I am attempting to understand the use of values and principles in organizational communication.

According to Merriam-Webster values are defined as

  • the amount of money that something is worth
  • the price or cost of something something that can be bought for a low or fair price
  • usefulness or importance

And principles are defined as

  • a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions
  • a basic truth or theory : an idea that forms the basis of something
  • a law or fact of nature that explains how something works or why something happens

Blogs such BrokenMindSet and EnergizedWork describe them differently as are the terms when searching online.

For example, these are some of the principles that can be found by searching online

  • Operation efficiency
  • Retain and grow revenue
  • Establish barriers to competition

These are examples of values

  • Customer-centric
  • Accountability
  • Integrity

How do i use these terms in organizational conversations?

  • How does one differentiate between principles and values?
  • How do you define principles and what would be examples of these?
  • How do you define values and what would be examples of these?
  • 1
    It would be beneficial to provide context that warrants a downvote so that i can update or amend the question.
    – Motivated
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 2:49
  • Principles are laws that govern human nature and relationships. I would be very skeptical of anyone or any website that promoted this definition, since it is simplistic indeed. Gravity determines our physical characteristics, but nothing "governs" human nature, and you only have to look at human history for the last three millennia (or even just the last three months) to see how complex, varied, and often evil it is.
    – Cargill
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 2:50
  • @Cargill - How would you define principles then as well as values?
    – Motivated
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 3:07
  • Frankly, the variation in definitions of the two words are so great that it's meaningless to try to draw a fine distinction between them. One man's values are another man's prejudices, and a third man's habits.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 3:56
  • 1
    @Motivated- from that standpoint I actually think values drive principles.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 5:45

1 Answer 1


Values are things that give us the sense of right and wrong whereas principles are rules of any subject or area. We live our lives following values. For example:

'Being honest' and 'speaking the truth' are values.

'Gravity'is a principle of physics.

  • Thanks. How do you apply these in the context of organizational conversations as in the examples provided?
    – Motivated
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 3:34
  • @Motivated - see my edited answer
    – Kirti
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 3:38
  • Thanks however that doesn't answer my question regarding organizational conversations e.g. What is operational efficiency? Is it a value or principle?
    – Motivated
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 3:47
  • 1
    @Motivated 'Operational efficiency' is a benchmark, not a value or principle.
    – Kirti
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 4:04
  • If operational efficiency is a benchmark, what are examples of organizational principles and values?
    – Motivated
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 4:11

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