were grouped into the following three sectors: primary
(extraction of raw materials, agriculture, etc.) secondary (manufacturing), and tertiary
(service). About 8% of the sample companies were from primary sector, 68% of the
sample companies were from the secondary sector, 24% of the sample companies were
from tertiary sector.
4 Findings
As shown in Table 1, the 51 corporate value classes are grouped into seven value
dimensions. The frequently cited values across the sample of companies starting from the
top recurring values are integrity, innovation, and customer focus. Put differently, the top
three value classes are integrity (207 or 15%), innovation (98 or 7.1%), and customer
focus (93 or 6.7%) (Table 1).
Table 1 Types of the corporate value statements of the sample companies
No. Value classes Value dimensions # Frequency Percent
1 Continuous improvement Commitment to customers 1 50 3.62
2 Customer focus Commitment to customers 1 93 6.74
3 Excellence Commitment to customers 1 38 2.75
4 Partnership Commitment to customers 1 9 0.65
5 Quality Commitment to customers 1 37 2.68
6 Relationships Commitment to customers 1 2 0.14
7 Service Commitment to customers 1 3 0.22
8 Diversity Commitment to diversity 2 38 2.75
9 Emotional intelligence Commitment to diversity 2 4 0.29
10 Listening Commitment to diversity 2 2 0.14
11 Pride Commitment to diversity 2 2 0.14
12 Respect Commitment to diversity 2 80 5.80
13 Teamwork Commitment to diversity 2 66 4.78
14 Employee development Commitment to employees 3 52 3.77
15 Empowerment Commitment to employees 3 15 1.09
16 Engagement Commitment to employees 3 5 0.36
17 Optimism Commitment to employees 3 4 0.29
18 Recognition Commitment to employees 3 22 1.59
19 Reinvestment Commitment to employees 3 1 0.07
20 Safety Commitment to employees 3 71 5.14
21 Wellness Commitment to employees 3 5 0.36
22 Caring Commitment to stakeholders 4 2 0.14
23 Commitment Commitment to stakeholders 4 10 0.72
24 Commitment to stakeholders Commitment to stakeholders 4 2 0.14
25 Financial discipline Commitment to stakeholders 4 10 0.72
26 Growth Commitment to stakeholders 4 14 1.01
27 Passion Commitment to stakeholders 4 17 1.23
28 Performance Commitment to stakeholders 4 86 6.23
Analysis of corporate value statements 157
Table 1 Types of the corporate value statements of the sample companies (continued)
No. Value classes Value dimensions # Frequency Percent
29 Agility Entrepreneurship 5 17 1.23
30 Courage Entrepreneurship 5 12 0.87
31 Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurship 5 12 0.87
32 Independence Entrepreneurship 5 2 0.14
33 Innovation Entrepreneurship 5 98 7.10
34 Leadership Entrepreneurship 5 17 1.23
35 Perseverance Entrepreneurship 5 6 0.43
36 Urgency Entrepreneurship 5 6 0.43
37 Accountability Commitment to integrity 6 74 5.36
38 Communication Commitment to integrity 6 14 1.01
39 Fairness Commitment to integrity 6 10 0.72
40 Integrity Commitment to integrity 6 207 15.00
41 Professionalism Commitment to integrity 6 5 0.36
42 Punctuality Commitment to integrity 6 1 0.07
43 Transparency Commitment to integrity 6 16 1.16
44 Trust Commitment to integrity 6 10 0.72
45 Work ethic Commitment to integrity 6 4 0.29
46 Unity Social responsibility 7 14 1.01
47 Global perspective Social responsibility 7 5 0.36
48 Long-term perspective Social responsibility 7 1 0.07
49 Security Social responsibility 7 2 0.14
50 Social responsibility Social responsibility 7 52 3.77
51 Sustainability Social responsibility 7 55 3.99
Total 1,380 100.00
Table 2 Number of value statements per company: frequency and percentages
No. of value statements No. of companies* Percentage
1 5 2.55
2 2 1.02
3 24 12.24
4 31 15.82
5 45 22.96
6 41 20.92
7 14 7.14
8 15 7.65
9 8 4.08
10 5 2.55
11 4 2.04
12 1 0.51
17 1 0.51
Notes: NB: *Mean (5.57), median (5), mode (5), and range (1–17).
