Values represent basic convictions that â€œa specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence. They contain a judgmental element in that they carry an individualâ€™s ideas as to what is right, good, or desirable. Values have both content and intensity attributes. The content attribute says that a mode of conduct or end-state of existence is important. The intensity attribute specifies how important it is. When we rank an individualâ€™s values in terms of their intensity, we obtain that personâ€™s value system. All of us have a hierarchy of values that forms our value system. This system is identified by the relative importance we assign to values such as freedom, pleasure, self-respect, honesty, obedience, and equality.
Is capital punishment right or wrong? If a person, is that good or bad? The answers to these questions are value-laden. Some might argue, for example, that capital punishment is right because it is an appropriate retribution for crimes like murder and treason. However, others might argue, just as strongly, that no government has the right to take anyoneâ€™s life.
Generally speaking values are not flexible. Values tend to be relatively stable and enduring. A significant portion of the values we hold is established in our early years from parents, teachers, friends, and others. As children, we are told that certain behaviors or outcomes are always desirable or always undesirable. There were few gray areas. You were told, for example, that you should be honest and responsible. You were never taught to be just a little bit honest or a little bit responsible. It is this absolute or â€œblack-or-whiteâ€ learning of values that more or less ensures their stability and endurance. The process of questioning our values, of course, may result in a change. More often, our questioning merely acts to reinforce the values we hold.
Importance of Values:
Values are important to the study of organizational behavior because they lay the foundation for the understanding of attitudes and motivation and because they influence our perception. Individuals enter an organization with pre-conceived notions of what â€œoughtâ€ and what â€œought notâ€ to be. Of course, these notions are not value-free. On the contrary, they contain interpretations of
right and wrong. Furthermore, they imply that certain behaviors or outcomes are preferred over others. As a result, values cloud objectivity and rationality.
Values generally influence attitudes and behavior. Suppose that you enter an organization with the view that allocating pay on the basis of seniority is wrong. How are you going to react if you find that the organization you have just joined rewards seniority and not performance? Youâ€™re likely to be disappointed — and this can lead to job dissatisfaction and the decision not to exert a high level of effort since â€œitâ€™s probably not going to lead to more money, anyway. Most likely attitudes and behavior will be different if your values are aligned with the organizationâ€™s pay policies.