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Organizational Culture in the Financial Sector: Evidence from a Cross-Industry Analysis of Employee Personal Values and Career

van Hoorn, Andre (2015): Organizational Culture in the Financial Sector: Evidence from a Cross-Industry Analysis of Employee Personal Values and Career. Forthcoming in: Journal of Business Ethics

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Abstract

We assess the organizational culture in the finance industry in relation to the global financial crisis (GFC) and consider the potential of cultural change to improve the financial sector. To avoid (response) biases, we build on the person-organization (P-O) fit literature and develop a novel, indirect method for assessing organizational culture that revolves around relationships between employees’ personal traits and their career success in the industry or organization under study. We analyze personal values concerning the pursuit of private gain (self-enhancement values) versus personal values concerning caring for others (self-transcendence values) and consider whether employees that value self-enhancement more and self-transcendence less enjoy more career success relative to their peers when working in finance than when working in other industries. Results do not reveal any sort of cross-industry differences that would implicate the finance industry’s culture in the financial crisis. Instead, we find the opposite, namely that strong self-enhancement values and weak self-transcendence values go together with less career success in the finance industry compared to other industries. Hence, if anything, the culture in the finance industry does not seem to resonate well with professionals that seek to pursue personal gain at the expense of clients’ welfare. Implication is that cultural change has little potential to improve the financial system. Meanwhile, the method for assessing organizational culture indirectly by analyzing relationships between employees’ traits and their career outcomes has wider applicability, particularly when relying on scores or measures obtained directly from the people concerned is likely to render biased evidence.

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