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p class="MsoBodyText3" style="text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0.5in 0pt 35.45pt;"> Given the criticality of vision to leadership, the paucity of research into vision is surprising. This paper reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on vision, highlighting early concepts of vision, vision definitions and components before proposing future research directions, including looking at what the components of an “effective” vision are, identifying the attributes and content of visions associated with desirable performance and ability to sustain it. </p
The Journal of Applied Business Research Second Quarter 2008 Volume 24, Number 2
What Do We Know About Vision?
Sooksan Kantabutra, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
Given the criticality of vision to leadership, the paucity of research into vision is surprising. This
paper reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on vision, highlighting early concepts of
vision, vision definitions and components before proposing future research directions, including
looking at what the components of an “effective” vision are, identifying the attributes and content
of visions associated with desirable performance and ability to sustain it.
ince the 1980s, the focus on leadership has shifted from traits and leader behaviors to the need for leaders
to articulate visions to their followers, particularly those in organizations undergoing major change (e.g.
Bass, 1990; Conger, 1991; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; Lucey, Bateman & Hines 2005). Shared vision also
is said to be fundamental to network organizations of the future (Avery, 2004). In the changing context, vision refers
to a cognitive image of a desired future state (Bennis & Nanus, 1985). It has alternated from being construed as a
faddish and trendy concept, to being viewed as a fundamental attribute of effective leadership and a basis of one‟s
power to lead (e.g. Kouzes & Posner, 1987; Zaccaro & Banks, 2004). Clearly, the importance of vision has been
emphasized by leadership scholars in both theoretical discussions (e.g. Maccoby, 1981; Peters, 1987; Slater, 1993)
and research (e.g. Kotter 1990; Larwood et al., 1995; Westley & Mintzberg, 1989). In particular, researchers (e.g.
Hamel & Prahalad, 1989) have asserted that an organization with a well-articulated vision can achieve sustained
competitive advantage over those organizations lacking such a vision. Time and time again, if a corporate leader is
successful, his or her vision is cited as the cause and lauded as the foundation of the leader‟s greatness (Humphreys,
Given the criticality of vision in the leadership literature, the purpose of this paper is to identify the current
knowledge about vision through a review of the theoretical and empirical literature. It starts with a theoretical
background on early concepts of vision, vision definitions, and then vision components, followed by relevant
empirical evidence. Finally, future research directions are proposed to advance our knowledge about vision.
In this section, early concepts of vision, the theoretical literature on vision definitions, attributes and
content is discussed, followed by a review section of the empirical literature.
Early Concepts of Vision
Since charisma and vision concepts are closely related in the literature, it is unavoidable to discuss both in
tracing back early concepts of vision. Charisma is a Greek word which means “divinely inspired gift” (Gove &
Webster, 1993). This “divinely-inspired gift” is, for example, an ability to perform miracles or predict future events.
The sociologist Max Weber (1947) used charisma as a term to describe a form of influence which is not based on
tradition or formal authority, but rather on follower perceptions that the leader is endowed with exceptional
qualities. Weber pointed out that charisma occurs during a social crisis in which a leader with exceptional personal
qualities emerges with a radical vision that provides a solution to the crisis and attracts followers who believe in the
vision and perceive the leader to be extraordinary.
While Plato‟s view of leadership was that a leader must be a man of power with a sincerely-truth-seeking
vision (Takala, 1998), his point of view comes close to that of Weber because the Weberian concept of charisma is
The Journal of Applied Business Research Second Quarter 2008 Volume 24, Number 2
that a charismatic leader is self-ordained and self-styled with a “mission” which claims that his action is his destiny
(Weber, 1947). Plato asserted that a leader must have charisma, the gift of grace, to be successful in his actions
(Takala, 1998). In Plato‟s view, charisma is so important that, without it, a leader is not able to do his job, to be the
head of a group. According to Plato, charisma is mystical and cannot be obtained by force of training (Takala,
1998). It is of divine origin.
