There has, perhaps, never been a better time to talk about values. Public discourse seems to suggest an “us and them” culture, a growing distance between the establishment and the public, between those who sit at the top of organisations and the wider workforce. Lack of trust and an entrenched cynicism appear to be the societal backdrop to multiple institutional failures, whether it be the NHS and substandard care, or big banks and the rigging of markets, or the mis-selling of financial products. At the same time, businesses are accused of pursuing short-term shareholder value at the expense of long-term sustainability and the wider community. The scene would seem to be set for a reconsideration of the value of values, why they are so important and yet often prove so elusive and difficult to embed.

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