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Imprints, Self-reinforcement and Active Reinforcement: The Case of Corporate Value Statements.
University of Borås, Swedish School of Textiles.
2013 (English)In: Self-Reinforcing Processes in and Among Organizations / [ed] Jörg Sydow, Georg Schreyögg, Palgrave Macmillan , 2013Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The concept of organizational imprinting (Stinchcombe, 1965) refers to the long-term effects of founding conditions on an organization’s structure, strategy, and other features. While Stinchcombe’s original work mainly referred to overall social structures in the new firm’s environment, more recent research has highlighted the agency-driven nature of imprinting processes (Johnson, 2007) and particularly emphasized the role of firm founders on such processes (Boeker, 1989). Recent research on imprinting has also emphasized that the birth of a firm is not the only point in time when imprinting may occur (Van Driel & Dolfsma, 2009). From the very beginning, imprinting research has distinguished between the imprinting process as such and the retention of imprints through traditionalizing forces during later phases of the firm’s life cycle (Stinchcombe, 1965). In this chapter we focus on the retention and the possible reinforcement of imprints. One category of imprints that is typically attributed to founders is that of corporate values. Schein (1983; 1985) as well as Kimberly and Bouchikhi (1995) emphasize that the values of start-up firms are often strongly influenced by the personal values of the founder. At least during the tenure of the founder, it is quite likely that the imprints he or she has made will survive (Boeker, 1989). At the same time, there are forces that may dilute founders’ values over time. These include the increasing cultural fragmentation of a growing firm (Smircich, 1983) or the hiring of external managers (Schein, 1983). In order to understand the long-term survival of imprints, it is therefore important to investigate, how and under what circumstances founders’ imprints are reproduced over time in an organization. In this chapter we explore the role of formal corporate value statements in the retention and reinforcement of values imprinted on the organization. Value statements can be seen as a deliberate attempt to offset a self-reinforcing process that stabilizes values. Following Schein (1983), we argue that value statements represent artifacts that mirror – or at least claim to mirror – the values that the founder originally imprinted on the organization. Empirically, we are going to study the cases of three Swedish firms from different industry contexts that have initiated processes of formulating corporate value statements. In the remaining parts of the chapter we outline our frame of reference and methodology before presenting the three cases. These are going to be analyzed, linking back to the theoretical framework, before rounding off the paper with conclusions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Palgrave Macmillan , 2013.
Keyword [en]
corporat values, self-reinforcing processes, path dependence, strategy, imprinting, founder, management
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Bussiness and IT
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-5113Local ID: 2320/11834ISBN: 978-0230392823 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-5113DiVA: diva2:884534
Available from: 2015-12-17 Created: 2015-12-17

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  • apa
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