Organizational Culture

Putting Value Congruence to Work

The term value congruence, or value “fit,” has received much attention lately from both scientists and business leaders. The concept of value congruence is generally intuitive – when there is a match between employee and organization value systems, positive outcomes will result. This article will explain the benefits of value congruence, and show you how you can put value congruence to work in your organization.

Value Congruence and Positive Outcomes

Both individuals and organizations have value systems that dictate their attitudes, behaviors, and the ways in which they allocate resources. Value congruence occurs when the value system of an employee coincides with the value system of an organization. Value congruence can lead to several valuable outcomes for both the organization and the individual:
  • Job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is a positive emotional experience associated with one’s job. Satisfied employees are more productive and experience less stress than dissatisfied employees.
  • Organizational identification. Organizational identification derives from an employee’s sense of belonging to the organization. Employees who feel like they belong are likely to be more committed to the organization, more productive, and more likely to engage in extra-role behaviors – helping behaviors that go above and beyond the duties of an employee’s position.
  • Intent to stay. Intent to stay is an employee’s intent to remain with the organization over some period of time. Intent to stay is contingent upon both job satisfaction and organizational identification.
Although the link between value congruence and positive organizational outcomes has been firmly established, until recently it was not clear why this process takes place. Rather than directly causing positive outcomes, value congruence primarily leads to positive outcomes through the enhancement of communication and trust between the organization and the employee. Value Congruence -> Trust + Communication -> Positive Outcomes That is, when value congruence between an employee and the organization is high, there tends to be high levels of trust and communication between the two parties.

Practical Implications

Value congruence can be utilized to increase positive outcomes such as job satisfaction, identification with the organization, and intent to stay with the organization. There are several strategies that managers can use to maximize positive outcomes that result from value congruence. 1. Value congruence can be addressed during the hiring process. Match applicant value profiles with those of the organization in order to select employees with good value fit to the organization. 2. Socialize new employees toward the cultural values of the organization.  Incorporate organizational values into new employee training and reinforce them throughout the onboarding period – the extended process of assimilating new members into the organization. 3. For current employees, focus on strategies that directly impact trust and communication:
  • Increase trust by being honest with employees about organizational and supervisor decision-making processes, ensuring that processes such as performance appraisal and distribution of resources are perceived as fair.
  • Increase the benefits that result from good communication by ensuring frequent and open communication between management and employees, and among employees themselves.
Throughout various stages of employment, value congruence is a useful concept that managers can leverage to improve positive outcomes for both the organization and employees alike.

Interpretation by:

Michelle Toelle


This was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Edwards, J.R. & Cable, D.M. (2009). The value of value congruence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94 (3), 654-677.