158 M. Tessema et al.
This study found that all sample companies have publicised corporate values statements
ranging from 1 to 17. About 72% of the sample companies have 3 to 6 values statements
(Table 2). On average, the sample companies have 5.7 values statements. While the
median is 5; the mode is 5 (Table 2).
Table 3 reports the results of the descriptive statistics of the value dimensions. As
revealed in Table 3, commitment to integrity (24.7%) and commitment to customers
(17.25) consist of 42% of the seven value dimensions. Besides, while about 85% of the
sample companies had a commitment to integrity value dimension; about 64% of the
sample companies had a commitment to customers value dimension (Table 3).
Table 3 Descriptive statistics of value dimensions
Value dimensions SD No. of value
statements
% of value
statement
No. of companies
with value
dimensions
% of companies
with value
dimensions
Commitment to
customers
0.89 238 17.25 159 63.86
Commitment to
diversity
0.84 192 13.91 142 57.03
Commitment to
employees
0.82 175 12.68 129 51.81
Commitment to
stakeholders
0.67 141 10.22 113 45.38
Commitment to
integrity
1.12 341 24.71 213 85.54
Entrepreneurship 0.72 164 11.88 130 52.21
Social
responsibility
0.66 129 9.35 104 41.77
Figure 1 shows the percentage of the seven value dimensions in chart form.
Figure 1 Percentage of the seven value dimensions in chart form (see online version for colours)
Analysis of corporate value statements 159
As displayed in Table 4, about two-thirds of the companies are in the manufacturing
sector. While commitment to integrity and commitment to diversity are ranked the
highest in the primary sector, commitment to integrity and commitment to customers are
ranked highest in both secondary and tertiary sectors (Table 4).
Table 4 Frequency distribution of the value dimensions among three sectors
Primary sector Secondary sector Tertiary sector Total
Value dimensions N (value
class) %
N (value
class) %
N (value
class) %
N (value
class) %
Commitment to
customers
8 4.3 135 71.8 45 23.9 188 100
Commitment to
diversity
14 8.9 100 63.7 43 27.4 157 100
Commitment to
employees
10 7.5 97 72.4 27 20.1 134 100
Commitment to
stakeholders
7 6.6 72 67.9 27 25.5 106 100
Entrepreneurship 9 6.8 98 73.7 26 19.5 133 100
Commitment to
integrity
25 9.0 178 64.0 75 27.0 278 100
Social
responsibility
10 10 63 67.7 20 21.5 93 100
Total 83 7.6 743 68.2 263 24.2 1,089 100
Figure 2 shows the percentage of the value dimensions among three sectors in chart form.
Figure 2 Percentage of the value dimensions among three sectors (see online version for colours)
160 M. Tessema et al.
5 Discussion
The main goal of the current study is to identify and classify corporate value statements
into some categories. To that goal, we classify the 1,380 value statements of the sample
companies into seven value dimensions: commitment to customers, commitment to
diversity, commitment to employees, commitment to stakeholders, entrepreneurship,
integrity, and social responsibility. Corporate value statements have been grouped
differently by scholars. However, in this study, they are grouped into the above seven
value dimensions. As with any classification, our classification might be incomplete and
in some cases, has overlapping factors. Nevertheless, it can be useful for diagnosing and
understanding corporate value statements.
An interesting finding of this study is that commitment to integrity and commitment
to customers consist of 42% of the seven value dimensions. Besides, while about 85% of
the sample companies had a commitment to integrity value dimension; about 64% of the
sample companies had a commitment to customers’ value dimension. The above findings
are not surprising given the role of commitment to integrity and commitment to
customers’ value dimensions. Especially, after the Enron scandal, companies have been
giving special attention to integrity or ethical issues. Failing to give due attention to
integrity or ethical issues can lead to lawsuits and damage the image of the company,
which subsequently affect the bottom line of the company. The past two decades, many
companies and their shareholders have suffered from ethical breaches and
non-compliance with regulatory standards and legal norms resulting in huge fines,
protracted lawsuits, damaging organisational image, and criminal convictions of
executives. The finding of this study is therefore in line with prior studies in that
commitment to integrity is the most common publicised corporate value statement. For
example, Kelly et al.’s (2004) study, based on 365 companies in 30 countries, reported
that given the frequency and notoriety of the scandals, it is not a surprise that more than
three-quarters of senior executives say they personally feel significant pressure to
demonstrate strong corporate values.
