A 'Value-Free' Approach to Values (PDF File of Powerpoint Slides)

43 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2010 Last revised: 25 Jul 2022

See all articles by Michael C. Jensen

Michael C. Jensen

Harvard Business School; SSRN; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Harvard University - Accounting & Control Unit

Werner Erhard


Date Written: April 11, 2011


We argue here that the three factors we identify as constituting the foundation for being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership can also be seen as “A ‘Value-Free’ Approach to Values” that proves to be very effective in allowing students to acquire the foundations not only for great leadership, but also for a high quality personal life and an extraordinary organization.

We characterize this approach as “value free” because, 1) integrity as we define it (being whole and complete) is a purely positive proposition, 2) authenticity as we define it is also a purely positive proposition (being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others and who you hold yourself to be for yourself), and 3) being committed to something bigger than oneself is also a purely positive proposition (that says nothing about what that commitment should be other than that it be bigger than oneself).

This presentation is based on our leadership research program conducted over the last seven years. That research was designed to discover what it actually takes to create leaders – that is, to leave students at the end of the course being leaders and effectively exercising leadership as their natural self expression.

The current version of the course materials can be viewed at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1263835.

Keywords: Values, Commitment, Integrity, Authenticity, Leadership, Well Being, Efficiency, Workability, Ethics, Morality

JEL Classification: A13, D20, D63, D8, I20, L21

Suggested Citation

Jensen, Michael C. and Erhard, Werner, A 'Value-Free' Approach to Values (PDF File of Powerpoint Slides) (April 11, 2011). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 11-010, Barbados Group Working Paper No. 10-06, Simon School Working Paper No. FR10-26, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1640302 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1640302

Michael C. Jensen (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

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Negotiations, Organizations & Markets
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Harvard University - Accounting & Control Unit ( email )

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