This article argues that there is a growing convergence between development INGOs and private sector organisations in the way that values are taken up as an instrument of management. Rather than promoting the exploration of difference, managers encourage employees to set aside their concerns and have faith in the organisational mission. In this way they exercise control without appearing to do so, and avoid dealing with the day to day difficulty of undertaking the work. Instead managers feel obliged to promise transformation, because of the increased marketisation and professionalisation of development. The article offers an alternative understanding of values as a profoundly social phenomenon requiring reflection and negotiation through and with others. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.