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Mission, vision, and values: What do they say?


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Despite widespread recognition of its importance, very little empirical research has been conducted on strategy documents, particularly Mission or Vision statements. A database containing 489 organizational statements from 300 different organizations was analyzed via content analysis to determine how many distinct concepts could be identified and the most commonly used con-cepts. Statements were carefully read to deter-mine if multiple use of a term within a single statement indicated multiple meanings. The results indicate that while traditional titles are most often used to label such statements, there is a wide variety of terms used to express the ideas contained in them. Many organizational state-ments contain so many unique concepts that they begin to suffer from high density.
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Despite widespread recognition of its importance,
very little empirical research has been conducted
on strategy documents, particularly Mission or
Vision statements. A database containing 489
organizational statements from 300 different
organizations was analyzed via content analysis
to determine how many distinct concepts could
be identified and the most commonly used con-
cepts. Statements were carefully read to deter-
mine if multiple use of a term within a single
statement indicated multiple meanings. The
results indicate that while traditional titles are
most often used to label such statements, there is
a wide variety of terms used to express the ideas
contained in them. Many organizational state-
ments contain so many unique concepts that they
begin to suffer from high density.
“Typically, executives devote a tiny
percentage of their time and effort to gaining
understanding, a tiny percentage to creating
alignment, and the vast majority to
documenting and writing a statement. In fact,
the distribution of time and effort should be
nearly the opposite: spend the vast majority
of your time creating alignment. In short,
worry about what you do as an organization,
not what you say” (Collins, 2009).
The field of business ethics has been around for
quite awhile. Unfortunately it has yet to develop
a generally recognized body of knowledge or an
applied ethical perspective. What we have today
are discourses on acceptable and unacceptable
Volume 29 Number 1 Spring 2011
Mission, Vision, and Values:
What Do They Say?
Steven H. Cady, Jane V. Wheeler,
Jeff DeWolf, Michelle Brodke
Dr. Steven H. Cady is strongly committed
to using cutting-edge approaches that
inspire innovative and collaborative solu-
tions. He is a Graduate Faculty member at
Bowling Green State University where he
serves as Director of the Institute for
Organizational Effectiveness. He has also
served as Director of the Executive Master
of Organization Development Program
and the Chief Editor for the Organization Development
Journal. Steve publishes, teaches, and consults on topics of
organizational behavior & psychology, change management,
and organization development. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in
Organizational Behavior with a support area in Research
Methods and Psychology from Florida State University, Steve
studied at the University of Central Florida where he obtained
an MBA and a BSBA in Finance.
Contact Information
Steven H. Cady, Ph.D.
Department of Management
College of Business Administration
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403
Tel: (419) 372-9388
ethical behavior, treatises on actions that should
and should not be taken, and conversations about
the appropriate attitudes to be espoused. These
contributions, all equally valuable, are from busi-
ness academics and philosophers alike. Yet, there
is no true agreement between these sides (Robin,
In 2002, because of unethical practices employed
by the likes of Enron, we saw the passage of the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which called for a Code of
Ethics. Then in 2008 and 2009 we saw the virtual
melt down of the American corporate system.
Not surprisingly, practitioners and academics
alike, now more than ever, need to delineate the
factors that make up the ethical organization (Jin
& Drozdenko, 2010).
It seems that people are not listening. Recent data
from the Ethics Resource Center show that over
50% of U.S. employees watched at least one
occurrence of unethical conduct in the workplace
during the past year. Further, more than a third
watched a second as well (Verschoor, 2005).
Jim Collins, the management expert quoted
above, seems to be suggesting that there is a mis-
alignment between a company’s message and its
actions (Collins, 2009). One piece of evidence that
we can look towards is the company’s mission
statement. During the 1990s, more than half of
the U.S. businesses had some kind of mission or
vision statement (Levering, 2000; Walter, 1995).
This number doubled from 10 years earlier
(Levering, 2000). One of the reasons for their
recent popularity is that these “statements” try to
capture the inherent nature of the company
(Verma, 2009). Further, a value statement can act
as an ultimate control system; as long as the val-
ues are agreed upon, there is need for control
64 Organization Development Journal
Dr. Michelle Brodke joined the Bowling
Green State University faculty in 2008 as
an assistant professor in the department
of applied sciences at Firelands College.
Brodke earned her Ph.D. from Bowling
Green State University's industrial-orga-
nizational psychology program, ranked
one of the top five graduate programs in
the United States. She has 16 years of
experience in addressing organizational challenges both in
academe and industry. Brodke's research interests include
job attitudes, teamwork, and psychometrics. In addition to
publishing, she has presented her work at several regional
and international conferences.
Jeffrey J. De Wolf, MOD is President
and Managing Principal of WOLF HR
Solutions an Overland Park, KS based
human resources and organization
development consultancy. He is a sen-
ior-level HR and OD Consultant assist-
ing organizations of all sizes apply solid
organizational and HR infrastructure
solutions to improve both effectiveness
and compliance. His dedicated focus
on “intentional simplicity”, which is evidenced by WOLF’s
practical solutions and interventions, has made him a
favorite of busy, results-oriented business leaders. He
holds a Masters in Organization Development from
Bowling Green State University and a Bachelors in Business
Administration from the University of Michigan. Jeff can be
reached at 913-219-5353 or
Dr. Jane V. Wheeler is the past director of both the Master
of Organizational Development Program and the Institute
for Organizational Effectiveness at
Bowling Green State University. A pro-
fessor in the Management Department,
she teaches primarily courses on lead-
ership, change, consulting, and
research. She is a member of the
Academy of Management, the Mid West
Academy of Management, the
Organizational Behavior Teaching
Society, and the Organizational Development Network. Dr.
Wheeler maintains an active consulting practice focusing
on issues of emotional intelligence, executive leadership,
and corporate governance. In addition to a doctorate in
organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve
University, Dr. Wheeler holds an MBA from Boston
University, a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration
and Management from Harvard University, and a BA from
Mount Holyoke College.
(Verma, 2009).
