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Title: Organisational development : values and the sustainable workplace
Author: Zhang, Xiaoxing
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2009
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Organisations exist. An organisation is not just a group of people, a workplace, a structure or system; it is a combination of these and many other aspects involved in its operation. In recent years, the nature and needs of organisations have changed dramatically, challenging them to rethinking how they organise themselves and accomplish their goals in a sustainable manner. This is an important, but not easy, task. The research presented in this thesis aims to contribute to organisational development theory and practice, in terms of how to articulate collective organisational values, and upon which to establish a sustainable workplace framework to govern and improve organisational performance. The research was undertaken in two phases. Phase 1 focused on researching organisational values, which is considered as a critical step towards the development of sustainable workplaces. A values and behaviours study was conducted in the UK offices of the sponsoring company. Schwartz's values survey instrument and values theory are, for the first time, applied extensively in an organisational context, as opposed to the comparative intercultural research conducted at the national/cultural level. The study used a structured, mixed methods approach which Involved virtually all employees, whose values profiles were collected and analysed through an organisation-wide survey. Follow-up workshops and post workshop activities with a company Values Group faCilitated the sharing of common values; they then helped staff representatives develop their own organisational values statements, independent of senior management, before a final stage of negotiation. Meanwhile, a set of core-values-related workplace behaviours and relevant mechanisms were identified and communicated across the whole organisation. The core organisational values are fundamental in governing the workplace behaviours, and the mechanisms represented desirable work practices. This values-based approach facilitated the identification of the grassroots demand for continuous improvement of workplace environmental, social and economic performances, hence formed a foundation for the development of sustainable workplaces. The findings from the first phase revealed the core values of the organisation, highlighted the importance of applying the principles of sustainable development to the workplace context, which prompted further research into the nature of a sustainable workplace (phase 2). Although there is an increasing interest in sustainable workplace development, as an emerging and fast developing area, the body of research is still fragmented and unbalanced. In order to establish a holistic and balanced approach to the development of sustainable workplaces, available guidance documents were systematically categorised, compared and synthesised within a clear framework, to facilitate easy understanding and practice. This revealed that, at present, emphasis tends to be placed on environmental impacts arising from workplace activities, and hence the promotion of environmental awareness among the workforce. Whilst this may be appropriate in itself, it is of concern that other key aspects of sustainable development (Le. social and economic aspects) have been overlooked to a significant extent. A sustainable workplace framework was therefore established which provides a balanced approach for governing all aspects of the workplace development. The data obtained from phase 1 not only highlighted the need for such a balanced approach, but also inform the identification and prioritisation of the indicators within the framework, which offer useful measures for organisational behaviours. Meanwhile, the framework can be used as a tool to facilitate the integration of values into workplace development. The research concludes that to develop an organisation in a sustainable manner, a set of collective organisational values must be articulated, which will serve as guiding principles of work place behaviours and practices, and therefore dictate workplace performance. The shaping of collective organisational values should be based on a clear understanding and communication of employees' personal values, and that Schwartz's circumplex model of human values and associated survey instrument are helpful neutral framing devices to initiate and structure such a debate. As all the elements of sustainability are rooted in values, the identification of the collective organisational values could be considered as a critical step towards the development of sustainable workplaces. Furthermore, the research highlighted that the sustainable workplace is a multidimensional concept which requires holistic thinking. The conceptual framework developed in this research joins together the key aspects/criteria of sustainable workplaces, with the aim to balance the workplace environmental, social and economic performances. By linking the organisational values and related key business issues to workplace sustainable development criteria, the development towards sustainable workplaces could consequently enhance organisational values, therefore improving organisational perfonnance as well as employees' quality of life at work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Eng.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Behaviours ; Management ; Organisation ; Sustainable development ; Values ; Workplace