“Charisma” and “vision” were long introduced in religious and political leadership. Espousing a vision
within religious institutions is common (Thomas & Thomas, 1959). Mohammed and Jesus Christ are two examples
of a religious leader who had a powerful “vision”. What is particularly important about them is the “vision” they
shared with their followers (Thomas & Thomas, 1959; Viney, 1999). Both offered people a new and radical belief
system. Jesus offered forgiveness of sins, life ever after, and everlasting love from his God (Thomas & Thomas,
1959). Mohammed‟s “vision” made the Arab God‟s standard-bearer on earth (Thomas & Thomas, 1959; Viney,
1999). The role of the devil was significantly reduced, and followers could look forward to a heaven, a very sensual
place. By communicating their visions, Jesus and Mohammed offered people hope, a sense of aspiration, a sense of
certainty, and a sense of being special (Thomas & Thomas, 1959). There is little wonder that their visions have been
immensely portable. Islam moved far beyond the Arab people and traveled to Asia (Thomas & Thomas, 1959;
Viney, 1999), while Christianity also traveled to many parts of the world (Adair, 1989; Thomas & Thomas, 1959;
Viney, 1999). Obviously, both Jesus‟s and Mohammed‟s visions inspire followers across many different cultures,
although they operated quite locally in their lifetimes.
In the political arena, the writer of Proverbs asserted several thousand years ago that vision is critical to
people‟s live (Stevenson, 1949; Wallis, 1994). Alexander the Great is a good example of a political leader with a
vision. With his vision of conquering the world, he showed the way ahead, held the Greek army of some 30,000 foot
soldiers together as a group, and encouraged individuals by example and word to keep going, notwithstanding the
hardships and dangers of travel (Adair, 1989). Later on, no one would dispute the transformational power of
visionary, political leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela (Adair,
1989). These political leaders have inspired their followers to work toward their visions.
Before the 1980s, vision was mostly a concept of researchers who studied political leadership, and the
leadership of social or religious movements. It was rarely considered within the leadership literature. Only in the
past couple of decades has vision been extensively discussed in the leadership discipline. In this context, the use of
vision has been widely exhorted as one of the main characteristics of “effective” leaders (e.g. Bass, 1985; Bryman,
1992; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; Humphreys, 2004). The leader creates a picture of a future world, which is
frequently referred to as a vision (e.g. Hamburger, 2000). He/she then inspires his/her followers by communicating a
positive and attractive image of the future, lifting people out of day-to-day existence and putting meaning into their
lives (Hamburger, 2000). Not only is vision an idea or image of a desirable future, but the right vision can also
actually jump-start the future by mobilizing people into action toward achieving it (Nanus, 1992). The motivational
value of a clearly-articulated vision comes mainly from the sense of broader purpose and meaning that the vision
provides. One observation here is that both the business vision concepts and those in the political and religious
leadership share the notion that leaders attempt to influence and engage their followers through his/her desired
future state, still to a large extent a top-down approach to leadership.
There is no doubt however that many leadership scholars have seen vision as important to leadership,
strategy implementation, and change (Collins & Porras, 1994; Doz & Prahalad, 1987; Humphreys, 2004; Hunt,
1991; Kotter, 1990; Robbins & Duncan, 1988; Sashkin, 1988). Although some managers dismiss visions as
irrelevant to organization performance (see Rynes, Colbert & Brown, 2002), businesses need a purpose (Avery,
2005). Supporting this view, Handy (2002) argues that the purpose of a business goes beyond making a profit, to
something “better”, a higher-level purpose. Bryman (1992) argues that charismatic leaders have a vision or a higher-
order purpose that they are capable of communicating to their followers in such as way as to ensure that followers
will enthusiastically commit themselves to it. The leader‟s role then is to empower people to carry out the vision,
and to structure the organization and its culture according to the vision. In trying to integrate the fragmented field of
Leadership, Avery (2004) names a paradigm of leadership “Visionary Leadership”, in which a leader espouses a
The Journal of Applied Business Research Second Quarter 2008 Volume 24, Number 2
vision to bring about superior performance outcomes through involving follower emotional commitment to the
vision. This underlines the important role that vision plays.