These statements are found on the wall in the con-
ference room. We have all seen them. “Our com-
pany strives to be the best...” They show up as
glossy wall posters, table tents, and even laminat-
ed wallet cards. They are typically used by
organizations to describe why the entity exists,
what it is striving to accomplish, what it stands
for, and how it plans to achieve its objectives.
These statements have become an integral compo-
nent of corporate strategy. Statements of this type
have become common and expected fixtures with-
in every type of organization regardless of indus-
try, size, or for-profit status. The creation, publi-
cation, and distribution of these statements is one
of the most common business practices today.
Yet, little empirical research has been done on the
subject of corporate mission statements and the
The most basic of all unresolved issues on this
topic is what to call the statements of this genre in
general. Two primary purposes that mission
statements serve (Klemm et al., 1991) are external
and internal communication and motivation
(Verma, 2009). They are typically strategic in
nature, so they could be called “strategy” state-
ments. Yet, they are often descriptive of an orga-
nization’s identity, so they could be called “identi-
ty” statements. They often describe why an
organization exists and what it is seeking to
accomplish; thus, they could be called “impera-
tive” statements, “purpose” statements or just
plain “mission” or “vision” statements. Although
lacking a creative flair, “Formalized
Organizational Statements” seems to allow for the
generality needed when referring to the entire
genre of statements typically carrying the label of
mission, vision, values, purpose, and principles.
CEO David Fagiano indicated that “organizations
are living organisms, in many ways very similar
to individuals. People have personalities; organi-
zations have cultures. Personalities and cultures
are formed by values because, quite simply, val-
ues state what is important to individuals or busi-
nesses” (Fagiano, 1995, p. 5). Strong formalized
organizational statements can provide landmarks
along the way. Just as a buoy marks a shipping
lane and keeps a ship heading in the chosen direc-
tion, formalized organizational statements pro-
vide the benchmarks to keep an organization,
work groups, and individuals on the right path.
Personal experience has taught us that individuals
in organizations can get so caught up in the race
that they forget why they are running. Sooner or
later a crisis jars the organization into a painful
awareness that they are seriously off course.
Therefore, if organizations want to maximize pro-
ductivity and ensure that they are doing the
“right” work, they must provide organizational
members with a clear understanding of who they
are, where they are going, and how they are
going to get there (see Falsey, 1989).
In order to assist organizational leaders in crafting
stronger statements, an empirical analysis of the
concepts contained within formalized organiza-
tional statements must be done. For the purpose
of this study, the term “concept” refers to any ele-
ment, idea, expression, unique thought, or
descriptive language communicated either explic-
itly or implicitly within a formalized organiza-
tional statement. To date, little empirical work
has been done that clearly identifies the unique
concepts typically included in formalized organi-
zational statements and their frequency of use.
The questions that should be answered empirical-
ly include: Which concepts are being expressed
Volume 29 Number 1 Spring 2011
most typically in these statements? Are there
common concepts that seem to be “fashionable”
or “trendy?” Understanding these concepts will
provide practical insights to future statement
writers, allowing them to both avoid cliché and
include key concepts.
The goal of this study is to conduct a detailed
classical content analysis using a large number of
formalized organizational statements from a het-
erogeneous group of organizations throughout
the United States. This content analysis will pro-
duce an exhaustive list of the most commonly
used elements and provide valuable insight
regarding the inclinations of organizations in this
In addition, this study seeks to raise awareness of
the issues facing practitioners and executives as
they consider the creation of a formalized organi-
zational statement. It is clear that there is an
obvious lack of consistency and standards related
to the labeling of these statements. Perhaps it is
time to create some universal norms that can be
used to communicate and educate organizations
and students regarding this key piece of strategic
planning and implementation. Maybe then
employees can begin to respond to Jim Collins’
call to “spend the vast majority of your time creating
alignment” (Collins, 2009).
Literature Review
Although the use of formalized organizational
statements has been widespread in the United
States for several years, there has not been a sig-
nificant amount of research done that addresses
the content of these formalized statements, or the
most common frameworks employed in their con-
struction. In fact, there is a void in the literature
regarding what these statements actually entail.
For example, an Internet database search, of most
key business and industry journals, yielded only a
handful of related articles that were empirical or
theoretical in nature. There are a certain number
of studies that include mission statements from a
sample of companies, yet with little or no analysis
attached (Abrahams, 1995; 2004; Graham &
Havlick, 1994; Jones & Kahaner, 1995; Williams,
2008). Most articles are anecdotal in nature. Of the
scholarly articles, very few evaluated the content
and structure of formalized organizational state-
ments (see David & David, 2003; Williams, 2008).
Studies Looking at Structure and Meaning
One recent study (Williams, 2008) did look at the
content of the mission statements. It analyzed the
statements gathered from firms listed on the 2006
Fortune 1000 list. After conducting a content
analysis of these firms’ mission statements, it was
found that the higher-performing firms included
eight of the nine recommended components more
often than did the lower-performing firms, and
the differences were significant for three of those
components (Williams, 2008). The results of the
study stressed the continuing importance of mis-
sion statements. Further, it showed that the con-
tent components have not changed significantly
in the past 20 years (Williams, 2008). Yet, the
study also noted that the authors of mission state-
ments usually provided rationales for the compo-
nents and labels that they used. Not surprisingly,
the resulting variations in terminology and defini-
tions limited the comparability of some studies
with others. Any long-term benefits were mini-
mized. Therefore, although this serious flaw in
the mission statement literature had been identi-
fied before (e.g., Bart et al., 2001; Peyrefitte &
David, 2006; Williams, 2008), it has not yet been
66 Organization Development Journal
In another study (Firmin & Gilson, 2010), the mis-
sion statements of 107 member institutions of the
Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities
(CCCU) were analyzed. The analysis looked at
the frequency of words used in the statements as
well as the general constructs expressed. The
results in the article were discussed in light of
higher education's overall objectives and how
mission statements set the tone for institutional
setting (Firmin & Gilson, 2010). Yet this content
analysis looked at the statements’ role in provid-
ing religious training and other aspects of the uni-
versity’s function. Another study, focusing on
CEOs, dealt with the structure and meaning of
organizational vision in the macro sense of the
word (Larwood, 1995). This study revealed that a
vision statement might be a result of having
vision or a vehicle for communicating the vision.
