Original Research

Evaluating the internalisation of core values at a South African public service organisation

Susanna M. O’Neil, Andre L. Horne
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 10, No 1 | a371 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v10i1.371 | © 2012 Susanna M. O’Neil, Andre L. Horne | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2011 | Published: 27 September 2012

About the author(s)

Susanna M. O’Neil, Department of Human Resources Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Andre L. Horne, Department of Human Resources Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Fully entrenched and internalised organisational values have proved a competitive advantage for many leading organisations. The benefits range from higher profit margins to the improvement of employees’ commitment and ethical performance. Nevertheless, the process of value shaping is often no more than a management goal. It is rarely truly internalised by the whole organisation.

Research purpose: This article presents an effort to describe a value internalisation effort within a South African public service organisation as well as the results of a subsequent evaluation to ascertain to what extent those efforts actually led to internalisation throughout the organisation. A set of actions and practices were implemented within the public service organisation; the intent was that they should enhance value internalisation in the organisation. A long-term strategy of value internalisation was followed that focussed mainly on the clear articulation and communication of the values through different communication mediums and platforms, such as road shows and branded value material hand-outs, as well as through extensive value internalisation training.

Motivation for the study: Documentation of value internalisation processes and its evaluation, especially in South African public service organisations is extremely rare. To ensure that public service organisations do not repeat the same mistakes in their value internalisation practices and implementation processes, proper documentation of these processes in the public and research domains are needed. The need for the evaluation of value internalisation programmes should also be propagated as in many instances, programmes are implemented, but the subsequent success thereof is never evaluated.

Research design, approach and method: A survey questionnaire consisting of a 5-point rating scale was developed to measure the extent of value internalisation after the implementation of long-term internalisation strategies. Employees at different levels and in different units of the organisation participated in the survey.

Main findings: Results (N = 941) reflected lower than expected mean scores for each value component. In addition, differences in internalisation extent were found between two demographic variables, namely population groupings and organisational units.

Practical/managerial implications: The results of this study confirmed certain shortcomings in value internalisation processes, such as the way values are identified, communicated and reinforced. Knowledge of the latter may help human resource (HR) practitioners to apply more effective value shaping practices.

Contribution/value-add: This study provides specific guidelines that may enable practitioners to evaluate their own value internalisation practices. These guidelines include creating institutional value parity through employee engagement and encouraging leaders to facilitate both the emotional and cognitive interface of value internalisation efforts. Furthermore all leaders in the organisation should be exposed to training and development programmes that address the importance of leaders’ own credibility in efforts to institutionalise values within the organisation. The measurement instrument developed for this study may also provide HR practitioners with a means to evaluate the extent of value internalisation in an organisation.


Keywords

Human resources practice; value internalisation; value shaping; value shaping framework for public service organisations; value internalisation questionnaire

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