Between “Is” and “Ought”: A Philosophical Investigation of Personal Values and Their Application in Managerial Practice

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The inquiry aims to clarify the philosophical meaning of personal values, as well as their utility for work psychology and business. Personal values motivate work behaviors, yet management looks at them mechanistically, potentially missing on a complete view of the individuality of their employees. Values are personal insofar as they express our absolute existential freedom. Their socially formed and prescriptive motivational aspects merge with the responsibility to act authentically, constructing our own moral reality. The inquiry distinguishes personal values from emotions, preferences, attitudes, norms, needs, and interests. With expositions on philosophy and social science, it is argued that values and facts are not necessary contradictory. Ultimately, the responsibility of managers nowadays is to facilitate the process where employees’ personal values take a stronger lead in guiding their work behaviors, which could in turn build cooperative and innovative company cultures.

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