However, the study did not examine the content
of the statements themselves. Another major
study involving vision looked at the effect of a
salient vision on strategic involvement and man-
agers’ perceptions (Oswald, Mossholder, &
Harris, 1997).
Although there were numerous articles touting
the need for formalized pronouncements of cor-
porate identity, mission, or values, as well as arti-
cles describing how to write and communicate
such statements (for example, see Wall, Sobol, &
Solum, 1992; Scott, Jaffee, & Tobe, 1993), few
seemed to carefully analyze the content and struc-
ture of these central pieces of organizational phi-
losophy. Interestingly, one study found that 82%
of organizations surveyed had mission state-
ments, yet only 40% of those statements appeared
to organization members to reflect reality (Wright,
2002). The pervasiveness of use suggests a need
to conduct research regarding content and struc-
ture of these statements, to ultimately determine
if these statements achieve their intended pur-
Studies Looking at the Relationship with
Company Performance
Little research has been done on the relationship
between mission statements and company per-
formance, and one study that did find mixed
results (Bart & Baetz, 1998). Yet, no one seems to
doubt the value of formalized organizational
statements. One interesting article, published in
The Economist, involving multinational managers
(Only, 1995), proposed that the globalization
underway in many industries today has forced
managers into a new paradigm characterized by
new players and partnerships. This article
explains that “it is far more effective to get people
to believe in the company’s values, than to keep
issuing them with instructions and keeping a
close eye on their performance” (Only, 1995, p.
Two Other Studies
Another recent study (Davis et al., 2007) wanted
to understand the influence of a mission state-
ment’s ethical contents on university students. It
found that those universities with ethical state-
ments in their mission produced a significantly
higher number of students with perceived charac-
ter trait importance in comparison to the universi-
ties that did not contain these statements. Yet, it
was found further that the mission by itself did
not produce any orientation unless coupled with
the overall strategic education process (Krohe,
1995). In another recent study (Verma, 2009),
undertaken to understand the perception and
influence of mission statements on executive
behavior, found that the mission’s message did
not get across to the intended target audience.
Another study (Palmer & Short, 2008) analyzed
Volume 29 Number 1 Spring 2011
the content of mission statements from 408
AACSB schools. The relationship between mis-
sion content and measures of business school
characteristics, including performance, was exam-
ined. Overall, considerable variance in the content
of organizational missions existed. One final
study (Desmidt & Prinzie, 2008) examined the
data from four Flemish nonprofit healthcare
organizations. A self-administered questionnaire
was distributed to all 4,443 organizational mem-
bers of the participating organizations. One of the
main findings of this study was that organization-
al members rarely engage in the behaviors associ-
ated with the management of mission statement
meaning (Desmidt & Prinzie, 2008).
According to William J. Morin (1995), Chairman
of Drake Beam, Morin Inc., our society, in general,
is in the midst of a “value crisis” (Morin, 1995, p.
10). He observes that we “are becoming a people
without rudders, without vision and with values
that have very little value at all” (Morin, 1995, p.
10). This situation has resulted in a concept he
calls “Silent Sabotage” which he defines as “a
turned-off, disenfranchised society that gives up
in silent disapproval; it's a worker who comes in
later and goes home earlier than he or she did 10
years ago; it's people at work who just don't care”
(Morin, 1995, p. 10). To counteract this effect in
organizations, leaders must cultivate and align a
common set of values and a clear vision (Collins,
After conducting exhaustive research into the
essence of companies that have achieved the label
of “visionary,” Collins and Porras (1997) conclud-
ed that a fundamental element found in all these
companies is the presence of a core ideology. The
authors describe this as “core values and sense of
purpose beyond just making money – that guides
and inspires people throughout the organization
and remains relatively fixed for long periods of
time” (Collins et al., 1997, p. 48). In fact, highly
successful and visionary companies have been
more ideologically driven than purely profit-driv-
en (Collins et al., 1997, p. 55).
In another study, Ledford, senior research scien-
tist at the Center for Effective Organizations,
University of Southern California, refers to a con-
cept called “corporate philosophy” (Ledford,
Wendenhof, & Strahley, 1995, p. 4). They use this
term to include any expression of a corporation’s
philosophy, whether the vehicle is a list of values,
a vision statement, a mission statement, credo,
purpose or other document.
Yet, according to many, the need is deeper than
simply producing visionary statements. In the
words of former National Semi-Conductor CEO
Gil Amelio when discussing his experience turn-
ing around that company, “... just publishing a
Vision statement and speaking in visionary terms
at your communications meetings doesn't auto-
matically enroll your people to accept it, believe
it, and make it work” (Terdoslavich, 1996, p. 115).
For example, another interesting concept gaining
popularity is that of “Bi-Focal” vision. This is the
rather profound concept that stresses the need for
clear vision of the distant future as well as clear
vision of the here and now (Harari, 1997, p. 46).
Values statements have become extremely popu-
lar in the recent past. More than half of the val-
ues statements in the United States were created
between 1989 and 1995 (Walter, 1995). This num-
ber was double of what there were in the eighties
(Levering, 2000).
In fact, upwards of 80 % of the Fortune 500 com-
panies in the United States have something that
68 Organization Development Journal
they call a “values statement” (Walter, 1995, p.
87). In an interview conducted with Medtronic
CEO Bill George, the company’s success was said
to be found in “rock-solid, mission-driven values
that are nonnegotiable and universal” (McKibben,
1995, p. 20).
Many organizations prefer the term “mission
statement” when communicating core beliefs or
purpose. Most commonly, mission or purpose
statements clearly state the foundational reason
the organization exists. Gerald B. Johanneson,
president of Haworth Inc, says “We feel a mission
statement lays it right out there as to the kind of
company we are and what our principles are and
what our objectives are and how we want to
work” (Nelton, 1994, p. 61).