The early concepts of vision in both political and religious leadership suggest a new sense of direction, and
often involve a transformation of a group of followers, similar to the concepts of contemporary vision in the
leadership literature. In political, religious and business leadership, where the top-down approach to management
can be found, vision is developed and used by a leader to inspire followers to work toward a common goal.
Vision Definition
Despite its obvious importance, vision is still not defined in a generally agreed upon manner, which is
critical because empirical research on vision may be affected by the various ways in which vision has been defined.
Moreover, practitioners may also be confused as to which definition to adopt. Hunt (1991) and Sashkin (1988)
suggest that vision is a form of leadership in which a visionary leader transforms an organizational culture to bring
organization members to understand, accept and carry out his/her plan for the organization. Quite differently,
Pearson (1989) and Phillip and Hunt (1992) have viewed vision as one of the required tasks top managers perform.
Sashkin (1992) later on have viewed vision as a demonstration of leadership competencies. Considerable
disagreement also exists over whether terms like mission, goals, core values, strategy, and organizational philosophy
differ from vision. For example, much confusion exists between vision and mission. In an educational setting,
Hallinger and Heck (2002) pointed out that an organizational mission is indeed a vision shared by organizational
members. According to them, mission or shared vision exists when personal visions of a critical mass of people
cohere in a common sense of purpose within a community. Here, vision is a purpose. On the other hand, Levin
(2000) suggested that mission instead provides a statement of the purpose of an organization's existence, while
vision is a statement of direction. Endorsing Levin‟s view, O‟Brien and Meadows (2000) concurred that mission is a
statement of purpose, although others prefer to define mission as an often-inseparable component of a business'
vision. Lipton (1996), among others, defined vision as a combination of mission, strategy, and culture. In Lipton‟s
view, mission was defined as the purpose of an organization, strategy as a basic approach to achieving the mission,
and culture as the values of an organization that support purpose and strategy. Collins and Porras (1994) suggested
two different components of vision: “core identity” and “envisioned future.” To them, a good vision builds on the
interplay between these two complementary forces. The vision defines “what we stand for and why we exist” that
does not change (the core ideology) and sets forth “what we aspire to become, to achieve, to create” that will require
significant change and progress to attain (the envisioned future). Therefore, a vision here indicates both purpose and
Adopting a different view, other scholars stated that vision needs to come first in order to subsequently
drive development of mission and strategy (e.g. Hay & Williamson, 1997; Parikh & Neubauer, 1993; Zaccaro &
Banks, 2004). Therefore, vision, mission and strategy are three separable components. In addition to the confusion
between mission and vision, vision is also seen as closely related to organizational goals and strategy (e.g. Levin,
2000; Schoemaker, 1992).
Philosophy and vision are also frequently confounded, probably because both are inspirational and
idealistic. However, Levin (2000) argued that visions should go well beyond statements of philosophy by describing
those values and ideals in action, including a description of how these ideals are practiced, what that experience is
like for those affected, and a link between these preferred behaviors and successful performance. It seems that a
vision here paints a picture of how it looks like and feels like when a vision is attained. Therefore, as opposed to
many concise vision statements preferred by other scholars (e.g. Locke et al., 1991), Levin‟s notion of vision
provides for more lengthy vision statements.
From a view of New Science that means exciting breakthroughs especially in quantum physics that are
overturning centuries-old, Newtonian models of science, Wheatley (1999) suggested that vision is a field which
leaders can use as a formative influence. Creating a vision means creating a power, not a place; an influence, not a
destination. This field metaphor would help leaders to understand that they need congruency by matching visionary
messages with visionary behaviors. Leaders also would know that vision must permeate through an entire
The Journal of Applied Business Research Second Quarter 2008 Volume 24, Number 2
organization as a vital influence on the behavior of all stakeholders. Leaders would also feel genuinely threatened by
incongruous acts, because leaders would understand their disintegrating effects on what they dream to accomplish.
