Core Values & Core Work: Recognizing the Person in the Employee - QC-110

Preferred Disciplines: Social Sciences: Psychology / Sociology / Human Science / Anthropology / Society & Culture / Humanities. Level -- Master, or PhD, or Post-Doc.
Company: N/A
Project Length: 4 monhths
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Montreal, Quebec
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: Preference for Concordia University, or English Montreal-based university.

About Company:

We’re a sub-program of an international social development organization. Our program focuses on Canadian companies, particularly engineering firms, and enables people to contribute to a positive impact on their organization, their industry, and society by understanding who they are and what they can bring to their work

Project Description:

The work of the program focuses on unlocking effective ways of tapping into people’s full potential to contribute positively to society directly through their work. We are looking to research what we believe is a missing element from current organizational trends (leadership development, corporate social responsibility (CSR), etc.). This missing element is an understanding and appreciation of people’s core values. Just as an organization’s culture (the “what” and “why” of its employees) is important; we also believe that the deeper layer (the “what” and “why” of people: their values) is vitally important. Note that the use of “core work” is to emphasize the focus on daily job-related tasks, as opposed to the externalized focus of CSR and similar programs.

The objective is to build programming (tools, activities, etc.) for use in corporate settings across Canada - primarily in engineering workplaces, based on research.

Envisioned outcomes include:

  • individual participants gaining a better understanding of themselves through core values categorization and reflection (work of Schwartz, S.H.);
  • teams using the materials developed together to better understand each other as well as the overall values of their team; and
  • people (notably engineers) discovering how their values align with their roles/positions and what that means for the impact on society they can have.


Background and required skills


Research Objectives/Sub-Objectives:

Examine, explore, and expand upon preliminary work on core values, the place of core values in the context of work, and how core values can be a starting place for more meaningful alignment in work.

  • The work to date has predominantly utilized Schwartz’s values model which depicts the relational quality of values in circular form. Schwartz categorizes values into two bipolar dimensions: Openness to Change vs Conservation, and Self-transcendence vs Self-enhancement.
  • Building on Schwartz's value types (Conformity/Tradition, Security, Power, Achievement, Hedonism, Stimulation, Self-direction, Universalism, Benevolence), which fall under the dimensions mentioned previously, we have expanded the list of values while maintaining their overarching definitions to allow for participants to readily identify themselves in the value types. We’re interested in confirming the list against secondary sources.

Examine, explore, and expand on preliminary work with Q-methodology for qualitative analysis of the alignment between core values and work and workplaces.

  • Taking our expanded list of values, we've created Q-sort value statements​ that participants have begun interacting with. We want to confirm and expand on those value statements through secondary and primary sources (through further prototyping and testing).
  • Conducting the software-based analysis of the Q-sorts based on current areas of inquiry, and proposing new questions that can be answered from the data to inform new insights about the relationship between core values and core work given the research subjects.

Make the case for how core values and work alignment could be a more effective means for increased employee performance, organizational success, and contribution to the betterment of society.

  • Exploring the previously-mentioned gap between current workplace engagement trends and this hypothesized approach.
  • Drawing insights to suggest how core values and core work alignment can engender positive social impacts beyond the individual and team levels (i.e. organizational, industry, and societal betterment).

Findings will serve as the basis for the creation of strategies/tools for corporate participants to explore their values and those present within their teams.

  • Developing recommendations on how to operationalize the insights gleamed from the research to create external facing (participant focused) programming (workshop session content, activities, etc.).
  • Possibly participating in developing web-enabled programming for wider audiences, building on the programming content.


  • Secondary research on personal values, as they pertain to work and workplaces.
  • Secondary and primary research building on the Q-methodology (work of Stephenson, W.  and of Brown, S.) to capture, categorize, compare, contrast, and comprehend the role of core values in the context of work.

Expertise and Skills Needed:

Comfort with and comprehension of existing research on personal values, workplace culture and organizational management, Q-methodology.


For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please


  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
  2. Complete this webform. You will be asked to upload your CV. Remember to indicate the title of the project(s) you are interested in and obtain your professor’s approval to proceed!
  3. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform or directly to Jean-Philippe Valois  at,