Although there is not necessarily a right or
wrong way to use labels such as "Vision",
"Values", or "Mission", this variation can lead to
confusion. Organizations are using each of these
tools in many different ways with different tech-
niques and with different levels of success. This
confusion may cause hesitancy on the part of
organizational leaders to undertake the task of
guiding their companies using strong formalized
organizational statements. In addition, the bar-
rage of different formalized statements may dilute
the motivational power and short-circuit the state-
ment’s effectiveness. Ultimately, the impact of
such statements may be diminished if they are not
constructed carefully and sensibly. No wonder, in
yet one last study (Panda & Gupta, 2003), little
emotional commitment was found with the mis-
sion statement, regardless of the longer term
implications for the survival of the company.
The data analyzed in this study were collected
originally via direct mail by an author assembling
a book to contain the “mission statements” of
approximately 300 American corporations. The
sample thus provided a good cross-section of het-
erogeneous companies from dozens of industries.
The statements were originally gathered and com-
piled by author Jeffrey Abrahams for his book
entitled “The Mission Statement Book”.
Abrahams (1995; 1999) explains in his book that
he wrote to 2,600 companies requesting copies of
their mission statements. Because little to no
qualitative analysis has been conducted on mis-
sion statements, we chose to look at this data at a
starting point for analysis. We will discuss in the
implications section next steps for future research
related to comparing content over time. The
sources of that list of companies included the
Fortune 2000, the Forbes 200, the Inc. 500, and The
100 Best Companies to Work for in America. He also
indicated that 875 responded to his inquiry, and
that 374 actually acknowledged that they had
some sort of mission statement.
The data included in the sample consisted of the
actual formalized organizational statements from
the 300 organizations. These included organiza-
tions from a multitude of industries and varied in
terms of size and scope. Many of the companies
in the sample included more than one distinct
statement. Several included separately titled
statements within one larger statement context.
The total number of distinct statements in the
sample was 489. This included 15 statements that
were left untitled by the organization.
Volume 29 Number 1 Spring 2011
It is not known whether those companies
responding to the request for statements actually
included all of their formalized organizational
strategy statements or only their “mission state-
ment.” The actual letter used in the collection of
the statements requested the company’s “mission”
statement. Therefore, it is safe to assume that a
significant number of the companies included in
the sample have additional statements worthy of
Similarly, it is important to note that a company’s
response indicating that they did not have a “mis-
sion statement” does not necessarily mean that
they have no formalized organizational state-
ments. The responder may have considered the
request specific to those statements entitled “mis-
sion.” Other responders clearly interpreted the
request as any formalized statement that is “mis-
sion-like.” Therefore, Abrahams’ (1995; 2004)
high-level statistics showing that only 43% of
responders actually had mission statements,
should not be construed as the percentage of com-
panies that truly employ formalized organization-
al statements in general.
For the purpose of the current study, the variety
included in Abraham’s sample was the primary
attractive characteristic. The sample provides a
good heterogeneous data population from which
to do a content analysis.
Since the premise of this paper is exploratory in
nature, classical content analysis was employed,
using a complex text analysis methodology.
Although each individual occurrence of a con-
cept’s descriptive word was not coded, if the con-
cept emerged in separate sections of a statement
or in a slightly different context, it was coded
again. In other words, if the word “quality” was
used several times in the same sentence, it was
not coded unless it represented or described a
unique circumstance. For example, the following
statement would be coded as including two
occurrences of the concept of “Quality-
General/TQM”: “We strive to give employees a
quality work environment as we continuously
improve our quality as determined by our cus-
tomers.” Conversely, the following text would
only receive one occurrence of the concept of
“Quality-General/TQM: “Everything we do has
the highest quality. Quality is important
because…” This required painstaking evaluation
and eliminated the ability to use a simple text
search functionality to identify occurrences of the
The 474 titled statements included in the sample
were identified by their companies using 46 dif-
ferent names. Fifteen of the statements were left
untitled. Table 1 includes the titles and their fre-
quency of use within the sample, sorted by fre-
After the coding was complete, the total number
of separate codes identified and created was 122.
Table 2 illustrates the frequency with which the
various concepts were found within the data. The
frequency of occurrence reflects the number of
times the concept was mentioned within the con-
text of the sample. In some cases, an individual
statement may have contained more than one
occurrence of the concept.
As identified in the tables, 489 statements were
provided by the 300 companies included in the
sample, resulting in a ratio of 1.63 statements per
70 Organization Development Journal
company. It should be noted that one should not
determine from this that companies typically have
more than one statement, nor should it be con-
strued that companies have an average of 1.63
separate formalized organizational statements.
