Global Discovery of Learner Motivations: Systemic Enhancements within Higher Education


This quantitative study examined data from 1,399 business students across 117 nationalities for the purpose of understanding the eight most prominent values as reported by students. These values help higher education institutions by providing a better understanding of student motivations for the purpose of higher student retention and performance. The data was collected via an online survey distrib- uted through email from participating universities. The top three values in order of priority were (a) fairness; (b) authority; and (c) friendship. Using student data from Ghana, India, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, the study also found sig- nificant differences in the top three values of these students. Relationships between the top three values and the self-construct variables of extrinsic goal orientation, intrinsic goal orientation, self-efficacy, and systemic awareness were established, with one exception: the study did not find a significant interaction between self-efficacy and the value of fairness. The value of authority had the strongest rela- tionship with the self-construct variables. Since healthy self-constructs are a foundation to leadership at the individual level, engaging students within their core values would further their development within higher education. Universities who understand the core values of their students will be able to develop further their students beyond academic performance, and in leadership characteristics.

key words: business education, values, self-construct, colleges, universities, professional schools, constructivism, leadership development, business students, teaching, international education

Ted Sun is the Vice Chancellor at SMC University, Vorstadt 26A, 6300 Zug, Switzerland. email:

Mysoon Otoum is a Business Faculty member at Higher Colleges of Technology, Dubai Women’s College, UAE.


Bruce Stetar oversees the Graduate Business Programs and the outcomes and assessment work in the College of Online and Continuing Education, Southern New Hampshire University. email:


The challenge of higher education in meeting the de- mands of global business has been a daunting systemic issue for many nations. As globalization has driven many nations towards knowledge-based economies, the necessary tech- nology adjustments to educational systems to parallel chang- es in the global economy has remained difficult (Caboni & Adisu, 2004; Cohen, 2012; Guthrie & Springer, 2004). This global business environment calls for graduates who can be systemic thinkers and leaders, while also understanding many dimensions of knowledge creation at all levels of the organization (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Sun, 2007, 2010).

Because the traditional education system was initially de- signed to produce employees for a production environment (Jacques, 1996), behaviorist principles still dominate many aspects of education today (Ormrod, 2006).

At a local campus of a major university, a faculty devel- opment workshop involved discussions about how to mo- tivate students to read course materials before coming to class. For the next 35 minutes, experienced faculty members discussed various behaviors they use to influence students to read course materials in advance. Every idea focused on some behavior that extrinsically motivated the student to behave according to the faculty’s view of a good student.

This type of exchange reflects the behaviorist tendencies still prevalent in education today (Ormrod, 2006). Not once, did a faculty member ask about the intrinsic value or purpose of preparatory reading from the students’ perspective.

Many studies have explored student motivations (e.g., Curasi & Burkhalter, 2009; Hegarty, Brasco, & Fang Lieh, 2012; I-Ying & Wan-Yu, 2012). However, most of the studies have focused on traditional theories that categorize people into generic groups. The application of such studies have failed to identify the student behaviors’ drivers. This study sought to shift the categorization of students towards a sys- temic understanding of students by exploring their core values that drive their motivations. This study takes a much deeper examination of what may be needed to inspire stu- dents. From a systemic perspective, human values drive many aspects of human behavior (Clawson, 2006; Rokeach, 1973; Sun, 2010). If education is going to develop the neces- sary skills to operate in a global environment (Lopes, 2012), then understanding students’ core values as they relate to motivations is one of the first steps in changing the educa- tional system.

Limited empirical evidence exists on student core values from an international perspective. Most studies in interna- tional business default to Hofstede’s (1983, 2001) work when it comes to cultural perspectives of business. In recent years, the complexities of conducting business within a globalized marketplace calls for what Kelley, MacNab, and Worthley (2009) described as a crossvergent approach to business. Such an approach means that global organizations can no longer assume that a single culture will dominate an orga- nization. Instead, the mixture of cultures will emerge within the organization, regardless of the headquarters’ national or organizational culture. Just as successful organizations adapt their management practices in different nations (Bloom & Van Reenen, 2010), higher education institutions also must adapt their approaches to the diversity of student popu- lations. The purpose of this study is to advance innovative ways to explore students’ core motivations from a quantita- tive perspective, while developing a greater understanding

of the relationship between self-constructs that drive success and core motivations.

