Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, Ph.D. Chairperson; Fred J. Galloway, Ed.D.; John Gates, Ph.D.


values, values integration, values based leadership


At the start of the 21st century, corporate America found itself confronted by a series of scandals about powerful business leaders unethically exploiting the system and their own organizations. Among the most familiar of these scandals is the one involving the former energy and commodities services corporation, Enron. Illegal accounting practices in that organization resulted both in the dissolution of that organization and in passage of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which placed greater demands on corporate accounting practices.

Enron’s maleficence deeply affected its more than 20,000 employees through job loss and the evaporation of retirement benefits. Enron leaders’ widely touted corporate values of Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence also injected a note of irony and even cynicism into the entire unfortunate situation. As it turned out, the gap between the values espoused and the values practiced by those at the top of Enron’s leadership team was exceedingly wide. The tragic example of Enron suggests the need to focus on whether a company’s espoused values are, in fact, being integrated on a day-to-day basis in the activities, policies, and standard operating procedures of organizational life.

Values-Based Leadership (VBL) has been studied through a variety of lenses. Most frequently, the focus has been on values congruence between organizational leaders and followers. However, there is a lack of empirical research exploring values integration, i.e., the relationship between an organization’s rhetoric about values and the policies and standard operating procedures that influence its day-to-day operations and organizational employees. Consequently, this qualitative case study examined integration within one organization that claims to be values driven. Research methods included interviews, document analysis, and a limited amount of participant observation.

Findings from this study provided four insights: (1) Values integration requires ceaseless effort; (2) organizational values can exist in tension with one another: (3) proximity to an organization’s headquarters impacts integration; and (4) cross-cultural values integration may be problematic. This research will ultimately provide an assessment tool organizational leaders in the future can use to examine whether a gap exists between their organization’s rhetoric about values and the values that are operational in day-to-day organizational life.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies