The Values Gap

I write a lot about the need to understand values because often there is a mismatch between the values of the people in public bodies and the values of the public as a whole. This “Values Gap” can lead to misunderstanding and even worse a loss of trust between those delivering services and those receiving them. In this posting I will give some examples from recent research that TCC have conducted.

The British Values Survey measures the values of around 8,000 people every two years by asking them up to 1,000 questions.  The broad distribution of the UK population across the three primary values groups is represented in the diagram below: 40% Pioneer (inner directed), 30% Prospector (outer directed) and 30% Settler (security and sustenance driven):

Figure 1: Distribution of Values

The short Values Modes questionnaire on our website has been used by in a number of test surveys of audiences made up primarily of public and voluntary sector professionals.  Below, we can see that the vast majority of these are Pioneers.

Figure 2 - Values survey of a group of people mainly working in the public sector

This split emphasises a trend that we have found in a lot of our work across the country – that a large proportion of senior staff, particularly within the public sector, share the same values. Below is another example from a survey we conducted at a recent conference of public service practitioners.

Figure 3 - Values Survey conducted at a recent conference mainly comprising people who work in the public sector

This preponderance of inner directed people within the higher reaches of the public sector is in many ways a positive thing in that Pioneers tend to be optimistic about the possibility for change and share a motivation to improve society as a whole.  However, if 60% of the population do not share these values, and are not motivated by the same things, this can often lead to a “Values Clash”.  If we don’t share, or at least understand other peoples’ values, how can we successfully communicate with them or influence their behaviour? It should also be added this is not just an external issue for organisations and who they engage with, but also presents challenges within very large public sector bodies, when staff in various roles might hold different values.
Below are common examples of a Values Clash that may arise from this Values Gap:
  • Big issue vs little issue. Pioneers want to communicate about issues such as economic regeneration, whilst Settlers might want to talk about graffiti or broken glass.
  • Big community vs little community. Pioneers want to talk about City/region-wide improvements.  Settlers, with a more localised sense of community, just feel this demonstrates ‘other areas get everything’.
  • Optimism vs pessimism. Pioneers tend to believe things can improve in an area while Settlers just think that this optimism demonstrates just how little they ‘get them’ and their reality.
  • Modernisation vs ‘staying the same. Whereas Pioneers may see change as a positive, many people see the past, and everything that came with it, as a ‘better’ time.

As can be seen from the above, these clashes are likely to lead to challenges for public bodies in achieving effective outcomes in key areas such as:

  • Public Health behaviour change
  • Other forms of Behaviour Change – eg environmental, transport, educational etc
  • Big/Civil Society involvement
  • Service Transformation
  • Cohesive Communities

In order to both understand the Values Gap and respond to a Values Clash it is thus important to be able to gather insight into the values of target communities as well as develop a range of values informed communications that engage with people in the right way.

Charlie Mansell is the Research and Development Officer at The Campaign Company. I am grateful to TCC colleague Matthew Upton and former TCC colleague Majeed Neky for their survey work and helpful suggestions that contributed to this posting. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.

13 Responses to “The Values Gap”

  1. Tweets that mention The Values Gap « The Campaign Company’s Blog -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by charliemansell and The Campaign Company, The Campaign Company. The Campaign Company said: The Values Gap […]

  2. Measuring Needs and Motivations for the new Public Health Agenda « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] for the new Public Health Agenda By thecampaigncompany Having recently blogged about the Values Gap and also the connection between Values and occupational class, I now want to address the issue of […]

  3. Community Cohesion is still a key issue « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] and attitudes about this might not automatically be heeded by some in public policy due to the Values Gap which has been previously referred to here. However TCC is pleased that there is a greater recognition of the need to address the issue in the […]

  4. The interplay between Social Networks and Values? « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] report does implicitly cover the issue. The description below illustrates the potential values gap that we have blogged about between the highly networked and those whose values and subsequent social capital is more security […]

  5. Young People and Status Dogs – TCC research leads the way « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] This may also have to be communicated to young people for very different motivational reasons than many public bodies and their staff necessarily would adopt. Much of the focus will be shifting the achievement of self-esteem in more pro-social ways. This […]

  6. “Something for Something” – Is reciprocity now the key public policy debate? « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] within communities with low levels of cohesion. One of the problems we identified is a values gap where public sector organisations often hold values where they might see fairness to be one of big […]

  7. Supporting self-efficacy in less resilient communities « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] well-being of people who do not share those inner-directed values, or will it simply illustrate the Values Gap we have discussed […]

  8. Police Report on Riots: “Community links in the affected areas were often ‘out of date’” « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] and individual resilience by taking account of a community’s  values and avoiding a values gap arising between those delivering public services and those receiving […]

  9. Community Cohesion: the views of white working class communities – new report from JRF « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] identity and criticisms of community cohesion that is often driven by people or organisations with a different set of values to the community affected would all be areas we have drawn out from our own […]

  10. The state of Public Involvement in the Big Society era… a year on « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] this decline be down to a Values Gap that we have previously flagged up as a public policy challenge? Increasingly public policy debates […]

  11. Building a new psychological contract between employees and their employers « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] looking at the gap in values between local authorities and their communities. What we often find is opposite value sets between decision makers and significant sections of the community. Those opposite values lead to conflicting perceptions of the same issue. This has been clear in […]

  12. Power, Organisation and Values | The Campaign Company's Blog Says:

    […] TCC knows from its work that often a Values Gap prevents that from effectively happening. For example the values of a public sector organisation […]

  13. Seaside Towns: can Think Tanks…and Morrissey…be wrong? | The Campaign Company Blog Says:

    […] people in these areas. Motivations come fromvalues the target groups values tend to bevery different to those of both central and local government officers. This has consequences such as how people connect with others, particular values […]

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