Table of Contents

Values in the Workplace


In my project I am going to discuss a major and actual topic of all times, namely values in a workplace. The topic will be broken down into three parts. The first one will reflect the types of the organizational values and the difference between personal values and those of a workplace. Also, it will include the reasons that maximize the distance between values leading to different consequences. The second part will examine the possible strategies and methods that may minimize the gap between personal and organizational norms.

In other words, I am going to analyze various approaches that will make work-related values congruent with personal ones, which, result to a more sustainable environment of an organization. Finally, the last, but not less important part will comprise a specific example of a company with visible organizational values and how it managed to either successfully or poorly achieve the congruency among it’s values. Furthermore, I will describe the company’s management practices and the impact of these practices on employees and organization as a whole. In my case study I chose one of the leading and most successful coffee industries,namely Starbucks.

Espoused versus Enacted Organizational Values

Organizational values have become in recent years a matter of concerns, discussions, and a high importance. I believe that a reason of that might be extensive globalization which implies dealing with people of different cultures, beliefs and personal values that may be completely different from the work-related norms. However, before we plunge into the grounds that made values regain their significance, let us define what actually are the organizational and personal concepts.

Organizational or the so-called espoused values are clearly stated norms favored by the company. To be more specific, the espoused values are the concepts shared by all or at least the majority of members in an organization. Also, these norms can act as a proxy for organizational practices (Rousseau, 1990). Usually, organizational values are written down as a mission statement, code of ethics or another type of organizational document (Trice & Beyer,1993).

An example of an espoused value that is present in many companies may be sustainability, which implies meeting “humanity’s needs without harming future generations” (Smircich, 1983). Unlike work-related norms, personal or enacted values are the opinions, beliefs, desires, attitudes and fears that are reflected in the employee’s behavior. When both enacted and espoused values are congruent with each other in a workplace, they are considered to be in alignment. As a result this may lead to a strong affective commitment, foster positive attitude towards the organization and promote motivation and high job satisfaction (Edwards and Cable 2009).

On the other hand researchers claim that any difference between organizational and personal norms might complex the perception and understanding of the espoused values system. This may decrease motivation, suppress performance, and result to high dissatisfaction and stress (Kwantes 2007; Posner 2010). In order to come up with effective strategies that may significantly minimize the gap between organizational and personal values, managers first have to identify the main reasons that lead to the incongruity between the two concepts. One of the most important cause that they definitely should take into account, especially if we talk about global or multinational companies, is culture. Culture is considered to be the driving force for every nation that shapes their beliefs, values and attitude.

One of the main categories that derive from culture are relationship preferences(e.g. power distance) and risk taking behavior (e.g. uncertainty avoidance), which affect employees’ work motivation and commitment (Sullivan 2009). This is what managers of international companies should always focus on, specifically on how to successfully enact their espoused values in organizations with visible cultural diversity.

For instance, a manager, who typically prefers low power distance cannot implement the work-related values in an organization where workers prefer high power distance, because otherwise that may result to employees’ discomfort with the new values system and hinder performance and commitment. The same goes to uncertainty avoidance, whether it is high or low, the manager should adapt the espoused values to the specific cultural preferences and norms in the organization in order to motivate positive attitude, improve productivity and maintain a healthy working environment.


Regarding strategies, there are numerous ways, which if effectively implemented, may minimize the distance between espoused and enacted values. In case with cultural diversity, some variables should be taken into account in order to achieve a successful adjustment of organizational and personal norms. First of all, managers should understand the extent to which a certain multicultural organization is willing to accept the new work-related values system.

Another factor is the dimension of the cultural differences,meaning whether it is high or low. Finally, managers should analyze the ability of the employees to adjust to the new organizational norms and values (Daniels 2007). A strategy that may raise congruency between the two values is effective managerial communication. One of the traditional way of communicating organizational values to workers, which actually has been neglected for many years is the so-called carrot and the stick method. In other words, this principle includes promotions and rewards (i.e. carrot) on the one hand and punishment(i.e. stick) on the other(Antisic, 2005).

Due to technological evolution communicating work-related values to employees became easier for managers. For instance, a popular way managers can effectively enact espoused values is mailing lists, through which they can suggest better ideas and provide a better understanding of the goals employees should achieve and appropriate behavior standards they should consider in order for the goals to be reached (Sikavica, 2008).

To conclude, the whole idea about effectively communicating and enacting organizational values is, first of all, to increase organizational commitment. Secondly, a successful managerial communication of work-related norms and concepts can help improve work efficacy, thus, leading to a constant goal achievement and productive organizational performance.

Furthermore, managers by communicating espoused values to the employees can significantly increase the compatibility of personal values with those of an organization (O’Reilly 1991; Blau and Boal 1987). Finally, the crucial goal of successfully communicating espoused values and make them more congruent with enacted norms is to maintain organization sustainability, healthy working environment and economic prosperity of the company(Hart and Milstein 2003).

Case Study:Starbucks

Starbucks is considered one of the most well-known, successful, and influential coffee industry in the world. Not only it serves coffee of the best quality and taste, a traditional furnishing and a delightful music, but also creates a unique environment for people to enjoy. Apart from that it is a very committed company in terms of products, customers and employees. Starbucks has a very strong organizational culture, unique working environment, traditions etc.

According to the CEO, and president Howard Schultz” we are not in the coffee business serving people; we are in the people business serving coffee.” (Starbucks Coffee Company). No wonder that Starbucks ranks nr.1 for the Most Admired Food Services Companies and nr.6 for Best People Management(Euromonitor, 2007). What is so unique about this company is that It successfully managed to increase employees’ commitment, motivation and satisfaction by implementing different strategies. First of all managers are focused on hiring the right people, meaning that employees should be aware of what the company is doing, should effectively communicate the company’s passion for coffee and provide an excellent customer service.

Second of all, managers at Starbucks foster their employees to feel free to talk to their superiors whenever they want and feel as comfortable around them as possible, oblivious of who they are. Also, they promote team orientation, stability and interdependence among employees, thus maintaining a fun organizational environment (Gamble and Thompson 1997). On top of that, employees at Starbucks are trained to treat customers equally regardless their financial level, cultural diversity and social status. As a result, they create happy customers, that not only enjoy high quality products, but also feel comfortable and pleased in every Starbucks coffee shop around the world, without feeling any difference between espoused and enacted values.


To sum up, organizational values became very crucial in recent years, since they shape a unique working environment, affect the employees’ performance, motivation, attitude towards their company etc. We have analyzed how important is for a manager to stress his attention to cultural diversity and adjust the espoused organizational values according to personal norms of the workers.

Furthermore, we have discussed about the possible strategies that may significantly minimize the distance between the two values and make them more compatible. An example of that was the effective managerial communication and the use of various information technologies. Finally, we have seen how superiors at Starbucks invest their time not only in offering high quality products, and one of the best customer service, but also in training their employees appropriately, making them work as a team, feel free and comfortable, and be strongly committed to the organization. This as a result leads to the stability, prosperity, and sustainability of the company.