Common Values? Fifty-Two Cases of Value Semantics Copying on Corporate Websites

Human Systems Management, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 249-265

20 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2013 Last revised: 13 Aug 2015

See all articles by Steffen Roth

Steffen Roth

La Rochelle Business School; University of Witten-Herdecke

Date Written: December 13, 2013


The present article claims that value communication literally goes without saying. Research in organizational value communication as in corporate image documents is therefore assumed to have nothing to do with the analysis of explicit value semantics. This system-theoretical claim is supported by an analysis of corporate value semantics, which is particularly focused on the copying of value semantics from one corporate website to another. As a result, we present a list of 52 companies that have copied value statements from corporate websites of RobecoSAM sector leaders listed in the DJSI. In referring to these examples, we demonstrate that the copying of value semantics makes the best case for exercising caution when it comes to the idea that value semantics promote organizational goals. Finally, we suggest that the value copying affects corporate value communication in a same vein as spam impairs the use of email and argue for an analytical turn from research in communication on values to research in value communication, which opens up new spaces for a management through allusion and, in doing so, could complement the more popular approaches to a management by value metaphors.

Keywords: organizational values, value semantics, value communication, information ethics, corporate websites, plagiarism, social systems

JEL Classification: M14

Suggested Citation

Roth, Steffen, Common Values? Fifty-Two Cases of Value Semantics Copying on Corporate Websites (December 13, 2013). Human Systems Management, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 249-265, Available at SSRN:

Steffen Roth (Contact Author)

La Rochelle Business School ( email )

102 rue de Coureilles
Les Minimes
La Rochelle, 17024

University of Witten-Herdecke ( email )

Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50
Witten, 58448

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