Friday, June 25, 2010


IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell University
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor----------------------
Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau


Asian Development Bank (ADB_

Knowledge Solutions


A Primer on Corporate Values [June 2010]

By Olivier Serrat

[full-text, 7 pages]



Some Facts on Corporate Guidance Systems

Advertising strong, positive corporate values is à la mode. Why? In a globalizing world,

meaningful values can, for example, instill a sense of identity and purpose in organizations;

add spirit to the workplace; align and unify people; promote employee ownership; attract

newcomers; create consistency; simplify decision making; energize endeavors; raise

efficiency; hearten client trust, loyalty, and forgiveness for mistakes; build resilience to

shocks; and contribute to society at large.


However, corporate values can backfire with glare

when management or personnel fail to live up to the messages, a sure recipe for disenchantment or cynicism

among clients, audiences, and partners, not to forget personnel itself. In most such cases, the cause of

tension is that organizational goals, principally couched in financial terms, often do not reflect (when they do

not conflict with) the corporate values propounded and the underlying organizational culture from which

such values are supposed to spring. Lest they become debased, corporate values should not be platitudes,

orders of preference expressed in operational jargon, or even simple aspirations. They should not be politically

correct. To serve as real guidance systems, living values that spring from integrity, morality, and ethics must

be internalized by personnel and reviewed at intervals to maintain relevance in changing contexts; that rarely



In The Neuroscience of Leadership, David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz share a few home truths on

organizational transformation. They bear relevance to the subject of these Knowledge Solutions since change

is what the introduction of corporate values usually purports, at least from the outset. According then to David

Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz:

Change is pain. Organizational change is unexpectedly difficult because it provokes sensations of

physiological discomfort.

Behaviorism does not work. Change efforts based on incentive and threat (the carrot and the stick) rarely

succeed in the long run.

Humanism is overrated. In practice, the conventional empathic approach of connection and persuasion

does not sufficiently engage people.

Focus is power. The act of paying attention creates chemical and physical changes in the brain.

Expectation shapes reality. The preconceptions of people significant impact what they perceive.

Attention density shapes identity. Repeated, purposeful, and focused attention can lead to long-lasting

personal evolution.




This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

Stuart Basefsky                   
Director, IWS News Bureau                
Institute for Workplace Studies 
Cornell/ILR School                        
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor             
New York, NY 10016                        
Telephone: (607) 255-2703                
Fax: (607) 255-9641                       



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