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Non-Family Employees' Interpretations of Organizational Values: A Case Study of a Dispersed Family Business
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Geographically dispersed organizations are becoming increasingly common, however, the organizational culture is often weaker in this type of organization due to geographical distances. One important aspect of the organizational culture is the organizational values, and if shared by all organizational members they can benefit the company on many levels, for example by increasing motivation and communication. If employees, on the other hand, fail to interpret the organizational values it may lead to decreased working moral and overall dissatisfaction. In family businesses it is the values of the family that constitute the organizational values, and these may be difficult to communicate to non-family employees, because family businesses often rely on informal communication.


The purpose of this thesis is to describe how non-family employees interpret the organizational values of a family business, as well as to increase the understanding of whether geographical distance affects their interpretation. In this thesis we have conducted a qualitative case study, in which ten semi-structured interviews were made in a geographically dispersed family business. We have assumed an employee perspective and have, thus, interviewed non-family employees on the different geographical locations of this family business.


The findings from the empirical data showed that the case studied organization does not have any formally written organizational values and the non-family employees have as a result interpreted the values slightly differently. The employees state the organizational values in general terms, which would make them applicable to any organization, or even society at large.


In the analysis we compare the theoretical framework and the empirical findings in order to present conclusions for the organization being studied. The analysis will be divided into themes; organizational structure, organizational culture and values as well as the relation between the non-family employees and the family business.


We were able to conclude that informal communication is not sufficient in order to efficiently communicate the organizational values in a geographically dispersed organization. Nevertheless, the geographical distance for each workplace respectively could not be identified as the only influencing factor that affects the employees’ interpretation of the organizational values. The organizational structure emerged as a contributing factor. The non-family employees’ interpretations were broad and general in terms of the organizational values. One of our recommendations is for the organization to write down the organizational values and distribute them throughout the organization, which will enable the organizational values to be correctly interpreted by all organizational members.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 77 p.
Keyword [en]
Family business, Geographically dispersed, Non-family employees, Organizational structure, Organizational culture, Organizational values, Interpretation, Communication
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-78256OAI: diva2:637400
External cooperation
Family Business X
Educational program
International Business Program
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2013-08-06 Created: 2013-07-17 Last updated: 2013-08-06Bibliographically approved

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