Their organization would become an organization of integrity, where their words would be translated into action.
Despite the definitional confusion, a comparison of the various definitions of vision suggests that they
share a similar set of characteristics (see Table 1). Essentially, scholars agree that vision is about the future, induces
people to act towards a common goal, provides a sense of direction, and is important for strategy and planning.
Regardless of these commonly shared characteristics resulting from attempts to define vision, there is little
agreement among academics as to what "vision" is. The situation does not appear very different among practitioners,
as they are equally confused with the titles of mission, vision, values, beliefs, principles and strategic intent/
direction (Baetz & Bart, 1996). Raynor (1998) suggested that these concepts are so tied together that to speak of one
was to involve them all. Van der Heijden (1996) introduced the term “Business Idea”, possibly as a way out, which
he defined as an organization‟s mental model of forces behind its current and future success.
Table-1: Commonly Shared Vision Characteristics
Taking a pragmatic approach to resolve the definitional confusion, Baum, Locke and Kirkpatrick (1998)
chose to define the term vision as each leader defines it, because it is the leader‟s actual vision that guides his/her
choices and actions. However, it appears that Baum et al. (1998) adopted the top-down approach to leadership in
defining a vision. Baum et al.‟s (1998) definition might not be practical in networked organizations of the future, in
which vision emerges from all organizational members (Avery, 2004). Indeed, the focus on vision has shifted from a
vision as proclaimed by a single central leader to a vision as proclaimed by all organizational members. Avery
(2004) provides a reason for this by suggesting that a vision developed by a leader may not be the most effective as
the business environment becomes more heterogeneous, highly complicated and dynamic. In the past where a
business was locally defined and predictable, a vision from the traditional single leader was enough to provide a
“right” direction. In such a dynamic and unpredictable context, leadership will need to operate more through vision
and values permeating the culture (Avery, 2004), which will become or replace the single guiding vision (Drath,
1998). In this environment, each member of the organization shares the vision and values, being able to respond
effectively, innovatively and timely to environmental changes. Avery (2005) also asserts that leaders that espouse a
vision will be able to sustain their corporate performance in the long run.
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More appropriately dealing with the definitional issue and the changing context, Mumford and Strange
(2005) suggest that vision is ultimately a cognitive construction or specifically a mental model, a conceptual
representation used to both understand system operations and guide actions within the system. I agree with Mumford
and Strange‟s vision definition because a vision, defined as a mental model, can accommodate both the top-down
and bottom-up approaches to leadership.
Vision Attributes
Senge (1990) argues that two types of vision exist: positive and negative visions. According to Senge, a
positive vision emphasizes change and aspirations for growth, while a negative vision emphasizes continuing the
status quo, even under changing environments. Despite the diverging views on how to define a vision, many
leadership scholars appear to agree with Senge by providing different attributes seen to be necessary for a vision to
be “positive”. Among various opinions, Locke et al. (1991) view that an effective vision is inspiring, abstract, brief,
stable and motivating. On the other hand, Conger (1989) suggests that an effective vision is strategic and well-
communicated while Kouzes and Posner (1987) and Jacobs and Jaques (1990) assert that long-term and focus
should be included. Sashkin (1988) and Sims and Lorenzi (1992) proposed that effective visions are inspirational,
widely accepted, and integrated with visions of others. A large group of scholars also argues that an effective vision
should have clarity, because the degree of clarity or precision of the vision statement influences how well the vision
is understood and accepted (e.g. Jacobs & Jaques, 1990, Locke et al, 1991; Nanus, 1992; Sashkin, 1988; Sims &
Larenzi, 1992). Concurring with this view, Nanus (1992) suggested that effective visions should be clearly
understood and act to direct effort. Other scholars have posited that effective visions should be inspiring and
challenging to energize employees around a shared value system (Locke et al, 1991; Sashkin, 1988; Sims & Lorenzi,
Though many leadership theorists have postulated different attributes of vision, there are some commonly
shared attributes among them, as shown in Table 2, which includes definitions derived from Baum (1994), Baum et
al. (1998) and Locke et al. (1991) who are among a few scholars studying the commonly shared vision attributes.
