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Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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3 Organisational values and vision

This section builds on your work on understanding personal values and how they work with those of organisations. Two main areas are discussed:

  • What are organisational values?
  • Why might conflict arise?
A collection of post-it notes representing shared organisational values.
Figure 4 Organisational culture

Much has been written about how values contribute to organisational culture in organisations across all three sectors (public, private and voluntary). Projecting an image of a strong organisational culture and a sense of shared values has been regarded as a useful marketing tool for organisations (Watson, 1996 cited in Hester et al., 2013, p. 306). In the context of the voluntary sector, voluntary organisations are often perceived to be particularly value-driven.

Organisational values may be similar to the types of personal values you have explored so far this week such as helping others, showing compassion, making a difference and so on. They are usually expressed in a more collaborative way, i.e. ‘we believe’ or ‘our objective is to …’ and so on. Just as personal values are the set of beliefs and principles guiding people’s behaviour, this also applies to organisations and how they work in practice.

Values (in theory) guide organisations’ activities, services offered, recruitment and management policies. Sometimes an organisation’s values might be expressed as more ‘aspirational’ – this is what we want to achieve but we might not be there yet. Forrest et al. (2012, p. 1) at Cass Business School in London conducted a large-scale survey and detailed case studies on values in voluntary organisations. They found from their case studies that the words most frequently used to express values were:

  • collaborate
  • respect
  • compassionate
  • excellence
  • professional
  • creative.

The next activity illustrates how personal values might link with those of organisations.

Activity 4 Do you love your job?

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Watch these two films showing people who work in the Scottish voluntary sector talking about what they love about their jobs. Make notes on what they say about their personal values and those of the organisations they work for.

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Comment

Both Gillian and Elliott seem to express their answers in terms of values – personal values (justice, make a better place) – which suggests these are important and at the forefront of their minds in terms of their work. In terms of their organisations, they refer to the staff being dedicated, enthusiastic and working to the same mission and values.

If you were asked ‘why do you love your job (or volunteering)?’ what would you say, and would you answer in terms of values?