Literature Review

With the advancement of technology, globalization is in- tegrating cultures like never before. The amount of products and services moving across borders is growing at a stagger- ing rate, such as those between China and the United States (Sun, 2010). For education to keep pace with globalization, businesses need leaders who have a high sense of self-effica- cy and confidence. In order to produce such graduates with these qualities, teaching practices need to incorporate core values, which are important to the student, instead of relying on extrinsic motivational values. Educational philosophies like constructivism explore deeper human dimensions, such as, values to achieve the desired self-constructs that leaders require (Hannah, Woolfolk, & Lord, 2009; Ormrod, 2006; Sun, 2011).

Unfortunately, the products of many university gradu- ates are falling short of the necessary skills for today’s com- plex business environment. Jackson (2010) synthesized many specific soft skills deficiencies such as problem solv- ing, teamwork, cultural and diversity management, meet- ing management, emotional intelligence, leadership skills, self-efficacy, ethics, and responsibility. Within the United States, Schmidt (2008) points to the limited amount of eth- ics being taught in today’s business schools and its possible influence on the credit crunch problem. Ghoshal (2005) also felt that management education is lacking in real busi- ness-world skills with many challenges to ethical conduct. In the UK, Confederation of British Industry (2008a) discov- ered that as many as 27% of employers are not satisfied with the employability skills of the graduates. More recently, they found over half of the employers accept the weaknesses in basic competencies like literacy (54%) and IT skills (61%). Furthermore, during the economic recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, businesses are even more concerned with the lack of sufficiently skilled workers to meet the demands of the current business environment (Confederation of British Industry, 2014b).

Skill deficiencies have created systemic challenges in ed- ucational systems. The first challenge is the behaviorist prin- ciples that dominate educational practices (Jacques, 1996; Ormrod, 2006). They force students to illustrate surface level behaviors in order to pass courses, but do not nurture the development of necessary skills or self-constructs. In order to move beyond the surface of behaviors, the study takes an in-depth exploration of human values and their relationship to self-constructs. Since self-constructs have a significant relationship to many leadership characteristics, such as eth- ics, this study is a starting point for creating a deeper under- standing of student values and motivations in students’ edu- cational journey and how to create leaders for the business world of tomorrow (Sun, 2011).

Challenges of Behaviorism

Moore (2011) wrote behaviorism can be traced to 1879, the birth of psychology as an independent scientific disci- pline. In its first 30 years, psychology spawned two pre- dominate theories – Titchener’s American structuralism and the opposing European functionalism (Zuriff, 1979). Both theories, however, faced difficulties with reliability and agreement in the academic community; and this in turn led Watson (1913) to produce his seminal article promoting be- haviorism (Zuriff, 1979) as the new basis for psychology.

Watson (1913) believed the basis of psychology should be the study of behavior, with experimental observation as its primary method of study (Moore, 2011). Sellars (1963) concurred, professing for something to exist from a psy- chological standpoint it must be observable in someone’s behavior. Behaviorism was one of a series of movements which grew out of a desire to solve the problems of human life through the application of dependable scientific methods (Harzem, 2004). Supporting that view, Moore (2011) stated that behaviorism is objective rather than subjective, using techniques of analysis and measurement, and analyzing be- havior at a detailed and sequential level, avoiding the intro- spective methods previously used.

In the field of education, the constructivists saw the same

flaw. Behaviorists believed there was no room for introspection or internal mental processes in education; rather it was all about the reaction to observable stimuli (Boghossian, 2006). Knowledge was publically observable; therefore, its construction did not take place inside the student (Freiberg, 1999). The constructivists, however, theorized learning in- volved internal introspection and the personal development of knowledge was of the student’s own making (Boghossian, 2006). The constructivists believed students develop new knowledge on a basis of previous learning (Miranda, 2009). Behaviorism was seen as teacher-centered while construc- tivism was seen as student centered (Miranda, 2009), hence the birth of student-centered learning theory.

