The Management of Meaning – Conditions for Perception of Values in a Hierarchical Organization

  • Rudi Kirkhaug


This article argues that the introduction of value based management in a decentralized, hierarchical, and rule-based organization will add to existing informal and formal systems instead of replacing them. Consequently, employees’ perception of and willingness to embrace and operationalize centrally imposed values were assumed to be dependent upon existing emotional, social, and formal processes and structures. Hierarchical regression analysis on data from a maritime company (N = 408) gathered in Norway in 2004 – which claims to be a learning and value based company – showed that affective commitment and group coherence correlated positively with perception of values among employees. Formalization was positively but insignificantly correlated, whereas loyalty toward immediate superiors was significantly negatively correlated with perception of values.


value based management affective commitment formalization loyalty 


  1. Adler, P. S., & Borys, B. (1996). Two Types of Bureaucracy: Enabling and Coercive. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(1), 62–89Google Scholar
  2. Allen, N. J., & Meyer, J. P. (1990). The Measurement and Antecedents of Affective, Continuance and Normative Commitment to the Organization. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 1–18Google Scholar
  3. Amis, J., Slack, T., & Hinings, C. R. (2002). Values and Organizational Change. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 38(4), 436–465. doi: 10.1177/002188602237791 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barker, J. R. (1993). Tightening the Iron Cage: Concertive Control in Self-managing Teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38(2), 408–437. doi: 10.2307/2393374 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baron, R. A. and J. Greenberg: 1990, Behavior in Organizations, 3rd Edition (Allyn and Bacon, Boston)Google Scholar
  6. Bass, B.M. 1990, Bass & Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership, Theory Research and Managerial Applications, 3rd edition. The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Brytting, T., & Trollestad, C. (2000). Managerial Thinking on Value-based Management. International Journal of Value-Based Management, 13, 55–77. doi: 10.1023/A:1007775731891 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cameron, K.S., & Quinn, R.E. 1988, ‹Organizational Paradox and Transformation’, In: R. E. Quinn, K. S. Cameron (eds), Paradox and Transformation: Toward a Theory of Change in Organization and Management. Ballinger, Cambridge. MAGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen, Z. X., A. S. Tsui and J.-L. Farh: 2002, ‹Loyalty to Supervisor vs. Organizational Commitment: Relationships to Employee Performance in China’, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 75, 339–356. doi: 10.1348/096317902320369749 Google Scholar
  10. Daft, R. L., & Lengel, R. H. (1986). Organizational Information Requirements, Media Richness and Structural Design. Management Science, 32(5), 554–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deal, T. E., & Kennedy, A. A. 1982, Corporate Cultures. The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MAGoogle Scholar
  12. Dybdal Jensen, F.: 1998, Værdibaseret ledelse – styring mellom regler og visjoner (Jurist- og Økonomiforbundets Forlag, KØbenhavn)Google Scholar
  13. Enz, C.A. (1988). The Role of Value Congruity in Intraorganizational Power. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33(2), 284–304. doi: 10.2307/2393060 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Finlay, W., Martin, J.K., Roman, P.M., & Blum, T.C. (1995). Organization Structure and Job Satisfaction. Administration & Society, 27(3), 427–450. doi: 10.1177/009539979502700306 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hales, C.P. (1986). What do Managers Do? A Critical Review of the Evidence. Journal of Management Studies, 23, 89–115. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.1986.tb00936.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hall, D.T., Schneider, B., & Nygren, H.T. (1970). Personal Factors in Organizational Identification. Administrative Science Quarterly, 15(2), 176–189. doi: 10.2307/2391488 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Harrison, B. 1994, Mean and Lean: The Changing Landscape of Corporate Power in the Age of Flexibility. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Hinings, C.R., Thibault, L., Slack, T., & Kikulis, L.M. (1996). Values and Organizational Structure. Human Relations, 49(7), 885–916. doi: 10.1177/001872679604900702 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hirschhorn, L. 2000, ‹Changing Structure is Not Enough. The Moral Meaning of Organizational Design’, In: M. Beer, N. Nohria (eds), Breaking the Code of Change. Harvard Business School Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
