A semantic network analysis of global corporate values statements
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The Internet has transformed organizations' communicative behavior, the social system, and perhaps the values embedded within both. Organizations have been impacted by these changes within society, especially related to globalization and increased behavioral expectations. To cope with these external influences, organizations grapple with the question of "who are we?" This dissertation proposes an alternative answer to this question. As organizational identity and image are too tightly bound to be studied separately, this study suggested that the constructs are an emergent process based within the adoption and communication of values. Further, corporate values statements, available on organizations' websites, are strongly influenced by internal and external messages within the social system. Results from a semantic network analysis of the 2005 list of Forbes Global 2000 presented an accurate picture of the values of the current global economic system. North American, European, and Asian corporations were examined. Within the North American data, successful organizational functioning predominated with an external focus on all stakeholders. References to moral expectations of society tempered performance-related goals and reinforced the image of traditional American work ethic. The European data also emphasized organizational functioning and stakeholders. Superior performance, future-orientation, and accountability to society, emerged as important components. The data also linked culture, of which values are embedded, to organizational survival. In the Asian data, a long-term orientation and collectivistic dimension prevailed. Harmony and balance underlie all references to organizational operations. Though variations within all data sets appear, they focus on organizational functioning. Attention to the customer, as a value, was addressed within the context of performance, integrity, and balance. With the exception of the Asian data set, with its emphasis on balance, all stressed future, success-oriented approaches. A recognition of internal and external stakeholders predominated, along with an eye to global, social, and environmental concerns.