Other key factors that led to the rejection of behavior- ism included how it highlighted behavior-based techniques but did not provide an educational philosophy for teachers to solve problems they were facing. It also did not coincide with their personal experiences or help them understand how students actually learned or developed as individuals. Behaviorism treated students as a disconnected set of behav- iors rather than a complete entity. Behaviorism theorized the most important rewards, which drove students to perform, came from external factors, like their teachers, as opposed to internal factors, like the students’ own wants, needs, and desires (Strand, Barnes-Holmes, & Barnes-Holmes, 2003). In effect, behaviorism failed to consider what the real core motivators were for students.

Human Values

Human values are typically studied by organization- al psychologists in relationship with leadership (Clawson, 2006; Sun, 2006, 2010). Ancient philosophers like Socrates and Plato explored the realm of values through the process of questions to gain knowledge (Moser & Vander Nat, 1995). Rokeach (1973) was one of contemporary researchers to fo- cus explicitly on human values. Since then, many researchers have explored values as a driver for human behaviors (Beck- er, 2007; Clawson, 2006; Hayibor, Agle, Sears, Sonnenfeld, & Ward, 2011; Sun, 2006, 2010). From an international busi-

ness perspective, there has been very limited work done on exploring human values as a tool for individual development (Sun, 2010). The closest is Hofstede’s (1983, 2001) work on cultural dimensions at the national level. These cultural di- mensions include: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, masculinity, and long-term orientation. While these dimensions have been validated by others, like Boonghee, Donthu, and Lenartowicz (2011), a significant difference exists between the generalization of culture in five dimensions and the specificity of human values such as the 63 individual values identified and researched by Sun (2010). For example, a dimension of power distance con- tains many intrinsic values within a culture. According to Hofstede (1983, 2001), power distance may exist between people from different hierarchical positions, gender, and other backgrounds resulting in various degrees of commu- nication among groups. Looking at this from a human values perspective, values such as courage, wisdom, trust, and a few others, would drive the application of communication skills. This offers a much wider perspective for further exploration, rather than applying labels to people with a certain score of high or low power distance based on their national cul- ture (Sun, 2010). Within the educational context, exploring core values creates a contextual framework towards under- standing learners in the classroom. This moves away from the traditional labeling of students with simple categories, which further develops educational curriculum and avoids challenges in education such as those discussed by Ghoshal (2005). Curriculum design would go beyond content deliv- ery; it would also incorporate a contextual focus on the stra- tegic development of values.

To obtain a greater understanding of human values, Sun (2010) created an instrument to explore the top values of American and Chinese business executives. The original instrument assessed the top eight identified values, as well as the congruence level between theoretical beliefs and be- haviors. Adapting this instrument, this study explored the top eight values of business students. Applying a similar ap- proach to Hofstede’s (2001) work, the study compared the difference of values at the national levels.

Hypothesis 1o: University students studying business do not have specific priorities in their values.

Hypothesis 2o: A statistically significant dif- ference does not exist among the top three self-reported values among the students from different national origins.

Rokeach’s (1973) initial work stated that values are rel- atively stable over time. While there are ample studies that looked at changing values between different generations (e.g., Murphy, Gibson, & Greenwood, 2010; Sessa, Kaba- coff, Deal, & Brown, 2007; Sun, 2011), many studies agree that values are formed early in life and remain relatively consistent (Hofstede, 2001; Ormrod, 2006; Rokeach, 1973; Sun, 2010). From a historical perspective, before globaliza- tion took place, most people did not move between borders. Within the current environment of globalization, the mix- ture of many cultures within multinational enterprises have enabled much more change than the environment during Rokeach’s era. Concepts like crossvergence, where values in- tegrate between national cultures, organizational cultures, and individual experiences are now commonly accepted (Kelley, MacNab, & Worthley, 2006).

