Shared Core Values of High Performing Employee-Owned Enterprises - CLEO Skip to main content


Values represent guidelines for behavior and are important determinants of organizational performance. In addition, employee-owned enterprises (EOEs) tend to outperform traditional organizations. Thus, identifying the core values that underlie successful EOEs should provide insights for improved firm performance. Based on an exploratory comparative analysis of eight high-performing, employee-owned companies, a common set of values that form the basis of their cultures was identified. At one level, four core foundational values – honesty, autonomy, empowerment, and egalitarianism – stood out as enhancing the work experience of individual employees. At another level, four organizational values – accountability, transparency, community, and sustainability – were evident. The identified values do overlap and may serve to support, reinforce, or initiate each other. Moreover, these firms appear to have built management practices and policies that bolster these values. Thus, knowledge of the practices, policies, and core values should be beneficial to organizations seeking high performance.