Table-2: Vision Attributes
The Journal of Applied Business Research Second Quarter 2008 Volume 24, Number 2
Although vision is emphasized as a core issue in the prevailing vision-based leadership theories (Bass,
1990; Conger, 1989; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; Tichy & Divanna, 1986; Westley & Mintzberg, 1989), and many
characteristics of effective vision have been introduced, none of the prevailing theories has exhaustively explained
how each characteristic might create an impact on organizational performance. In his effort to develop a vision
theory to fill in the gap, Kantabutra (2003) asserted that the seven vision attributes mentioned above interact to
create a positive impact on overall organizational performance initially through follower satisfaction. A vision that is
too brief will not positively impact overall organizational performance unless it is clear to followers what needs to
be done, or it may not appear to challenge followers to do their best. A clear vision will not positively influence
follower satisfaction because it may be too lengthy, preventing a leader to communicate it massively and frequently.
It also may be too abstract, therefore possibly creating conflicts among groups with different specific purposes and
not allowing for individual creative interpretation among followers. A too specific vision makes it difficult to form
an effective group to carry out the vision. Moreover, abstractness reflects stability in the vision because it implies no
radical change over time. An unstable vision suggests to followers a serious lack of managerial integrity and
commitment to the vision, negatively affecting follower morale. A vision that is brief, clear, abstract, challenging
and stable will not draw follower commitment in working toward the vision unless the vision is also inspiring or
desirable. In addition, when a vision is not inspiring or desirable, it is unlikely to develop and nurture a shared
vision, which is critical to organizational performance. An inspiring vision that is clear, brief, abstract, challenging,
and stable will not be able to attract affective commitment from followers unless it offers a compelling view of a
better future. Without a desirable future picture, a leader is unlikely to be able to draw followers from where they
presently are to work toward the vision. Therefore, vision characterized by the seven vision attributes can improve
the vision‟s effectiveness.
Vision Content
Literature on vision content is sparse. Andrews, Boyne and Walker (2006) draw from their study of one
hundred and nineteen English local authorities to suggest that measures of strategy content must be included in valid
theoretical and empirical models of organizational performance in the public sector because strategy content impacts
organizational performance. Baum et al. (1998) argued that the content or core of a vision needs to be addressed
because it is important to organizational growth. In a healthcare context, Williams-Brinkley (1999) argued that the
focus of a healthcare vision should always be on patients, their families, and staff. In a public school setting,
Kantabutra (2005a) argued that vision content should contain reference to teacher and student satisfaction, student
achievement, and efficiency. Kantabutra (2005b) also argues that a vision should contain reference to corporate
sustainability for a corporation to succeed in the long run. To be specific, such vision content should contain
reference to moderation, reasonableness, the need for „self-immunity‟ mechanisms, knowledge and morality to be
able to sustain a business (Kantabutra, 2006).
A possible reason for the existence of many vision content proposals is that what should be included in
vision content depends on the types of business and competitive environments in which they operate. If there is
indeed common vision content across organizations, whether and how organizations can be developed, compete and
sustain their strategic advantage are in a serious doubt. Scholars appear to agree with this conclusion. For example,
Westley and Mintzberg (1989) suggest that the strategic content of a vision may focus on products, services,
markets, organizations, or even ideals, with this strategic component being the central image that drives the vision.
