Competing Values Framework (CVF)

What is the Competing Values Framework (CVF)?

The Competing Values Framework (CVF) is a model used in organizational management and leadership to understand, assess, and develop organizational culture, leadership competencies, and effectiveness. Developed by Robert Quinn and John Rohrbaugh through research conducted on the major indicators of effective organizations, CVF highlights the competing and contradictory demands faced by organizations and how they balance these demands. The framework is represented as a two-dimensional model, with one axis representing a focus from internal to external orientation and the other axis representing a focus from stability and control to flexibility and change.

The Four Quadrants of CVF

The Competing Values Framework divides organizational culture into four major types, each representing a distinct set of organizational values, beliefs, and behavioral norms. These quadrants are:

  • Clan Culture (Collaborate): Characterized by a family-like atmosphere, focusing on mentorship, teamwork, and consensus. It emphasizes internal maintenance with flexibility and concern for people.
  • Adhocracy Culture (Create): Focused on innovation, creativity, and adaptability. This culture values external positioning with an emphasis on growth, resource acquisition, and flexibility. It's dynamic and entrepreneurial, often seen in start-ups or industries driven by innovation.
  • Market Culture (Compete): Oriented towards competitiveness and goal achievement. It emphasizes external maintenance with a focus on stability and control. Organizations with a market culture are result-driven, focusing on winning in the marketplace by outperforming competitors.
  • Hierarchy Culture (Control): Emphasizes order, rules, and efficiency. It's characterized by internal maintenance with a focus on stability and control. This culture values organized, methodical approaches to work and decision-making, with clear structures and processes.

Applications of the Competing Values Framework

  • Organizational Culture Assessment: Helps in diagnosing and understanding an organization’s culture, providing insights into how it operates and its core values.
  • Leadership Development: Identifies the diverse competencies and managerial behaviors needed to effectively navigate different cultural contexts within an organization.
  • Change Management: Guides organizations in cultural transformation efforts by identifying the current state, desired future state, and strategies for managing change.
  • Strategic Planning and Decision-making: Assists leaders in aligning organizational strategies with the prevailing or desired culture to ensure coherence and effectiveness.

Benefits of Using CVF

  • Comprehensive Understanding: Provides a holistic view of an organization’s culture and how it impacts performance and effectiveness.
  • Flexibility and Balance: Highlights the importance of balancing competing demands and adapting leadership styles to meet organizational needs.
  • Improved Performance: By aligning organizational culture with strategy and leadership, companies can enhance their overall performance and competitiveness.
  • Enhanced Organizational Health: Facilitates the development of a positive, adaptive culture that supports growth, innovation, and employee satisfaction.

Challenges in Applying CVF

  • Complexity in Implementation: Understanding and applying the framework across different organizational contexts can be complex due to the dynamic nature of culture.
  • Resistance to Change: Organizational culture change initiatives may face resistance from employees accustomed to established norms and values.
  • Balancing Competing Values: Finding the right balance between the competing demands represented in the CVF can be challenging for leaders.


The Competing Values Framework offers a powerful lens for examining and developing organizational culture and leadership. By understanding the inherent tensions and competing demands within organizations, leaders can better navigate change, foster a positive culture, and enhance overall effectiveness. The CVF encourages a balanced approach to organizational dynamics, emphasizing the need for adaptability and strategic alignment between culture, leadership, and organizational goals.

See Also

The Competing Values Framework (CVF) is a model for organizational culture, leadership, and effectiveness developed by Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron of the University of Michigan. It's built around four core values or quadrants representing fundamental beliefs and assumptions about effective organizational behavior. The CVF illustrates how these values compete or create tension within organizations, hence the name. The framework helps assess and understand an organization's culture, identify its strengths and weaknesses, and guide its development and managerial strategy.

  • Organizational Culture: Discussing the values, beliefs, and norms that influence the way employees and management interact and handle business operations.
  • Organizational Effectiveness: Covering the concept of how effective an organization is in achieving the outcomes it intends to produce.
  • Change Management: Explaining the approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations to a desired future state, often involving shifts in culture.
  • Leadership Styles: Discussing various approaches to leadership, such as transformational, transactional, and servant leadership, and their alignment with different cultural types in the CVF.
  • Strategic Management: Covering the formulation and implementation of major goals and initiatives taken by an organization's top management on behalf of owners.
  • Human Resource Management (HRM): Discussing the strategic approach to the effective management of people in an organization, which is influenced by the organization's culture.
  • Innovation Management: Explaining the discipline of managing processes in innovation, particularly relevant to the adhocracy quadrant of the CVF.
  • Corporate Governance: Covering the system of rules, practices, and processes by which a firm is directed and controlled, related to the hierarchy and market quadrants.
  • Team Dynamics: Discussing the behavioral relationships between members within a team, influenced by the organization's prevailing culture.
  • Performance Metrics: Explaining the measurements used to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of actions, which can vary significantly across different cultural types.


The Competing Values Framework, developed by Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron gives a classification of four corporate cultures, which indicate how a company operates, how employees collaborate and what the corporate values are. Via the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), a method to assess organizational culture, the Competing Values Framework is filled with assessment results of the now and future state.[1]

  1. What is Competing Values Framework (CVF)? Toolshero