Volume 29 Number 1 Spring 2011
Freq. Title Freq. Title
216 Mission 1 Code of Ethics
78 Vision 1 Corporate Culture
45 Values 1 Credo
23 Principles 1Defining Statements
20 Strategies 1Directional Statement
15 Untitled 1Ethics
13 Purpose 1Expectations
10 Goals 1Heritage
9Philosophy 1 Idea
8 Objectives 1 Mission & Purpose
6Creed 1 Mission and Driving Forces
5Commitment 1Mission, Philosophy and
4Beliefs 1Objective & Strategy
4Strategic Imperatives 1Organization
3Core Values & Belief 1 Promise
3Values & Mission 1Pledge To Shareholders
2Aspirations 1Quality Commitment
2Mission & Philosophy 1Quality Statement
2Philosophy/Values 1Statement of Policy
2Values & Strategies 1Strategies & Objectives
2Values & Vision 1Values & Beliefs
1Application 1Values & Practices
1Basic Game Plan 1Vision/Mission
Standards of Performance
Table 1. Titles by Frequency of Occurrence
72 Organization Development Journal
Table 2: Concepts Found in the Sample - By Frequency
Freq. Concept Freq. Concept
255 Shareholder Return/Value 77 Efficiency/Speed/Quickness
230 Quality-General/TQM 76
Customer Needs/Expectations
Met/Exceeded 75 Environmental Focus
210 Financial Performance/Profitability 74
Relationship/Partnership/ Interests
197 Integrity/Ethics 73 Leadership
196 Innovation/Creativity 72
193 Community Focus/Involvement 68 Customer Satisfaction
Training/Development/Growth 68 Fairness
141 Market Position/ Leadership/Reputation 66 Trust
137 Business Expansion/Growth 65 Diversity/Equal Employment
116 Continuous Improvement 64
Work Environment –
116 Quality Products & Services 61 Dedication/Devotion
114 Value/Affordability/Low Price 61 Responsiveness
105 Excellence 55 Competitiveness
104 Customer Service 52 Communication (Internal)
101 Employee Respect/Dignity 52 Effectiveness
91 Employee Recognition/Rewards 52 Financial Strength/Health
82 Consistency 50 Customer Focus
82 Teamwork 49 Employee Retention & Attraction
81 Safety 47
Change – Managing, Embracing,
78 Employee Advancement/ Opportunity 45 Empowerment
Volume 29 Number 1 Spring 2011
Freq. Concept Freq. Concept
44 Productivity/Productivity Improvement 22 Initiative
42 Core Competency/General Strengths 22 Organization Structure
41 Employee as Valuable/Asset/Importance 22 Risk Taking
38 Employee Skills 20 Employee Inspiration/Motivation
37 Accountability 19 Acquisitions
Employee Participation/ Participative
Environment 19 Excitement/Enthusiasm/ Energy
37 Operational Results/High Performance 18 Achievement Orientation
37 Professionalism 18 Friendliness/Courtesy
35 Adding Value 16 Industry Knowledge/Awareness
34 Product Mix/Diversification 15 Customer Welfare
33 Quality of Life 14 Cooperation
32 Customer Relationships 14 Planning
32 Employee Involvement 13 Autonomy/Freedom
31 Pride 13 Strategic Alliances/JVs
31 Quality Service 12 Caring
30 Employee Satisfaction 12 Employee Security
29 Aggressiveness 12 Fun at Work
29 Reliability 12 Ownership
27 Product/Business Development 12 Research & Development
26 Balance of Responsibilities 11 Customer Convenience
26 Distinctiveness/Unique 11 Decentralization
26 Employee Benefits/Compensation 11 Differentiation
26 Flexibility/Adaptability 11 Good place to work/Preferred Employer
24 Longevity/Tradition/Legacy/Heritage 11 Problem Solving
23 Accomplishment 9Customer Retention
23 Learning Organization 9Employee Utilization
23 Market Share 9Employee Well-Being
Following the detailed analysis of the sample,
several observations are made. First, the bulk of
the organizations opted to use traditional titles to
describe their formalized statements. Second,
although there was a significant list of distinct
concepts included in the sample, there was a
strong consistency between the statements in
terms of a few key concepts. Third, evaluation of
the statements revealed a phenomenon we refer
to as concept “density” in which several unique
and highly meaningful concepts are loaded into a
very short statement, thus creating a density that
can be measured, as described below.
The titles used to describe formalized organiza-
tional statements range from highly traditional to
unique. While some organizations choose to
leave their statements untitled, others choose to
create their own title by combining one or more
traditional titles.
It is interesting to note that just 10% of the titles
were applied to 78% of the statements. The top
five most frequently used titles (Mission, Vision,
Values, Principles, and Strategies) resulted in 382
of the 489 total statements. This seems to indicate
that the majority of companies choose to use tra-
ditional titles versus opting for a more unique
and creative approach.
Analysis of the statements, however, revealed that
the specific concepts within the statements are
often communicated uniquely and without using
traditional words or phrases. For instance, the
concept of Shareholder Return/Value was an over-
whelmingly pleonastic concept in the sample.
The statement writers described the recipients of
that return or value, as shareholders, stockhold-
74 Organization Development Journal
Freq. Concept Freq. Concept
8Centralization/Coordination 3Hard Work
8Simplicity 3Ingenuity/Resourcefulness
8Stability 3 Progressiveness
8Urgent 2Agility/Agile Thinking
8Walk The Talk Work Environment 2Empathy/Compassion
7Customer Loyalty 2 Joy
7“Dynamicness” 2Zero Defects
7Employee Loyalty 1Aliveness
6Communication (External) 1Customer Relations
5 Feedback/Advice/Input 1 Greatness
5Golden Rule 1Union Relationship
5Market Oriented
4Gain/Profit Sharing
ers, stakeholders, share owners, investors, stock-
owners, owners, to name a few. These occur-
rences were unique but all communicated the
same concept. This careful analysis revealed that
the concept of “Shareholder Return/Value” was
mentioned 255 times. This should be contrasted
with the 114 times the word “Shareholders” was
used as indicated by Abrahams (1995; 2004). It
should also be noted that it was Abrahams’ inten-
tion only to illustrate the most common key
words and phrases used in the statements. He
did not intend his word and phrase counts to be
interpreted as inclusive of the concepts being
communicated. Hence, this particular study, by
applying a complex content analysis, provides a
more comprehensive evaluation of concepts com-
In many instances, the same concept emerged
multiple times within the statements provided by
a company. Sometimes, company officials includ-
ed the same concept in all of their separate state-
ments. In addition, there were multiple examples
of companies using a particular concept several
times within the same statement.
While carefully reviewing the data, we were often
amazed by the number of distinct concepts com-
municated within a statement or even within a
sentence. We use the term “density” to describe
this phenomenon. A quick tabulation of the
results shows the total number of concept occur-
rences to be 5,673. This means that on average;
nearly 12 different concepts were discussed per
statement and 18 different concepts per company.
There were many, many instances of organiza-
tions packing up to 20 strategic and descriptive
words and concepts into a very short statement.
Limitations and Further Research
Although this research provides good empirical
data with which to understand the concepts that
companies are communicating with their formal-
ized organizational statements, there is significant
room for additional study. Future qualitative
analysis projects should focus on understanding
the actual proliferation of formalized organiza-
tional statements within organizations. This
study does not attempt to answer the question of
how many companies have formally written state-
ments. Neither does it contemplate the number of
different statements a company writes over time.
Rather, our focus was on examining the conceptu-
al framework inherent in mission statements.
Since the data are over 10 years old, we ask: What
is different today? As mentioned, we see this
study as a starting point for a conceptual frame-
work. From here, future research can look at how
the core concepts identified here have changed
over time.
In addition, future research could investigate rela-
tionships between various concepts within the
context of a statement. This would allow for the
gathering of additional insights into what things
are being communicated within each uniquely
titled statement. Understanding what is currently
being communicated as vision, purpose, mission,
or values would be the first step in developing a
framework that could lead to consistent societal
definitions of the mission, vision, purpose, or val-
ues statement.
