The explosion of interest in the articulation of corporate social values appears under headings like shareholder value (Rappaport, 1986; Copeland, 1994; Jensen, 2000), stakeholder value (Freeman, 1984), customer value (Murphy et al., 1996), business ethics (Velasquez, 1998; Fort, 2001), corporate social responsibility (Carroll, 1999), environmental sustainability (e.g. Tisdell, 1993; Tenbrunsel et al., 2000) or citizenship (Bolino, 1999).

No doubt many expressed corporate values are in reality superficial and hypocritical (Lencion, 2002). These are “those values that come off the shelf and can be bought in tailor-made shapes from communication agencies and other experts” (Antorini and Schultz, 2003). Thomsen (2004) examined fundamental values that are “differences which make a difference” (Bateson, 1979) and “become part of the organizational decision program” (Thyssen, 2003).

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