Crossvergence also takes place within educational in- stitutions. Global universities, such as Swiss Management Center (SMC) University, have over one hundred national- ities within their student body (SMC University, 2014). The integration of values among students from different nations at various educational levels challenges educators to rethink their teaching strategies, including motivational tools to en- gage the diversity of learners (Ormrod, 2006; Sun, 2011).

Hypothesis 3o: A statistically significant dif- ference does not exist in the top core values self-reported by business students at different educational levels.


The study of self-constructs is a common topic of explo-

ration in the field of leadership and psychology (Sun, 2011). The motivations of students also is a common topic, and re- searchers like Goodpasture and Cripps (2010) sought to have a better understanding of what drives students to make an effort. In order to develop leaders for the global economy, one of the contextual goals in education includes the devel- opment of self-constructs. Self-constructs create a healthy set of internal structures necessary for wise decisions (Han- nah, Woolfolk, & Lord, 2009; Sun, 2011). Especially with the complex demands in a leader’s role, a healthy set of dynamic self-constructs enables leaders to make more strategic choic- es when considering a wider group of stakeholders who may stretch across multiple continents (Kihlstrom, Beer & Klein, 2003; Sun, 2011). In order to look at this issue, this study chose four specific self-constructs.

The first self-construct is self-efficacy (Bandura & Locke, 2003; Bandura, 2012). This construct is one’s ability to learn and adapt (Ormrod, 2006). Self-efficacy beliefs also influence goal systems (Bandura & Locke, 2003). Within the constant- ly changing workplace, self-efficacy enables the adaptability of leaders to successfully traverse various challenges with- in the complex workplace (Burnette, Pollack, & Hoyt, 2010; Sun, 2011). The second self-construct is systemic awareness. Applying the theory of systems thinking, this construct ex- plores one’s awareness of the various systems interacting in a given situation (Checkland, 1999). Rather than approaching issues from a problem-based orientation, systemic thought calls for a broader analysis of the interactivity between the various parts – like stakeholder groups – and creates a sus- tainable solution (Checkland, 1999; Dupoux-Couturier, 2011; Sun, 2007). The last two self-constructs are intrinsic and extrinsic goal orientation. These two often are used by researchers like Adcroft (2010), with student motivations, and by Rogers and Spitzmueller (2009) with organization- al training. These two self-constructs connect common re- search on motivation to this current study.

Synthesis of Human Values and Self-Constructs

This study aimed to determine the interaction between

these four self-constructs and core values. If the relation- ships exist, it would challenge educators to play closer at- tention to individual core values in the context of education.

Hypothesis 4ao: A statistically significant rela- tionship does not exist between extrinsic goal orientations and the top three self-selected core

values of students.

Hypothesis 4bo: A statistically significant rela- tionship does not exist between intrinsic goal orientations and the top three self-selected core values of students.

Hypothesis 4co: A statistically significant rela- tionship does not exist between self-efficacy and the top three self-selected core values of students.

Hypothesis 4do: A statistically significant relationship does not exist between systemic awareness and the top three self-selected core values of students.

Research Design

The system of human values is a complex concept from an empirical perspective due to its subjective nature. Since Rokeach’s (1973) initial work on values, others like Clawson (2006) and Sun (2006, 2010) have used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to assess human values. In order to assess core values at a global level, this study used a descriptive correlational quantitative method- ology to explore the core motivations of business students, as well as four self-constructs that influence their development.

Research Instrument

The instrument for this study had two specific sections. The first section included measures on self-constructs adapt- ed from Sun’s (2011) study of self-constructs and leader- ship behaviors. Using 21 statements, this section measured self-constructs including extrinsic goal motivation, intrinsic goal motivation, self-efficacy, and systemic awareness. The

second section of the instrument used Sun’s (2010) values as- sessment. This was a dynamic instrument that first explored the top eight values of participants. Using a combined list of 63 values derived from the studies of Rokeach (1973), Claw- son (2006), and Sun (2010), participants selected their eight top values. The instrument then dynamically adopted the remaining questions to focus on the top eight core values. Each of the core values had between three to five statements assessing relative importance. Based on the selected values, the second section of the instrument would contain 24 or more statements. For example, when participants selected authority as one of their top values, the instrument included three statements that further evaluated the value: (a) I follow the directions given by my supervisor; (b) I often challenge the decisions passed down from management; and (c) I do not question my superior’s decisions. Each of the statements used a six-point Likert scale. The instrument was critically reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure validity. Cron- bach alpha established reliability at 0.931 for the self-con- struct section and 0.750 for the values section. Cronbach alphas for all constructs were above 0.7.

