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On organizational behavior and values-based management

This is an exploration in the areas of organizational behavior, marketing, sociology, decision science, group identity, values and attitudes, especially where it may pertain to business, process management, and public policy.

Research Question Proposals

  • How do values influence social structures? How do values connect people and form/join organizations?
  • How do you use values to target and market to potential clients? (i.e. can we show correlation between values and needs, and through understanding of – perhaps a more fundamental property – values identify new clients. See figure 1 below.)
  • How do we effectively model targeted marketing through social values and attitudes?
  • Do certain affiliations translate into increased opportunity for generation Y university students? In other words, what organizational trends exist within college communities, especially focusing on Greek associations?

Proposed measurements:

  • How do people identify within their community?
  • How many activities do they participate in? How many hold leadership roles?
  • What are the job placement rates. What are the salaries over time?
  • What are the starting salaries?
  • What alumni participation do we observe? (subquestion)

Other research questions…

  • What is the role of values in determining the success of an organization?
  • Do successful organizations share common values?
    • Major questions still lie in how we measure values, success, and the interactions between to two.
  • Can we better identify affinity groups through improved understanding of values?
  • Is group identity founded in a collective/agreed upon set of values?
  • When and how do people expose their values?
  • Is there a finite number of values?

Often tools used to measure values or opinions, such as a survey, provides possible acceptable responses based on the categorization determined by the survey’s author. Do we limit our understanding to a significant amount, ignoring key elements of reality with this method of observation?

Idea Generation

Fig. 1: A Hierarchy of Value Assessment

In business, we speak of internal and external needs. If we follow this down, we understand the needs of the client precipitate problems. In order to solve these problems we set goals, which we prescribe strategies to guide us in meeting these goals. Finally tactics are identified as steps within the strategic plan to do essentially work to satisfy the established needs.

This hierarchy begs the question: where do our needs come from? How do we arrive at these needs? Through cursory observation it appears our needs are formed as a function of our system of values, where values are defined as the judgement one has in deciding what is important in life. For example, if we value our family it might seem reasonable to need to be near them. This might create a problem since we live in Wisconsin and they live in North Carolina. Together set decide it is our goal to move within a drivable distance apart, and we set strategies and/or tactics to make this reality.

Finally, if we reiterate this question once more replacing “needs” with “values”, we see our values are a function of the environment in which we exist.

This brings to question a few more things:

  • Is there a finite set of values? If so, what are they?
  • If these things are results of each other, can we reduce the number of problems which exist by altering or minimizing the number of values within a system or organization?
  • Is there either correlation or causality between values and specific problem? (i.e. is there in fact a hierarchy which is described by this model?)
  • Where do people exhibit their values? When is the best time to observe one’s values?
  • Is there a one-to-many relationship as we traverse down the hierarchy?
  • What properties of our environment are most significant? Are there particular properties we want to control for most?

We — engineers particularly — focus almost exclusively on the solving of problems. Under this model we begin to realize problem solving is important, but only a piece of the larger picture. In fact, we may be able to understand the more fundamental aspects to what is affecting our problem and thereby appreciate why the problem exists.