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Study aims to prove corporate values can drive success, improve communities

December 12, 2012

CVDL LECTURE SERIES (31)Lisle, Illinois ~ Every company worth its weight in smartphones touts it has a values-based corporate culture essential to its business but one university seeks to make them prove it.

Benedictine University’s Center for Values-Driven Leadership (CVDL) will explore the relationship between corporate culture and business success in small to midsize organizations by conducting a three-year study of 30 companies. The study is co-conducted with Small Giants Community, a global group of company leaders that seek to define success not solely as profit but also based on community contributions, customer service and the creation and preservation of excellent workplace cultures.

The researchers are analyzing every business aspect of the companies studied and will publishfindings for public review. But why would these companies want to allow researchers in and submit themselves to invasive analysis with the potential of uncovering an area with a negative assessment?

Study organizers say the best companies want to know the good with the bad.

“Good leaders want to know where they stand.” said Jim Ludema, CVDL director and principal researcher. “We think this research will clearly define the link between values-driven behaviors (such as caring for employees and the community, or developing a culture of excellence) and business success as seen through profit, job creation and growth.”

The Return on Values initiative will take a close look at 30 companies that are industry leaders in profit, culture and values. These companies will be identified as part of the research. The initiative also includes a longitudinal survey research of 5,000 companies and the researchers will publish a list of the names of these companies, but will keep their survey results confidential.

The research hopes to benefit the public by giving entrepreneurs, leaders, business school faculty and policy makers clear guideposts for strengthening the economy by growing small and midsize companies through a values-driven approach, Ludema said. The ultimate benefit will be stronger businesses filled with happy employees, thriving communities and a stronger economy.

“This high-quality research directly identifies how global business leaders benefit society through small to large businesses across all industry segments,” said Sandra L. Gill, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business at Benedictine. “Beyond profit, these companies improve their communities and customer service. Our Center for Values-Driven Leadership is honored to initiate this landmark longitudinal research study with Small Giants. We hope these best practices will advance values-driven leaders in practice and positive social impact.”

Benedictine’s CVDL instructs senior leaders who are pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Business Administration (Ph.D./D.B.A.) in Values-Driven Leadership. The degrees are specifically designed for senior leaders committed to using the creativity and discipline of business to create short-term and long-term shareholder value, enrich people’s lives, and produce products and services that benefit society and contribute to the health and sustainability of the planet.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the eighth consecutive year in 2018. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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