The goal of this study is to offer a methodology for empirically assessing the core values of an organization. It uses means–end analysis in order to determine those values that organization members manifest in their daily behaviour, and which are not just espoused ‘truisms’. The method is based on the sense members of an organization make of what they do. Sensemaking follows a means–end pattern, through which individual actions converge into central values. The values most central in this means–end structure are the core values that effectively motivate organization members in their job. Our method works in two steps: first, exploratory interviews using the laddering-technique establish the values potentially most central to the organization; then, a follow-up survey assesses the complete pattern of means–end relations among the potential values. Validity tests show that the most central values derived from this survey data are the most important to organization members. These values are also the most stable over time. We make a comparison of this method with traditional value surveys and we discuss its implications for the study of organizational behaviour.

core values, organizational behaviour,
ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal of Management Studies
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van Rekom, J, van Riel, C.B.M, & Wierenga, B. (2006). A Methodology for Assessing Organizational Core Values. Journal of Management Studies, 43(2), 175–201. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6486.2006.00587.x