An Unexpected Means of Embedding Ethics in Organizations: Preliminary Findings from Values-Based Evaluations

Gemma Burford, Elona Hoover, Lee Stapleton, Marie Harder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ethical principles constitute a crucial area of debate and discussion in the global conversation around transitions to sustainability, and of particular relevance to the contribution of businesses and other organizations. Scholars in business ethics have recently identified several challenges in this area, such as problems of measurement, rigor, and meaningfulness to practitioners; corporate social responsibility; and institutionalization of ethics in businesses. In this paper, the impacts of a pragmatic values-based evaluation approach originally developed in another field-education for sustainable development-are shown to strongly contribute to many of these challenges. Impacts found across eight organizations include (i) deep values conceptualization; (ii) increased esteem (iii) building capacity for assessment of values-based achievements; (iv) values mainstreaming; and (v) effective external values communications. It seems that the in-situ development and use of values-based indicators helped to conceptualize locally shared values that underpin decisions, thus embedding the application of (local) ethics. Although this study is exploratory, it is clear that the values-based approach shows promise for meeting key challenges in business ethics and wider sustainability, and for new directions for future cross-disciplinary research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number612
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (


  • values-based indicators
  • business ethics
  • organizational values
  • values conceptualization
  • corporate social responsibility
  • application of ethics
  • WeValue
  • evaluation impact


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