Moreover, Collins and Porras (1994) suggest that vision content need not be common across different visionary
organizations. This is consistent with Pearson's view (1989) that a successful vision takes into account industry,
customers, and the specific competitive environment in identifying an innovative competitive position in the
In conclusion, what should be included in vision content depends on how a business wants to position itself
strategically, given that vision is ultimately defined as a cognitive construction or mental model used to both
understand system operations and guide actions within the system (Mumford & Strange, 2005). This proposed
vision definition appears to gain support from Westley and Mintzberg (1989) who suggest that vision process and
content are blended together in accounts of visionary leadership. Though vision content and process, and visionary
leadership, are distinctly different, it is clear that these aspects relate to one another in some complex ways. In
The Journal of Applied Business Research Second Quarter 2008 Volume 24, Number 2
theory, an effective vision should also be brief, clear, abstract, future oriented, stable, challenging and desirable or
inspiring because these characteristics can enhance vision‟s effectiveness.
Overall, research has demonstrated significant contributions of visions to organizational effectiveness
(Zaccaro, 2001). Lack of vision also appears to be associated with failed attempts to manage organizational change
(e.g. Collins & Porras, 1994; Lucey, Bateman & Hines, 2005) and attention to vision was found to be a key strategy
employed by 90 leaders who enlisted others in a common vision (Bennis & Nanus, 1985). Visions offer a value-
based direction for the company and provide a rationale for strategic decision-making. While most of the previous
research into vision was conducted at the individual level, as opposed to the level of the business-unit or
organization-level, vision has been studied as a blend of charismatic leadership in a wide variety of samples and
industries, with generally positive findings between this kind of leadership and followers' performance, attitudes,
and perceptions.
Previous empirical studies range from laboratory subjects using students (e.g. Howell & Frost, 1989;
Kirkpatrick, 1992; Puffer, 1990), military leaders (e.g. Curphy, 1990; Yukl & Van Fleet, 1982), national leaders
(e.g. Bass, Avolio & Goodheim, 1987; House, Spangler & Woycke, 1991), corporate leaders (e.g. Baum et al., 1998;
Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Kantabutra, 2003), educational leaders and administrators (e.g. Roberts, 1985; Roberts &
Bradley, 1988; Sashkin 1988), to hospital leaders (e.g. Bryant, 1990; McDaniel & Wolf, 1992). In addition, no
published studies have reported a negative or non-significant relation between charismatic leadership and individual
performance, possibly because negative or non-significant findings are rarely published.
Not only is vision found to be associated with bringing about competitive performance, it is also found to
be critical to sustaining it. Avery (2005) discovered that vision is important to sustainable enterprises. It was found
that European sustainable enterprises adopted the long-term perspective in managing their enterprises. This long-
term perspective allows the organizations more time for a vision to be communicated and take effect. Another
possible explanation for the impact of vision on corporate sustainability is that espousing a vision provides a
cognitive map that underpins how resources are to be used and combined within the organization (Avery, 2004). To
that extent, the vision channels organizational competencies in the direction of the organization‟s goals, which takes
time. Avery (2005)‟s research also pointed out that although all sustainable enterprises in her study had a vision, not
all have articulated vision statements. For example, BMW did not have an explicit vision statement for many years.
Rather, the vision appeared to stem from the brand. The BMW brand drives employees to maintain the high quality
and excellence associated with it. This finding also supports the proposed vision definition of a cognitive
construction or mental model that guides organizational actions discussed above.
Research on vision itself has generally focused on four aspects: development, articulation, communication,
and implementation (e.g. Nanus, 1992; Quigley, 1993; Robbins & Duncan, 1988; Sashkin, 1992; Wall, Solum &
Sobol, 1992; Westley & Mintzberg, 1989). Little is known about what constitutes an effective vision. Baum et al.
(1998) were among the first who found positive relationships between vision attributes of brevity, challenge, future
orientation, aspiring, abstractness, clarity, stability and vision content, and organizational performance in
entrepreneurial firms. The researchers surveyed CEOs of architectural woodwork firms, and found that vision
attributes and vision content were directly related to venture growth, as measured by sales, profits, employment, and
net worth in these entrepreneurial firms. These vision attributes were strongly related to venture growth through
their effects on vision communication. Visions characterized by the attributes of brevity, clarity, abstractness,
challenge, future orientation, stability, and desirability or ability to inspire have also been found to indirectly relate
to customer satisfaction and directly relate to staff satisfaction in Australian apparel retail stores (Kantabutra, 2003).