Population and Sample

The study of core values globally would take many years to complete. In order to create a practical study, the study used the institutional members of the Accreditation Coun- cil for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) Region 8. (ACBSP is an international business accrediting body.) Le- veraging the existing relationships within the accreditation organization created an accessible population. The purpose- ful sampling strategy provided accessible participants across three different continents including Asia, Europe and Africa. Within these continents, the Region had 96 universities and colleges ( These institutions ranged from larger universities with thousands of students to small- er private universities with a few hundred students. Within these 96 universities and colleges, the President of the Re- gion requested participation from students via the university faculty. All of the universities and colleges in the region were given equal opportunity to participate in the study and those

that did participate self-selected their participation in the study. This purposeful sampling strategy yielded 28 univer- sities and colleges, with a total of 1,455 participants.

Data Collection

The initial dialogue concerning the research, with respective faculty in  the  various  institutions,  began at an ACBSP Region 8 Conference including institu- tions from Europe, Africa, and Asia. With the support of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, emails were sent to active ACBSP faculty members within the Region. The email provided a brief overview of the study and a link for participants. The email also invited snowball sampling by requesting these individuals to pass the study onto other faculty within their institutions. Once they received approval from their institution, the faculty invited participation from their students via an email message and provided them with an online link to the survey. This link led to a statement of informed consent which clearly outlined the purpose, risks, and confidentiality of the study. Once students agreed to the informed consent, a web survey recorded the data into a database for later analysis. Over a one-year period, the study gathered 1,399 valid data points from 117 nationalities that resided in 83 different nations.

Analysis of the Data

This study presented numerous ways to analyze the data, especially with the large sample size stretching across 117 nationalities. While the richness of the data offers abundant exploration, the research questions guided the data analysis. All variables were interval. Descriptive statistics tested the first hypotheses (H1a) to determine the ranking of the top eight values and Variance analysis (ANOVA) was used to compare them between national boundaries (H2a) and also to compare them between different educational levels (H3a). Correlational analysis tested the hypotheses 4a, 4b, 4c, and 4d to explore the existence of a relationship between

self-constructs and top three core values. All analyses used a 95% confidence interval. A Shapiro-Wilk test established normal distribution for all data sets.


This study received a total of 1,795 entries of which 1,455 were valid. Upon further analysis, the 1,455 participants fully completed the first section of the instrument but did not complete the second. A total of 1,399 entries had completed the entire instrument enabling the analysis for this study. The descriptive statistics for the demographics revealed an average age of 29 years (see Table 1). The standard deviation was 10.5 years, which may be explained by the growing population of older adults seeking further education. The university rank was just above a third-year student. The gender spread was fairly even at 51.54% females and 48.46% males

Table 1

Descriptive statistics for Demographics (n=1399)

Table 2

Frequency distribution of the #1 value

Table 3

Frequency distribution of the #2 value

Table 3 illustrates the frequency distribution of the sec- ond highest value rankings. Although the second highest value had a wider distribution of weight on more values, fairness remained the most important value (11%).

The trend continues for the third most important val- ue, as the spread of the distribution of values increased. This time, fairness (5.4%) was ranked as the third most important value (see Table 4).

To combine all of the values selected, the study applied a weighting scheme for all values selected, where the highest weight for the top value was eight and the lowest rank for a value was one; the combined weights provided a clear pic- ture of the top eight core values selected by the participants (see Table 5). The value of fairness, authority, and friendship were the top three.

Table 4

Frequency distribution of the #3 value

With the lower ranked values starting at Rank #5, the frequency distribution revealed very limited differences in weights between these values. As a result, although the latter values are more likely to be interchangeable, the data analysis rejects Hypothesis 1o: University students studying business do not have specific priorities in their values. With less difference between the lower values, the later analysis focused primarily on the top three values.

