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The Top-10 Organizational Values around the World

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

(An Intercultural Examination)

Part 1 of 2

Values and well-crafted definitions look good on paper but in too many cases don’t result in culture change.

In the first two articles in this series, we explored how defining culturally agile behaviors creates a resonant organizational culture where a wide diversity of people feel they belong. So, we created this 'Top 10 most used organizational values list'. To do that we consolidated the research and writings of multiple sources (Thank you to Deloitte and Booz Allen & Hamilton as well as publications in HBR and Forbes).

Our goal in this article is to give you new insights into how these top 10 value words are explained and lived out very differently around the world. With over 25+ years of experience working in over 70 countries, we want to pass on practical ideas and stories on how to make corporate values come alive in a diverse and intercultural organization.

When did defining Corporate Values start?

Although it is not clear who started the corporate values movement, the book “Built to Last” had a significant role to play. The authors (Jim Collins and Jerry Porras) talk about a key principle they found with organizations that last: "Clock building, not time telling". Building your 'organizational clock' requires you to have well-defined and daily lived-out core values.

Fast forward to today and more than 80 percent of all large companies publish a list of values as well as a definition of what they mean. Core values seem to have become a 'must-have' to build a healthy organization. But in most organizations the 'must have' doesn't translate into lived-out values in the day-to-day working lives of employees.

So, let's dive into the top 10 corporate values and why it is so challenging to define meaningful and culturally agile behaviors around these top 10 most used corporate values. (Fully unpacking all the intercultural complexities related to these would take several books).


The word integrity in English comes from the Latin word 'integer'; being whole, complete, or 'an undivided or unbroken completeness'.

When you look at similar words in other languages the word can have a wide variety of meanings. In non-Latin languages the meaning has a lot to do with 'standing upright', 'your head lifted high'.

One of the challenges with integrity is that it can compete with other priorities. Some cultures emphasize harmony at the expense of confronting questionable behavior. For other cultures, it is the need to show loyalty and not 'breaking rank' that is more important.

Sometimes the definition of integrity in one cultural context can cause your business to lose money in another cultural context (e.g., calling 'taking a client out for a drink or a meal' a bribe or a conflict of interest is directly opposed to local customs on building healthy customer relationships). Another example would be to not allow employees to introduce a family member as a candidate for a vacant position. This is seen as unreconcilable with local traditions.

Telling company drivers that they can't offer lifts to family members can be so counterculture that I have heard drivers say they left the company because they couldn't face the shame of having to say 'no' to family members when they asked for a ride.

The biggest issue is not that integrity is not important but defining integrity in such a way that it is culturally agile and can be implemented effectively in all jurisdictions & cultures without major challenges. If your definition of integrity doesn’t work for certain cultures or in a certain context you run the risk that they will create their localized meaning around the word integrity.

Concern for customers

'Concern for customers' can be as simple as 'we are customer centric' or as radical as ‘customer obsession'.

On paper, most companies will identify external customers (customers that are the recipients of their products and services) but also internal customers (the way different divisions in the organization serve each other) as equally important.

At the same time, culture has a huge influence on what external client relationships might look like.

How are sales staff seen by your clients? Is it a respected and honored job or is it a servant-level position? This h