Although we are not convinced that there is sig-
nificance in what a company chooses to call their
statement, developing norms around formalized
organizational statements would enhance the abil-
ity to communicate about them in corporate and
Volume 29 Number 1 Spring 2011
educational settings. In addition, a universal
framework could assist organizations in the
development of these statements and create a
sense of familiarity. The blank sheet being used
today would be replaced with a general frame-
work within which to work.
Finally, there seems to be a need for additional
research into the concept of density within state-
ments. For instance, is there a correlation
between the density of a statement and the level
of ownership within the organization? Is there a
correlation between density and organization per-
As for practical implications, executives will
acknowledge that there is a widespread skepti-
cism within many organizations today regarding
the corporate mission statement. Fueled by popu-
lar comic strips that provide a satirical look at the
things organizations say and do, employees are
becoming cynically aware of overused, under-
practiced corporate rhetoric.
There were clear instances that the impact of the
statement seemed to be diminished and diluted
by all the corporate buzzwords and politically
correct terminology (see also Lewis, 1999). A pop-
ular approach was to attempt to communicate
multiple messages or feelings by strategically
employing key words and phrases. In those
cases, there was no attempt to clarify, explain, or
operationalize the concepts. In our opinion, this
phenomenon gives the appearance that the com-
pany felt a concept was important enough to
include in their formalized organizational state-
ment, but not important enough to explain what it
meant or how it would be applied practically.
Another interesting result of the study related to
the recurrence of various concepts across state-
ments and organizations. It was clear that a small
number of concepts are consistently included in
formalized organizational statements. There is a
“short list” of issues that companies feel must or
should be communicated within their personal,
formalized statements. This is probably, in large
measure, indicative of the fact that most compa-
nies have similar needs, motives, objectives and
concerns. For-profit companies exist in an envi-
ronment that is built upon providing a specific
product or service to a customer while meeting
certain financial expectations as prescribed by the
owners or investors of the organization. Because
of that, it should be expected that their formalized
organizational statements of mission, vision, or
values center on issues dealing with quality, serv-
ice, customers, and shareholders.
We believe it is important for leaders and strategic
planning consultants to acknowledge this danger
and work to ensure that the concepts being
expressed in formalized organizational statements
are reflective of the organization’s true identity.
Employees and customers are more sophisticated
now, and are easily seeing through the trendy
business buzzwords being used. We hope that
this research sets the stage for future conversation
and more exploration into the meaning and use of
mission statements as a viable mechanism for an
organization’s identity and culture.
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... For instance, an organisation may develop mission statements to align its employees with the organisational goals (Verma, 2010). The organisational mission and value statements may also serve as a form of control mechanism (Cady, Wheeler, DeWolf & Brodke, 2011). As stated by Verma (2010): ...
... As indicated by Verma (2009), mission statements serve to capture the inherent nature of the company. The mission and values of the organisation could also act as a control mechanism (Cady, Wheeler, DeWolf & Brodke, 2011;Verma, 2009). The leader invoked the mission as part of his guiding strategies and used the statement to ensure quality on the services offered. ...
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This study explores the principles and practices of business ethics in commercial organisations in Singapore. It also addresses the potential of the concept, restorative justice as a feature of ethical practice in commercial organisations. Two research questions guided the study which were i) what are the principles and practices of business ethics in commercial organisations based in Singapore and ii) what is the potential of restorative justice in commercial organisations based in Singapore?
... Es decir, manifiesta el valor que la compañía aporta a la sociedad. (Mañas-Viniegra, 2020, p. 29) La evolución de las prácticas de RSC se ha encaminado en los últimos tiempos hacia una reforma de la tradicional 'misión, visión y valores' (Cady et al., 2011), apostando por desarrollar un concepto de mayor compromiso social como es el 'propósito' empresarial donde las corporaciones no solamente creen valor para sus accionistas sino para todos los stakeholders, de tal manera que los negocios reorienten sus estrategias generando valor social para su comunidad apoyando, de esa manera un mundo más sostenible, compensando aquellas huellas medioambientales y/o sociales que hayan ocasionado perdida de bienestar al entorno donde cada empresa se mueva. ...
Este artículo investiga la gestión de la reputación de las empresas integradas en el índice bursátil español IBEX 35 y su relación con la existencia, o no, de propósito empresarial, ligándolo con la gestión de RSC. Además, se plantea la disyuntiva sobre qué tipo de equipos están más preparados, si los departamentos de Comunicación olos de Marketing. Para ello se solicitó la colaboración de todas las entidades delIBEX que contestaron un cuestionario sobre la materia. En paralelo, se analizaronotros informes sobre reputación y una parte de la doctrina, cruzando algunos datospara obtener determinadas conclusiones.
... The strategic ambition, which is defined by the mission and vision, is another consideration that is important in determining strategy. The mission statement of an organisation sets out what it does in terms of its purpose and focus areas, while the vision statement provides the aspirational long-term goal of what the organisation aims to become and to do in the future (Skrt & Antoncic, 2004;Cady et al., 2011). Another perspective to consider is the time horizon for the strategy. ...
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PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: The review aims to develop an understanding of the definition of 'strategy' to create an alignment of its use in business and public policy settings. There is no commonly accepted definition of strategy, it has widely different definitions in a range of settings, whether in business, government, sports, or civic society DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: A review of the literature was conducted from an exploratory perspective to identify academic articles and other publications that provide the most relevant content and research on strategy. The literature that was selected contained a substantive perspective on strategy, and covered any of the four different levels of strategy: grand strategy, corporate strategy, business strategy, and functional strategy FINDINGS: The literature review shows that there are multiple definitions of strategy in relation to its use in business and public policy settings. There is also a lack of studies that position grand strategy with the three other levels of strategy RECOMMENDATIONS/VALUE: This review contributes to the body of knowledge by (i) providing a theoretical framework to assist organisations in business and various public policy settings to develop and define their strategies; (ii) assisting in creating an alignment in business and public policy settings in the use of the term 'strategy'; and (iii) providing a theoretical positioning of grand strategy as it relates to the other levels of strategy such as corporate strategy, business strategy, and functional strategy MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: The review assists in the process of standardising the use of the term 'strategy' in business and public policy settings, as well as positioning grand strategy as it relates to the other levels of strategy such as corporate strategy, business strategy and functional strategy JEL CLASSIFICATION: M2; O; P
... Further, among the top five commonly identified value components, four of them are from the above dimension. On looking at the facts, we can say that the listed SMEs are trying to pursue existing and potential customers to count on them to do business (Cady et al., 2011;Mittal and Sridhar, 2021). Additionally, these SMEs are also making efforts to have a good impression on stakeholders by highlighting their 'responsibility or accountability', 'honesty or integrity', 'ethics' and 'transparency' which is why the 'commitment to integrity' dimension is ranking second in the list. ...