Findings from the two studies appear to endorse Kantabutra (2003)‟s proposed theory of vision that the seven
attributes interact to improve vision‟s effectiveness.
Similarly, empirical evidence on vision content is scanty. Larwood et al. (1995) published the first large
sample empirical study of vision content. In this study, chief executives in one national and three regional samples
participated in a study of content and structure of their business visions. They were asked to describe their visions in
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one sentence and to evaluate their visions along twenty-six content dimensions. Vision content ratings appeared in
clusters found to relate to rapidity of firm change, amount of control the executives exercised over firms, and type of
industry. The study did not, however, associate vision content with performance, a critical missing piece. Later on,
Kirkpatrick and Locke (1996) found that vision statements that emphasized product quality were related to increased
trust, leader-follower goal congruence, and inspiration. In a recent study by Dvir, Kass and Shamir (2004), vision
formulation, content of social-oriented values, and assimilation were positively related to affective commitment to
the organization, and unrelated to continuance commitment among one hundred and eighty three high-tech
employees. This finding indicates the positive relationships of a balanced transcendental and realistic content of the
vision and a high level of “sharedness” in vision assimilation processes to affective organizational commitment.
This makes sense because people need to know where they need to head from the vision content before they agree
with the direction and commit to it.
In Australia, Kantabutra (2003) found that store manager visions containing reference to customer and staff
satisfaction were significantly correlated to customer and staff satisfaction in Australian apparel stores. Sales,
customer, employee and leadership were four frequently mentioned vision content elements in this study, which is
not surprising because all are strategically important to acquire or maintain a leadership position in the market.
Moreover, Rafferty and Griffin (2004), drawing upon their study of a large Australian public sector organization,
suggest that visions do not always create a positive impact on follower attitudes, and that one should distinguish
between “strong” and “weak” visions as well as vision content to see their effectiveness. This suggestion gains
support from Senge‟s (1990) view of negative and positive visions discussed earlier.
Given a wide range of what to be included in a vision in the theoretical literature, it is interesting to find
that some of the best visions were not brilliantly innovative and all too often had an almost mundane quality, usually
consisting of ideas that are already well-known (Kotter, 1999). This finding suggests that there may be a limitation
to effective vision content. In addition, the seven vision attributes and vision content are related in some
sophisticated ways. For example, for a vision to be challenging and inspiring, the vision‟s content must contain
challenging and inspiring references. Similarly, for a vision to be abstract, its content must be very broad so that it
could cover all organizational interests. When a vision suggests such a broad meaning, it often becomes very simple.
This might be an answer to why successful visions regularly had an almost mundane quality, usually consisting of
ideas that are already well-known (i.e. to be the world‟s leader, to be the best, to be the leading).
Another widely discussed assertion about vision is that vision must be shared between leader and followers
to bring about superior performance outcomes, which has supporting empirical evidence. Kantabutra and Avery
(2005) found that visions characterized by the attributes of brevity, clarity, stability, abstractness, future orientation,
challenge, desirability and ability to inspire, and containing customer and staff satisfaction imagery, when shared by
leader and followers, were correlated with enhanced organizational performance as measured by customer and staff
satisfaction. Interestingly, shared visions directly created a positive impact on overall organizational performance
through customer and staff satisfaction, taking into account manager efforts at empowerment and motivation, and
staff use of vision to guide daily operations. Indeed, shared vision is inherent in staff performance, therefore creating
an impact on customer satisfaction. More recently, Avery (2005) reported that there is plenty of evidence that shared
vision, values and corporate philosophy operating among sustainable enterprises in Europe. This evidence
underlines a role of vision in ensuring long-term organizational success.
