Mapping Espoused Organizational Values

Humphrey Bourne*, Mark Jenkins, Emma Parry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

3 Citations (Scopus)
509 Downloads (Pure)


This paper develops an inventory and conceptual map of espoused organizational values. We suggest that espoused values are fundamentally different to other value forms as they are collective value statements that need to coexist as a basis for organizational activity and performance. The inventory is built from an analysis of 3112 value items espoused by 554 organizations in the UK and USA in both profit and not-for-profit sectors. We distil these value items into 85 espoused value labels, and these are assessed in terms of their similarity and difference through judgements made by 53 experienced individuals. The resulting conceptual map facilitates the evaluation of values which are espoused at the organizational level, as opposed to aggregations of personal values, an important distinction that is often ignored in the literature. This analysis identifies a number of distinct areas of emphasis occupied by espoused values. In particular, the richness of value labels that relates to broader ethical issues may be aimed at external stakeholder management, but also may have an increasing influence on organizational behaviour as they are embedded into organizational practices. By advancing our understanding of espoused values, through an analysis of those being used in practice, we provide a means by which future research into organizational values and ethical issues can progress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Early online date17 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2019


  • Corporate values
  • Espoused values
  • Inventory
  • Multidimensional scaling organizational behaviour
  • Organizational values

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