... Based on that, companies enumerate and explain their values, in other words, some intangible ideas that they use to positively influence employees and help them achieve the company's goals (Sheehan & Isaac, 2014). The mission refers to the most important goals pursued by the company in the midterm (Cady et al., 2011). Concerning the vision, this concept defines the company's long-term objectives and constitutes a true motivational element for every employee (Singal & Jain, 2013). ...
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Cancer hospitals enforce different initiatives to accelerate digital transformation, such as mobile health or artificial intelligence. Nevertheless, some health professionals are not willing to adopt these technologies. In order to change some employees’ perspectives, these hospitals resort to social media platforms. This paper aims to evaluate how the worlds’ best cancer hospitals manage social media platforms, as well as their corporate website, with the aim of disseminating brand-related content and reinforce their reputation. Therefore, we reviewed literature on cancer hospitals’ corporate communication strategies, brand, social media platforms and online patient communities. We then resorted to 48 quantitative indicators to analyze how the 200 best cancer hospitals in the world managed Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as their corporate website, for branding purposes. In order to identify the 200 best hospitals, we explored the World’s Best Specialized Hospitals 2021, an annual ranking published by Newsweek and Statista. The 48 indicators covered different elements concerning the hospitals’ identity and communication activities, as well as patient engagement on social media platforms. Our quantitative analysis proved that most cancer hospitals had a corporate website (70.5%) as well as a profile on Facebook (74%), Twitter (74.5%) and YouTube (67.5%). Nevertheless, most of them did not respect the 48 key performance indicators. Finally, we proposed three main conclusions: a) cancer hospitals should establish a Corporate Communication Department employing different experts in communication, health and big data; b) they should promote an integrated corporate communication approach; and c) they should implement brand ambassador programmes.
... Further, among the top five commonly identified value components, four of them are from the above dimension. On looking at the facts, we can say that the listed SMEs are trying to pursue existing and potential customers to count on them to do business (Cady et al., 2011;Mittal and Sridhar, 2021). Additionally, these SMEs are also making efforts to have a good impression on stakeholders by highlighting their 'responsibility or accountability', 'honesty or integrity', 'ethics' and 'transparency' which is why the 'commitment to integrity' dimension is ranking second in the list. ...
We often see large organisations place a 'value statement' to express their principles, ethical codes, and beliefs to various stakeholders. Strategic scholars often advise formulating such statements for building trust and confidence. Do small business organisations also prepare value statements? Do they make it available publically? What set of values do they commonly include? What is their focus? How many core values do we generally see in such a statement? The study is about searching for answers to those unaddressed questions previously in the given context. In this study, we looked at the value statements of 39 BSE listed SMEs. We dissected the value statements using the content analysis technique and descriptive results. We also discussed their theoretical and managerial implications and future directions.
... For years, scholars have published about the difference among corporate mission, vision and values (Cady et al., 2011;Gurley et al., 2015;Leggat and Holmes, 2015). Over a decade ago, scholars stated, "More and more research demonstrates the importance of vision, mission, and core values statements for successful companies. ...
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Purpose Purpose statements persuade stakeholders of companies' reasons for being. The goal of this study was to analyze how purpose-driven companies craft their purpose, mission and vision statements and whether and how purpose statements differ from mission and vision statements. Design/methodology/approach This quantitative content analysis explored the brand personality traits, mission statement components and corporate ethos appeals that purpose-driven companies included in their purpose, mission and vision statements. Findings Results provide implications for corporate leaders and communicators who write these statements as well as theoretical implications related to brand personality, rhetorical theory and corporate ethos. Practical implications This research provides practical implications for corporate leaders and communication professionals about how to craft these statements, what components they might include and the potential benefits and downfalls of not clearly differentiating among purpose, mission and vision statements. Originality/value While several studies have compared differences between mission and vision statements, there is a lack of academic literature on how companies craft purpose statements. This study added to this body of knowledge on corporate communication.
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Cancer patients’ associations have become valid public health players because they help patients to face this disease from physical, emotional and social perspectives. Some of these associations resort to social media platforms not only to improve their relationships with patients, but also to promote their own brand. This paper seeks to understand how Spanish cancer patients’ associations manage their social media platforms to promote their brand. To do that, we conducted a literature review about health communication; we considered 48 indicators to analyze how 107 associations belonging to the Spanish Group of Cancer Patients (Gepac) managed Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and their corporate website for branding initiatives; and we proposed a communication model for branding cancer patients’ associations on these platforms (MedPac Model). We concluded that Spanish cancer patients’ associations prioritize medical information but not brand-related elements, they lack the economic and human resources to produce a quality content, and they have not yet implemented a true corporate communication approach.
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Governance within the growing number of multiorganizational international nongovernmental organization (INGO) families in the humanitarian sector is challenging. Ideas are evolving about what the objectives of humanitarian INGOs should be, what the most appropriate means of achieving these objectives are, and how best to demonstrate effectiveness and integrity to others. Within this context, scholars observe that choices in governance approaches are driven largely by internal politics within the bounds of legitimacy, leading some to refer to INGOs as principled‐instrumentalists. However, we know little about the principles bounding these instrumental choices. Drawing from an institutional logics perspective, this paper compares the multiorganizational governance arrangements of 40 humanitarian INGO families with the values they espouse in their statements of values, principles, or beliefs. The idea being that these statements of values can serve as a window into the logics guiding organizational decision‐making and provide the basis for how power is enacted and strategies chosen within these social settings. These findings have the potential to help leaders of multisite nonprofits make sense of the ways changing values, beliefs, and logics are prompting their organizations to reconsider how they balance inherent management tensions.
