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Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the experience of a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, as an example of an NFP organisation seeking to develop an ‘agreed’ and ‘common’ set of core corporate/organisational values.

Design/methodology/approach

The main approach is examine the values development process of the College against the organisational values measures of commercialism, community expectation and consensus and what impact these had on the process.

Findings

The finding of the research collected during the development process and the evaluation of the final set of values against the measures highlights the unique challenges that NFP organisations can experience in developing ‘common’ and ‘agreed’ core corporate organisational values.

Research limitations/implications

The research includes qualitative and quantitative research using interviews and surveys of the members of the organisation (the Fellows), the employees of the College and a sample of key external stakeholders.

Practical implications

The case study of the College provides guidance for organisations seeking to undertake a values development process, and the research contributes to the theory of internal communication and organisational development.

Originality/value

This paper uses the unique insights of a case study to provide practical guidance for practitioners on organisational values and their development, especially in the NFP sector. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.