Relationship of personal & organizational values with organizational commitment.

AuthorKumar, Natarajan


The scientific study of human values has a long history. Allport, Vernon and Lindzey (1970) were among the first social scientists who gave the value concept a more concrete meaning. These authors linked values to ordinary activities such as reading newspapers, watching movies or voting and designed a typology of values. Rokeach's (1973, 1979) work, however, brought about a shift in the thinking from the idea of a typology of values as a fixed and a stable element to values as guiding principles in life which transcend specific situations, may change over time, guide selection of behavior and are part of a dynamic system. Values are drivers of behavior (Rokeach, 1973), including workplace behavior (Schwartz, 1994). Dose (1997:236) observes that "so much of our time is spent in a working environment that work values are particularly significant and salient". Once embraced, values become standards of importance (Gellermann, Frankel & Ladenson, 1990). They also serve as criteria for making decisions and setting priorities and lie behind the explanations and justifications that are given for ones actions. Unlike constructs such as attitudes and opinions, values are relatively permanent, although capable of being changed under certain conditions. Jones & Gerard (1967) explain value stability by noting that people experience some discomfort or deprivation in acquiring values and thus, values acquire stability because individuals develop attachments to the things they have undergone discomfort to acquire.

Several researchers have examined the link between values and behavior. Values are believed to have a substantial influence on the affective and behavioral responses of individuals (Locke, 1976; Rokeach, 1973), and changing values are frequently evoked as explanations for employee problems in the workplace (Nord et al, 1988), and increase in unethical business practices (Mitchell & Scott, 1990). At the organizational level, values are viewed as a major component of organizational culture (O'Reilly & Chatman,1996; Schein, 1985), and are often described as principles responsible for the successful management of a number of companies (e.g., Mitchell & O'Neal, 1994). Rokeach (1979:51) characterized values as "the most distinctive property or defining characteristic of a social institution". Organizations do not really possess values apart from the values of their members. Thus, it may be said that organizational values are shared among the individual members of the organization. Shared values are a major component of an organization's culture (O'Reilly & Chatman, 1996). However, the values of organizations and their members are not always in alignment.

Several researchers investigated the concept of congruence between personality and situational variables and its affect on behavior. Fiedler's (1967, 1978) leadership theory, Holland's (1985) theory of vocational choice, Hackman & Oldham's (1980) job characteristics model are but a few examples of the theoretical work that has been based on the idea that characteristics of the person and job interact to determine such things as job choice, satisfaction and employee well-being (Edwards, 1994). One fundamental characteristic that both employees and organizations share is values. It is easy to generate examples to show that individuals would be more comfortable in an environment that is consistent with their values. A person who values honesty and integrity working in an organization that believes in 'getting the job done at all costs' will not be very comfortable. In all likelihood, the result of placing people in situations at odds with their personal values will not be positive for either the employee or the organization. Not only could employees' well-being be at risk but it is also possible that they would be less devoted to the organization and possibly less productive. Furthermore, Natarajan and Nagar (2011) established that value congruence indeed influences job choice decision.

Researchers have used many different methods of measuring value congruence. One of the least complicated methods employed is to simply ask respondents to estimate the extent their values are similar to those of the other (e.g., Posner, Kouzes & Schmidt, 1985). However, this method is based on several assumptions that the respondent (a) knows what values are, (b) knows what the relevant values are, (c) knows his or her own values, (d) knows the values of the other, and (e) is able to compare these sets of values to produce an overall assessment of their similarity. Accordingly, some researchers, gave the meaning of values and / or the value dimensions upon which to judge differences (Enz, 1988), but this method still assumes that values can be accurately measured without the aid of a values instrument, and that respondents can accurately assess the extent their values are similar to those of the others. These concerns have been addressed in two additional methodologies: (a) having respondents...

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