Organizational Integrity

Organizational Integrity (at its most effective) is what happens when leaders consistently immerse an organization in positive ethical values and align all leadership, actions, decisions, messages, and reward systems accordingly.[1]

Organizational integrity requires that organizations do not act in a purely opportunistic manner, but rather align decisions and actions to be consistent with their espoused social values and demonstrate value-attuned responsiveness to their external environment. Despite significant scholarly attention to employee and managerial integrity, the concept of organizational integrity has been largely ignored in organizational and management literature. Organizational integrity is commonly understood as organizational actions that are in accordance with embraced moral or socially accepted values, and the demonstration of value attuned responsiveness to its external environment (Swanson, 1999; Selznick, 1992). Despite significant scholarly attention to individual integrity in relation to employee and leadership behavior within organizations (Bauman, 2013; Palanski & Yammarino, 2007), literature on organizational integrity has not developed in tandem and institutional scholars have not yet taken up in a central way the challenges of maintaining a sustained commitment to integrity (Dacin, Goodstein & Scott, 2002; Goodstein, 2015; Selznick, 2000). Organizational integrity assumes that consistent lines of action are reasonably aligned with embraced moral or socially preferred values. Because values are precarious in nature, in the absence of substantive embeddedness within organizational boundaries, values and commitments are at risk of being subverted (Clark, 1956; Selznick, 1957). Organizational integrity requires that values are not only symbolically espoused but are also deeply embedded within the technical operations and social structures of the organization (Ebrahim, Battilana & Mair, 2014; Kraatz, Ventresca & Deng, 2010). This is vital if an organization is to follow-through on its value commitments (i.e. act with integrity). Therefore, it is conceptualized that organizational integrity as the coherence between formally espoused moral values by top management (Bourne, Jenkins & Parry, 2017), embedded values reflected in the formal organizational structures and systems (Amis, Slack & Hinings, 2002) and shared by its members in organizational routines, beliefs and symbols (Schein, 1985), and the values enacted in organizational actions (Gruys et al., 2008).[2]

  1. Defining Organizational Integrity Leading in Context
  2. Understanding Organizational Integrity Timo Fiorito, Michel Ehrenhard