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This paper is based on a case study of an Indo-American joint venture in the satellite- based communication services. The objective of the study is to explore why an organization fails to elicit emotional commitment for its espoused mission statements which are viewed as critical to the long-term interests and survival of the organization. It is a qualitative study based on data gathered primarily through open-ended ethnographic interviews and non-participative observation. The study briefly enumerates the process of developing an effective mission statement. It also explores the prevailing organizational culture to find out how employees identify themselves with the espoused organizational mission by exploring their experiences in the organization through one-to-one interviews. The organization has a leader (Chairman and Managing Director) who has been inspiring, intellectually stimulating, and considerate. He has explicitly shown his personal commitment to the espoused organizational values, beliefs, and missions. His leadership style comes close to what is known as charismatic leader. Organizational members adore him. It seems that he has become a ‘cult figure’ rather than a leader for the organizational members. In spite of all these, the study found that he has failed to elicit emotional commitment of the employees. It could be because of inadequate efforts in translating the espoused values into organizational practices and systems or because of insufficient awareness or appreciation of the values desired by the organizational members. The study reveals that: There are gaps among the ‘espoused’ (by the top management of the organization), ‘prevailing’ (what is actually being practised), and ‘desired’ (what is preferred by the organizational members) organizational culture. Though the organization has developed vision, mission, values, and beliefs, organizational members are not emotionally committed to these. The weak emotional commitment could be because of (a) non-involvement of middle and junior level employees in the mission development process; (b) lack of or minimal involvement of senior executives in disseminating the espoused organizational missions throughout the organization; (c) actual organizational practices not always following the espoused ones; and (d) values desired by the employees being neither espoused nor followed. On the basis of these findings, the authors suggest that: Emotional commitment develops within organizational members when the espoused organizational values and practices match with their desired ones. Organizational values and practices as prescribed by the top management of the organization should match the socio-cultural values of the society in which the organization is located. A leader should do the following for eliciting emotional commitment of the employees for the espoused mission statement: (a) involve all the stakeholders including the employees in the mission development process; (b) develop a highly cohesive top management team, who should live by espoused organizational values; and (c) implement earnestly what they espouse in public for ensuring credibility.
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Chief executives in one national and three regional samples participated in a study of the content and structure of their organizational visions. Executives clustered in three groups distinguished by differing orientations to derived factors. Cluster membership was found to be related to the rapidity of firm change, the amount of control the executives exercised over firms, and other variables. Vision showed a multifaceted structure, with factors for vision formulation, implementation, and innovative realism being most prominent. No differences in vision were found with respect to region or firm size, but the responses of executives differed from those obtained in an earlier study of business school deans.
Medtronic Inc., the world's largest therapeutic medical technology company, is a prosperous organization. The company's 1994 net earnings reached a record $232.4 million on net sales of $1.39 billion. The company was ranked 300 on Fortune magazine's list of the 500 largest corporations last year, and was ranked 103 among 1,000 companies on its 'market value- added list,' based on its success in using capital to build shareholder value. But it's not the company's sales of pacemakers, tachyarrhythmia devices and balloon catheters that set it apart from many of its high- performing peers; it's the unique philosophy behind its achievements. The company's success, says CEO Bill George, is based firmly on rock-solid, mission-driven values that are nonnegotiable and universal. Unlike most CEO's of large for-profit corporations, he's not at all shy about discussing spiritual values, and has publicly spoken about 'the soul of the corporation.' To him, there's no contradiction between extraordinary profitability and a values-driven corporate culture; indeed, in his view, the two go hand in hand. To find out what makes him-and Medtronic-tick, Sue McKibbin, Ph.D., of the Hospital Research and Educational Trust of the AHA, interviewed George, who will be a speaker at the AHA's annual convention in San Francisco in August.
The article presents an analysis of corporate mission statements in terms of sensemaking theory. There is said to be a dearth of evidence that mission statements, although popular, are actually functional management tools. Attempts to create shared meaning by describing an organization's values and purpose are termed sensegiving or sensemaking. The value of such communication for stakeholders or employees is discussed. An analysis of data drawn from Flemish health-care organizations is presented, and it is noted that the management groups studied were more invested in mission statements than the non-management groups.
Mission Statements are an increasingly important component for accreditation of universities and colleges of business. Thus, understanding similarities and differences in the content of mission statements of business schools is especially timely. To provide insights concerning the use of missions in colleges of business, we analyzed the content of mission statements from 408 AACSB schools and explored relations between mission content and measures of business school characteristics, including performance. Overall, there was considerable variance in the content of organizational missions. Using a previously established framework to analyze mission content, we found business school missions generally lacked comprehensiveness. Relying on a quasi-balanced scorecard approach, we found differences in business school performance were related to mission content. Last, we were able to detect distinctions among configurations of business schools in the use of mission statement components and performance. Overall, this study provides an in-depth look at the status of mission statements among business schools at a time when their use has become critical to accountability, assessment, and accreditation.
This paper examines the relationship between mission statements and firm performance using a sample of 136 large Canadian organizations. Previous writings suggest that mission statements are essential for superior organizational performance results. However, there is little empirical evidence to support this claim. The data from the present study demonstrate that mission statements and some of their specific characteristics are selectively associated with higher levels of organizaational performance. The paper concludes with several propositions to guide future research.
This article discusses a comprehensive study of the mission statements of Fortune 1000 higher-performing and lower-performing firms to assess the current state of the mission statement. After content analysis of these firms' mission statements, the components included for these two groups of firms were compared. The higher-performing firms included eight of the nine recommended components more often than did the lower-performing firms, and the differences were significant for three of those components. Also, using textual analysis methods, this study identified strategies employed by these firms to create a strong identity—or internal ethos—and image—or external ethos. The two groups used somewhat similar strategies for building corporate identities and images but differed in the values they emphasized and the goodwill recipients they targeted.