Communicating Culture Consistently: Evidence from Banks

48 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2019 Last revised: 11 Apr 2019

See all articles by Jillian Grennan

Jillian Grennan

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Date Written: April 10, 2019


Regulators and executives say corporate culture has a meaningful effect on performance, yet identifying when culture is misaligned with aspiration is challenging. This makes implementing solutions to improve culture even more difficult. This study shows a simple mechanism -- communicating culture consistently -- is linked to superior performance. The data for testing the mechanism comes from publicly available information, signifying its value as a potential diagnostic tool. Using historical versions of websites from 2004 to 2017 for 300 U.S. banks, I extract the content of cultural values (e.g., integrity). A majority of banks inconsistently communicate their values across website themes (e.g., about us, career, community, culture, and investor relations). The banks that communicate their cultural values consistently before the onset of the financial crisis have better operating and stock performance during the crisis. While banks significantly improve consistency after the crisis, the positive association is evident over the full sample. Additional findings that compare holdings of private mortgage-backed securities and bad loans suggest that the positive influence of communicating culture consistently derives from aligning employees' expectations, especially when unforeseen events arise.

Keywords: Corporate Culture, Bank Culture, Risk-Taking, Integrity, Values, Norms, Intangible Assets, Firm Value, Financial Crisis, Expectation Formation, Banking, Financial Intermediation, Financial Services, Labor and Finance, Personnel Economics

JEL Classification: D22, G01, G21, G30, M14, M48, M50, M54

Suggested Citation

Grennan, Jillian, Communicating Culture Consistently: Evidence from Banks (April 10, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Jillian Grennan (Contact Author)

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

215 Morris St., Suite 300
Durham, NC 27701
United States

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