Table 5

Overall values ranking

Using the sum of the highest participation nations and the United States (US), the comparison between the top three values illustrated some interesting differences between the second and third values; although the first value of fair- ness was mostly consistent (see Table 6). The participants from India, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the US all found fairness to be the top value, while the par- ticipants from Ghana showed authority as their top value. Authority also appeared in the second or third values for India, Mongolia, and UAE. This evidence rejects Hypothesis 2o: A statistically significant difference does not exist among the top three self-reported values among the students from different national origins.

Table 6

Top values Comparison by Country of Origin

The third analysis tested the assumption that values do not change significantly over time (Rokeach, 1973). Using only the top value, the study explored the differences in the top value between the various university ranks. Two specif- ic countries were selected based on their high number of participants: India (n= 355) and Ghana (n= 138). The two nations also represented the continents of Asia and Africa. For the Indian students (see Table 7), the variance analysis revealed an F of 2.076 which is lower than Fcritical (2.372). At the same time, a p-value of 0.084 accepts Hypothesis 3o: A statistically significant difference does not exist in the top core values self-reported by business students at different educational levels.

Table 7

One way ANOVA: top core value and university rank from India students

The correlational analysis for the self-constructs and the top three core values showed weak to mild relationships (see Table 8); however, the only relationship that was not statis- tically significant was between fairness and self-efficacy (r

= 0.183). Authority had the highest relationship strength to all of the self-constructs (0.397 > r > 0.440). This evidence rejects three of the four hypotheses (H4ao; H4bo; H4do) where

there is a statistically significant relationship between ex-

trinsic goal orientations, intrinsic goal orientation, systemic awareness and the top three core values. For H4co, only au- thority (r = 0.440) and friendship (r = 0.251) had a statisti- cally significant relationship to self-efficacy.

Table 8

Correlations between self-constructs and top three core values

Table 9

One way ANOVA: top core value and university rank from Ghana students

Discussions and Conclusions

This study makes a significant contribution to the grow- ing literature on students as stakeholders and student-cen- tered learning, especially in the international educational environment. From the 117 nationalities in the study, a value of fairness was dominant as the top priority. Authority was the second most important value, with friendship the third. In the comparison between nations, fairness was the top val- ue for all nations other than Ghana, which had authority as the top value. When it came to the values of lower priority, the mixture of values are more complex with little alignment between values. This result creates an interesting challenge for universities with students with a diverse student popula- tion. The differences of student values from various nation- alities challenge faculty in aligning the teaching methodolo- gies and content to those core values.

The findings of the top two values align with Jacques’ (1996) view of the traditional educational system, produc- ing employees who are to be managed. The value of fairness reflects a struggle between the hierarchical system of edu- cation, which places students at the bottom of the hierar- chy, against their desire for development and growth. The value of authority is one of the contextual outcomes of the traditional educational system that provides ample power to managers to control employees. In combination, the top two values reflect the needs of an industrial era that has long past. Depending on the nation and its development, the out- come of these top two values illustrates some of the funda- mental challenges of business education today that calls for innovative thinkers and knowledge workers.

The lack of differences in value between educational lev- els confirms Rokeach’s (1973) view that values do not change significantly. Within a range of years from the first-year student to a fourth-year student in India, the importance of fairness showed no statistically significant differences be- tween these university ranks. The same was found in Ghana. This presents an interesting challenge for education – with the massive shift towards globalization, the shift of core val- ues has to transpire in order to create business leaders. With a struggle in fairness and compliance to authority, shifting students’ top values would require a conscious approach at the curriculum design level as well as changes in educational practices.

The findings of correlations showed statistically sig- nificant relationship between self-constructs and top core values, except for the value of fairness and self-efficacy (r

= 0.183). The value of authority had the strongest relation- ship with the self-constructs (0.397 < r < 0.440). Fairness had weak relationship with extrinsic goal orientations (r = 0.220), intrinsic goal orientations (r = 0.274), and systemic awareness (r = 0.225). These relationships provide evidence towards the importance of core values in the development of healthy self-constructs.

