The case for Giving Voice to Values

Giving Voice To Values (GVV) is an innovative, cross-disciplinary business curriculum and action-oriented pedagogical approach for developing the skills, knowledge and commitment required to implement values-based leadership.

AccreditationCreated by Mary C. Gentile, GVV provides a new approach to teaching people how to respond to ethical conflicts in the workplace. Rather than the usual focus on ethical analysis, GVV focuses on ethical implementation and asks the question: What would I say and do if I were going to act on my values? Drawing on the actual experiences of managers as well as multi-disciplinary research, GVV helps students identify the many ways to voice their values whilst at work. It provides the opportunity to script and practice in front of peers, equipping future business leaders not only to know what is right, but how to make it happen.

GVV was developed with the support of The Aspen Institute and Yale School of Management and is now supported by Babson College. It has been adopted by more than 125 institutions on six continents and is being used in a variety of disciplines including business, engineering and the arts.

Educators who are using GVV believe that it is changing the way that they teach ethics. "The GVV curriculum is refreshing and effective - a powerful change from the usual way we teach business ethics," says Jessica Renaud, Director, Business Communication Center at Fox School of Business, Temple University. "GVV allows students to understand that living their values is a learnable skill, and like any other, gets easier with practice."

Henri-Claude de Bettignies, Professor at China-Europe International Business School and INSEAD, believes that "GVV is a breakthrough in the teaching of business ethics ... it is an original way to illustrate that beyond our teaching of the value of values we need to find ways to engage into the critical step to make them explicit."

Students have also responded well to GVV. At Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, "the student feedback was exceedingly positive," says Jessica McManus Warnell, Assistant Professional Specialist, "all expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to explore real-world issues and a relevant and practical application of ethical considerations. Our class sessions were lively and the students were very much engaged by the material."

The GVV curriculum is free to educators, for more information visit www.givingvoicetovalues.org.

GVV cases

Cases are integral to the GVV approach and over 35 are currently included in the curriculum alongside exercises, readings, teaching plans and annotated bibliographies.

The cases are short, ranging from between one and four pages, and are designed to be used flexibly by faculty - as the focus for an entire session, as an add on to an existing session, or by using multiple related cases in a single session. The short format allows students to focus on creating scripts and action plans rather than analysing the data often provided in longer cases.

To further encourage students to concentrate on what action they would take, rather than the decision they would make, the GVV cases differ from the traditional case model and conclude with the decision taken by the protagonist.

Kathleen McKone-Sweet, associate professor and chair of the Technology, Operations and Information Management Division at Babson College, uses a GVV case in her Supply Chain Management course. She comments "GVV let me move the class discussion beyond why we should do something to how. I need to give my students practical experiences that will enable them to drive change within their organisations. These cases prepare them to take action." 1

Case snapshots

The cases cover a broad range of subjects, disciplines, industries and geographic locations. A full list can be found at www.givingvoicetovalues.org. Teaching notes are available free to faculty upon request at givingvoicetovalues@babson.edu.

Case title Synopsis Suggested courses
Blue Monday A sales director for a Chinese subsidiary of a multinational pharmaceutical firm is concerned about falling sales but does not want to engage in kickbacks. Marketing, organisational behaviour, sales, team management, leadership, communications and ethics
The Backdating Scandal: Whom am I trying to persuade? The Chairman of the board is faced with the challenge of communicating unwelcome messages to his fellow directors in an effort to save a firm after a scandal has emerged. Corporate governance and ethics
Student Privileges with Strings Attached An undergraduate intern at a consulting firm is pressured to share his university password to enable the firm to access proprietary databases from the school library. Preparing and/or debriefing internship experiences with undergraduates
The Temple Encroachment Issue A civil service officer responsible for enforcing property rights confronts a challenge when a Hindu temple committee begins to build a temple expansion on a neighbouring Muslim business person's property. Diversity, management, global business and ethics
"This Whole System Seems Wrong:" Felipe Montez and Concerns about the Global Supply Chain A young purchasing manager for a Spanish electronics firm confronts disturbing practices in manufacturing supplier plants in China and tries to identify an effective way to make a change. Supply chain management, global business and ethics

About the author

Mary C. Gentile is the Creator and Director of Giving Voice to Values and Senior Research Scholar at Babson College. Previously at Harvard Business School from 1985-1995 and a consultant on management education and leadership development, Gentile is the author of numerous books, cases and articles, including Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What's Right, from Yale University Press. e mgentile3@babson.edu

 

References

1 Coco, D (2010), 'A Strategy for Speaking Up', Babson Magazine, Fall 2010

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