  20. James, L.R., & Jones, A.P. (1976). Organizational Structure: A Review of Structural Dimensions and their Conceptual Relationships with Individual Attitudes and Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 16, 74–113. doi: 10.1016/0030-5073(76)90008-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Juran, J. 1992, Juran on Quality by Design. The New Steps for Planning Quality into Goods and Services. The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Karloef, B. 2005, A to Z of Management Concepts and Models. Thorogood, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Kernaghan, K. (2003). Integrating Values into Public Service: The Values Statement as Centerpiece. Public Administration Review, 63(6), 711–719. doi: 10.1111/1540-6210.00334 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kirmeyer, S. L., & Lin, T. -R. (1987). ‹Social Support: Its Relationship to Observed Communication with Peers and Superiors. Academy of Management Journal, 30(1), 138–151. doi: 10.2307/255900 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kurland, N. B., & Egan, T. D. (1999). Public v. Private Perceptions of Formalization, Outcomes, and Justice. Journal of Public Administration: Research and Theory, 9(3), 437–458Google Scholar
  26. Meyer, J. P., Allen, J., & Smith, C. A. (1993). Commitment to Organizations and Occupations: Extension of a Three-component Conceptualization. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(4), 538–551. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.78.4.538 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mintzberg, H. 1973, The Nature of Managerial Work. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. Mowday, R. T., Steers, R. M., & Porter, L. W. (1979). The Measurement of Organizational Commitment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 14, 224–247. doi: 10.1016/0001-8791(79)90072-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. O’Reilly, C. A., & Roberts, K. H. (1974). Information Filtration in Organizations: Three Experiments. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 11, 253–265. doi: 10.1016/0030-5073(74)90018-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Organ, D. W., & Green, C. N. (1981). The Effects of Formalization on Professional Involvement: A Compensatory Process Approach. Administrative Science Quarterly, 26, 237–253. doi: 10.2307/2392471 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peters, T., & Waterman, R. H. 1982, In Search of Excellence. Lessons from America’s Best-run Companies. HarperCollinsBusiness, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Pettigrew, A. M. (1979). On Studying Organizational Cultures. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 570–581. doi: 10.2307/2392363 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pruzan, P. (2001). The Question of Organizational Consciousness: Can Organizations Have Values, Virtues and Visions? Journal of Business Ethics, 29(3), 271–284. doi: 10.1023/A:1026577604845 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rokeach, M. 1968, Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  35. Schein, E.H. 2004, Organizational Culture and Leadership, 3rd edition. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  36. Schein, E.H. 2005, ‹Defining Organizational Culture’. In: J. M. Shafritz, J. F. Otts and Y. S. Jang (eds), Classics of Organization Theory. Thompson, Belmont CAGoogle Scholar
  37. Schnake, M. (1991). Organizational Citizenship: A Review, Proposed Model, and Research Agenda. Human Relations, 44(7), 735–759. doi: 10.1177/001872679104400706 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Scott, W.R. 1998, Organizations, Rational, Natural and Open Systems, 4th edition. Prentice Hall New, JerseyGoogle Scholar
  39. Selznick, P. 1957, Leadership in Organizations: A Sociological Interpretation. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  40. Smircich, L., & Morgan, G. (1982). Leadership: The Management of Meaning. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 18(3), 257–273. doi: 10.1177/002188638201800303 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Weick, K. E.: 1987, ‹Organizational Culture as a Source of High Reliability’, California Management Review XXIX(2), 112–127Google Scholar
  42. Weick, K. E. 2000, ‹Emergent Change as a Universal in Organizations’. In: M. Beer & N. Nohria (eds), Breaking the Code of Change. Harvard Business School Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
  43. Wilmott, H. (1987). Studying Managerial Work: A Critique and a Proposal. Journal of Management Studies, 24, 249–270. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.1987.tb00702.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yukl, G. 1998, Leadership in Organizations, 4th edition. Prentice-Hall, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social ScienceUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

Personalised recommendations