One of the unexpected findings is the relationship be- tween top values. The top third value of friendship had a

negative correlation with the top second value of authority (r = -0.203). This presents an internal conflict between core values amongst the students. Such lack of congruence be- tween core values will create further challenges within the workplace (Williams, 1993). Since the complexity of global- ization calls for strategic choices by leaders, congruence be- tween one’s values becomes one of many responsibilities for the educational system.

Implications for Business Education

The value of university education is constantly under challenge by various stakeholders (McClung & Werner, 2008). While many universities market their approach to be some form of student-centered, the processes and models of education remain relatively unchanged since the industrial revolution. If one were to truly embody educational meth- odologies, like constructivism, faculty and administration would have complete knowledge of students’ core values. Unfortunately, this is not a reality in some universities.

At a regional conference of ACBSP with academics from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, faculty from various uni- versities stated their perception of student values to include: growth/learning, freedom, achievement, socialization, and “getting a job.” Such perceptions are far from the list of the findings of this study. To make a significant impact on stu- dents, a process of understanding students’ core values can help mold educational content to the students so that the learning becomes meaningful. Such meaning will impact the relative ability to recall meaningful content when need- ed (Ormrod, 2006). Similar to organizational practices of values, connecting the various subjects and assignments to core values enables the construction of new knowledge and authentic development of new skills (Clawson, 2006; Orm- rod, 2006; Sun, 2006). The completion of the instrument in this study or similar processes to explore core values, would take minimal time at the start of a new course. Faculty would then be able to weave student values into course concepts and theories. This practice would reflect the student-cen- tered approach to learning while developing congruence be-

tween the educational system and the student. For example, since self-efficacy had the strongest correlation (r=0.440) with core value of authority, faculty would focus students on building self-efficacy within every course. Since self-efficacy takes time to develop, faculty would need to maintain an in- ventory of student characteristics, which is far beyond the typical systems that capture grades and demographics (Ban- dura, 2012; Bandura & Locke, 2003; Sun, 2011). This process enables the consistent development within the educational journey of the students. As students learn to become more efficient in learning, the improvement in learning skills would further motivate their learning, regardless of the con- tent of the course.

Another common practice in education is the use of categorization, which is a traditional management practice (Jacques, 1996). When working with a diverse group of stu- dents from various nationalities, Hofstede’s (2001) cultural dimensions are commonly used. While the five dimensions (categories) offer great insight to one’s national culture, glo- balization has brought the simplicity of these dimensions into question. First, each of these dimensions contains mul- tiple values. Second, as nations develop, certain cities and regions within a nation acquire more interaction with the international business environment. Each interaction shapes their cultural practices, resulting in crossvergence (Kelley, MacNab, & Worthley, 2006). Educational institutions would integrate the understanding of values as its primary tool to drive learning. Instead of faculty manipulating student mo- tivation with grades, they would explore the students’ per- spective of fairness since it was the highest ranked value. De- pending on the course, faculty can guide students to assess the financial investment from students and compare to the return of knowledge and skills gained within a course. Indi- vidual learning plans would then maximize return to drive student engagement.

Within the business educational environment, students are interacting with other nationalities. Assuming one’s be- haviors based on the five cultural dimensions of origin (con- tent) could lead to some fundamental challenges. Using a

values-based approach to understanding students, offers a much richer variety of motivational tools as well as learning strategies. This is much like creating a masterpiece – where the student is the canvas. A categorical approach would only provide five colors (if one applied Hofstede’s cultural dimen- sions). The contextual approach to discovering values pro- vides 63 different colors in which to weave course content. Even more important, the process of learning about the student reflects the student-centered approach, rather than

simple categorization. The 63 values would provide faculty abundant motivational strategies in any part of the world. With a mastery and effective application of core values, uni- versities would have the basis of knowledge necessary to develop students’ healthy self-constructs consciously. This research, exploring values of students, initiates the systemic development of how higher education can engage students and the potential impact to developing business leaders.


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