Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

Outcomes of Values and Participation in 'Values-Expressive' Nonprofit Agencies

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

Outcomes of Values and Participation in 'Values-Expressive' Nonprofit Agencies

Article excerpt


This paper demonstrates the effect of values and management practices on important employee outcomes including satisfaction, commitment, trust, and self-esteem based on a study of 18 not-for-profit social service agencies. The study focused on the relationship between values and management practices and how this relationship affected the perceived satisfaction and social climate in not-for-profit organizations. Results from the analysis of the survey support an important linkage between values and management practice. This study found support for both direct and contingent effects of values on important organizational outcomes.


"Thus, to redesign jobs, reward systems, and human resources management policies that will result in optimum job satisfaction and productivity, managers need to know what employees value" (Karl & Sutton, 1998, p. 515).

This statement represents the essential thrust of this paper. In addition to Karl and Sutton (1998) others including Jeavons (1992), Frumkin (2002), and Mason (1996) have supported this assertion in discussions of the not-for-profit sector. Jeavons (1992) contends that nonprofit organizations are values-expressive and thus the study of values in the nonprofit sector is an especially important investigation. Frumkin (2002) elaborates on this idea and states that "(b)y committing to broad causes that are close to the heart or by giving to an effort that speaks directly to the needs of the community, nonprofit and voluntary action answers a powerful expressive urge" (p. 23). Mason (1996) goes on to suggest why the proper support of personnel may be particularly important in the expressive nonprofit sector:

"People work with nonprofits to fulfill their expressive hunger for relatedness, rootedness, affection, approval, admittance, security, esteem, affiliation, and other expressive activities....(A) group enables and lifts up its members to accomplish more than they would alone, it buoys them up and supports them expressively. Individuals' efforts and emotions are not constant....A group can mediate with and support its members during low periods, making these periods shorter and shallower than they would otherwise be" (Mason,1996, p. 224)

However, the impact of personal values and employee support on employee outcomes is largely untested. Karl and Sutton (1998) showed that public sector employees do have different values from private sector employees, but did not evaluate the core question of whether values do, in fact, influence work-related attitudes and behaviors. The present research is a cross-sectional study of small social service agencies. Specifically, this research examines the relationship between values, participative practices and important employee outcomes including job satisfaction, peer trust, and self-esteem. Participative practices are a focus since many studies have reported on the linkage between involvement and work-related attitudes and behaviors (e.g. Kim, 2002, Tesluk, Vance & Mathieu, 1999). This is an important issue since an understanding of the nature of the linkage between values, participative practices and important work outcomes can provide important guidance in the selection of appropriate management practices.

Assessing Values and Management Practices

Although values are discussed with increasing frequency, values are often conceptualized loosely and the discussion of values tends to be prescriptive. Thus it is important to begin by carefully identifying and defining specific values relevant to management practice. A value (or normative belief) can be defined as "an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence" (Rokeach, 1973: 5). Values can be understood as an individual's world view, one based on underlying principles of social justice and the importance of the individual in society. …

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