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Competing Values Framework Tool


An organizational culture is very abstract and is often more about feeling than tangible evidence. Researchers Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron came to the conclusion that there are two factors to examine when describing an organization’s cultural type: the degree of flexibility versus controlling behavior and internal focus versus external orientation.

These factors highlight a core value that is opposite from the value on the other end of the continuum- -i.e., flexibility versus stability, internal versus external. The dimensions, therefore, produce quadrants that are also contradictory or competing on the diagonal. These competing or opposite values in each quadrant give rise the name for the model, the Competing Values Framework which describes the core approaches to thinking, behaving, and organizing associated with human activity.

The upper left quadrant identifies values that emphasize an internal, organic focus, whereas the lower right quadrant identifies values that emphasize external, control focus.

Similarly, the upper right quadrant identifies values that emphasize external, organic focus whereas the lower left quadrant emphasizes internal, control values.

Some organizations and managers are viewed as effective if they are changing, adaptable, and transformational. Other are viewed as effective if they are stable, predictable, and consistent. This continuum ranges from versatility and pliability on one end to steadiness and durability on the other end.

Leadership development and executive education programs often focus on competencies and capabilities that reside in each of the four different quadrants. The specific leadership tools and techniques that receive emphasis are often determined by the orga­nization’s own culture, aspirations for change, competencies of the senior leadership team, or the data feedback that individuals receive from various assessments.

For example, tools and techniques such as teamwork, collaboration, talent management, empowerment, or inter-personal relationships could be highlighted in the upper left quadrant.

The opposite kinds of tools or techniques, such as competitiveness, fast response, decisive­ness, driving through barriers, or goal achieve­ment, could be highlighted in the lower right quadrant.

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