Commitment to customers is nearly as prominent in values statements as the
commitment to integrity, with each articulated by 64% of the sample companies. It is
generally believed that customers are kings. Particularly, in the existing tough global
market competition, companies must give special to customers if they are to compete and
win or survive.
The sample companies altogether have 1,380 value statements. The number of value
statements of each company ranges from 1 to 17. On average, each sample company has
about six values statements. The findings of this study are in line with the suggestions of
numerous scholars in that an organisation should have four to six values (e.g., Markgraf,
2016). Regan (2012) underscores that when selecting values and creating value
statements, organisations should not fall into the trap of having so many values that they
become meaningless. Although each sample company on average has about six values
statements, the question remains as to whether publicised corporate values are
implementable or not. Some studies have already challenged the validity and reliability of
many corporate value statements (e.g., Anderson and Jamison, 2015; Weiss, 2015).
A closer look at the value statements of the sample companies discloses that many
companies shared the same set of values statements. The individual values statements
were repeated by numerous companies. This study raises the question of duplicate values,
and thus, the finding of the study supports some previous studies (e.g., Roth, 2013;
Analysis of corporate value statements 161
Anderson and Jamison, 2015). For instance, Roth (2013) discovered 52 companies that
had taken large sections of their value statements from value statements on other
companies’ websites. Anderson and Jamison (2015) compare the value statements of
100 largest corporations and discover that there are specific words, such as integrity,
respect, teamwork, and innovation that are repeated in many of the value statements.
Thus, one can argue that many value statements are at best aspirational and at worst
explicit misrepresentations. It is worth mentioning that it is beyond the scope of the
current study to test the fulfilment of the values statements of the sample companies.
The findings of this study also show that, although the sample companies were from
three sectors, about two-thirds of them were in the manufacturing sector. An interesting
finding of this study is that commitment to integrity value dimension rank first in all three
sectors (Table 4). The findings of the current study are in line with other studies in that
certain values tend to predominate in certain sectors, which perhaps reflect the culture of
the sector. For instance, The Great Place to Work Institute (2014) noted that professional
services organisations pride themselves on their integrity, and it is not surprising that
‘integrity’ is the most commonly stated value in the sector. In contrast, media
organisations are in the have ‘fun’ as a value.
6 Conclusions and implications
This study identifies, classifies, and discusses corporate values statements using
companies that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This study grouped the
51 value classes of the sample companies into seven value dimensions: commitment to
customers, commitment to stakeholders, commitment to employees, commitment to
diversity, commitment to integrity, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. The
paper’s innovative method and approach of analysing written values statements opens the
door to a new line of useful research on corporate behaviour. Such classification of
corporate values statements can help in diagnosing and understanding corporate value
statements.
The two most popular value dimensions are commitment to integrity (85% of the
sample companies) and commitment to customers (64%), which consist of about 42% of
the seven value dimensions. On the average, the sample companies had about six
publicised corporate values statements. An important implication of the current study is
that while having too few publicised corporate values statements may not capture all the
desired behaviours and unique dimensions of the company, having too many publicised
corporate values statements may get employees overwhelmed and may lose their overall
impact.
This study indicates that although it has become common for companies to have
written value statements, many of the value statements of the sample companies have
immeasurable standards, which make them unenforceable. This study argues that if
corporate values statements are to have the required impact, companies (leaders) should
clearly define and explain corporate values statements, make sure they have measurable
standards and few key behavioural attributes, discuss them in meetings and writings,
communicate them internally and externally, promote them on the organisational website,
make sure leaders embody them, take accountability to live the values and set an example
(be good role models), support employees by showing them respect and providing the
162 M. Tessema et al.
resources needed to do their job successfully, and reinforce them with consistency. When
organisational members subscribe to a common set of values, companies may appear
united when they deal with various issues.
The findings of this study can also be viewed in the context of the growing body of
research on corporate governance, and thus it has theoretical and practical implications.
While this study is an important step forward in understanding the types and frequency of
corporate value statements, it also leaves some questions open for future research. This
study is descriptive in nature, and thus future studies should attempt to see the effects of
corporate value statements on financial performance. In addition, this study uses
publicised corporate values statements (self-reported values), which may have the
potential for common method bias. It did not also test the validity and reliability of the
corporate values statements of the sample companies. Hence, it would be interesting if
future studies test the validity and reliability of the corporate values statements of
publicly traded companies.
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