The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Promotion of Values in a Multinational Enterprise

Miia Martinsuo

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management for public examination and debate in Auditorium K216 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 18th of September, 1999, at 12 o'clock noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 978-951-22-8793-2)   [2380 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-4606-6)


This study focuses on the promotion of values as a way for organizational managers to influence operations in a multinational enterprise (MNE). Despite the continued centrality of the organizational culture concept in management literature, and the need for dynamics in a turbulent business environment, managing culture has been considered difficult or even impossible. This study concentrates on one part of organizational culture, namely organizational members' beliefs as a potentially malleable target of managerial intervention. Values are introduced as a sufficiently abstract and general vehicle for influencing organizational beliefs, while the promotion of values means the practices and procedures used to increase value-related awareness and action. In a multinational enterprise, influencing beliefs and promoting values may be especially challenged due to the diverse beliefs of employees. Extant literature has not covered this area sufficiently.

The objectives of the study are to increase understanding of the context and target, content and means, and the process and practices for promoting values in a multinational enterprise, and to discover factors relevant to promoting values successfully. In a qualitative, holistic single-case study setting, the research examines a successful multinational enterprise, Nokia, and its approach to promoting values. Semi-structured interviews with employees, middle managers and top managers are used as a primary source of data. Additionally, various internal and public documents, value-related materials, and observations are used as support for the interviews.

The results confirm organizational beliefs as the malleable target of managerial intervention particularly when the firm maintains a proactive stance towards its environment. The business unit position in relation to an organizational core, and external, global and local orientation are suggested as dimensions to be identified when managing beliefs in an MNE. Values are characterized as a moving target in the field of organizational identity and culture beliefs of organizational members. The significance of constant reinterpretation of values is emphasized, if management wishes to use values as a vehicle for managerial intervention. Acknowledgement of ambiguity is raised as central to making the promotion of values successful. In addition to localizing the promotion of values, firms should develop practices that are particularly focused on managing the ambiguities rather than striving for operational consistency across the range of different subcultures. Practical ideas are presented on how the promotion of values could take place in a global firm.

The qualitative case study in a successful multinational firm provides important input on how the promotion of values takes place at its best. Many questions still remain unanswered, among them the actual impact of promoting values, the process of adopting values and other types and stages of managerial intervention than the promotion of values.

Keywords: organizational beliefs, organizational culture, values, value statements, management by values, promotion of values, value-related socialization, organizational socialization

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© 2007 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26