Societal conditions form the context in which private enterprises, organizations and individuals operate. Their actions are fundamentally influenced by this context. However, in virtue of acting, these individuals and enterprises help to shape the very societal structures and conditions that influence their behavior. Values reflect the social conditions that individuals and societies are subject to. Groups and individuals respond to the societal conditions in which they live and generate values that enable them to cope with or master these conditions. Values can thereby be regarded as serving societal goals. The importance of values for human behavior is beyond dispute. It is therefore quite surprising to see the extent to which this issue has been neglected by researchers in the area of business administration. This past neglect has made it essential to investigate the impact that social networks have on the formation, prioritization, stabilization and change of values in society.

We use the Schwartz’ theory of basic human values that has inspired hundreds of studies in the last 25 years. Schwartz postulates the existence of a finite set of basic values, organized in a circular motivational continuum. The theory can help to explain how the value priorities are shaped and change and influence our attitudes and behavior. We study all the issues longitudinally in school classes in dozens of schools in Switzerland and Poland. This project is one of the biggest studies on value development in children and adolescents in the world in a social network framework. We use several measures for children including picture-based ones like for example the picture based measure of attitudes towards immigrants and handicap.

We analyze several outcomes of value priorities, for example attitudes, and focus on how the attitudes are related to values and how do they change in social network of school classes. We also extend our substantive research on immigration, for example by examining the relation between contextual conditions like the economy or state policies and attitudes toward immigration, by considering various predictors beyond values to explain negative attitudes toward immigration, or by modeling a societal growth curve model for studying the effect of the economic crisis on perceived ethnic threat.

In the project we use state-of-the-art methodology and test the quality of all our measures. Therefore we use several recently developed methodological approaches including testing for measurement invariance in a Bayesian framework to examine approximate rather than exact measurement invariance. We apply these approaches both to value measurements and to the measures of attitudes toward immigration. Particularly for the subproject focusing on immigration, we use in addition to the school data, data from the immigration module in the 7th round of the European Social Survey (ESS), which we developed together with other European collaborators and implemented in the ESS.