In terms of realizing vision, Kantabutra (2003) found that visions characterized by the seven attributes of
brevity, clarity, stability, abstractness, future orientation, challenge, desirability and ability to inspire played a
significant role in realizing vision in Australian apparel retail stores. Using such vision, retail store managers could
improve the effectiveness of their vision communication and attempts to motivation, empowerment and
organizational alignment.
One mystery about vision is how people form viable visions. Among a very few researchers, Mumford and
Strange (2005) found that vision formation requires descriptive models, reflection, and abstraction of key goals
and/or key causes. Moreover, they also concluded that visioning involves a prescriptive model constructed through
reflection and abstraction, and that visioning and planning should be treated as distinct constructs.
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Supporting the theoretical literature, the empirical review reveals that vision is still critical to broader
organizational success and sustainability. However, there are few reported studies on the critical components of
effective visions and/or how such visions are formed. These few studies nevertheless indicated positive relationships
between vision attributes and content, and organizational performance, supporting the previously discussed
theoretical literature that “effective” visions are critical to organizational success. It also appears that the vision
attributes findings lend support to Kantabutra‟s (2003) proposed Vision theory.
The literature review suggests that vision has been critical to managing people to achieve a goal since the
antiquity. Although the concept of vision has its critics, the empirical review suggests that effective visions do make
a positive impact on performance outcomes in practice, directly and/or indirectly. Vision will continue to play a
critical role in improving and sustaining organizational performance, despite the trend that the approach to
leadership seems to shift from top-down to bottom-up. Given the definitional confusion and need to define vision for
researchers and practitioners, I agree with Mumford and Strange that vision is ultimately defined as a cognitive
construction or specifically a mental model, a conceptual representation used both to understand system operations
as well as guide actions within the system.
Our knowledge on what an effective vision looks like and thus how such vision is formed is still limited.
The literature suggests two components of vision: attributes and content. An attempt has been made to develop a
vision theory, proposing that effective visions are brief, clear, stable, challenging, future-oriented, desirable or
inspiring, and abstract. This proposed vision theory appears to have broad support from the empirical literature.
Similarly, our knowledge on the content of effective visions appears scanty. However, unlike vision attributes, there
may not be a standard for vision content since vision content is strategic, depending on the type of business and its
specific competitive environment.
Clearly, the literature suggests many areas for future vision research, including looking at what a vision is;
the components of an “effective” vision are, identifying the attributes and content of visions associated with
competitive performance. This is essentially a critical area for both academics and practitioners that we know so
little about. Accordingly, the following propositions are advanced for future research to further enhance our
understanding about vision.
Proposition 1: Visions that bring about desirable performance outcomes and ability to sustain them are cognitive
constructions or specifically mental models, conceptual representations used both to understand system operations
and guide actions within the system.
Proposition 2: Visions characterized by the seven vision attributes bring about better performance outcomes and
ability to sustain them than those not characterized by the seven vision attributes. The seven attributes interact to
create the results.
Proposition 3: Visions containing strategic references bring about better performance outcomes and ability to
sustain them than those not containing strategic references. These strategic references usually consist of ideas that
are already well known.
Propositions 4: Visions characterized by the seven vision attributes and containing strategic references bring about
better performance outcomes and ability to sustain them than those not characterized by the seven vision attributes
and containing strategic references. Both vision attributes and content interact to create such results.
The Journal of Applied Business Research Second Quarter 2008 Volume 24, Number 2
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... Öngörülen gelecek ise olmayı, başarmayı, yaratmayı arzuladığımız şeydir ve elde etmek için önemli bir değişim ve ilerleme gerektirir. Literatürde kabul görmüş ve sıklıkla kullanılan detaylı vizyon bileşenleri Kantabutra (2008)'nın çalışmasına aittir. Kantabutra (2008)'ın önerdiği etkili bir vizyon ifadesinde olması gereken bileşenlere Şekil 2'de yer verilmiştir. ...
... Literatürde kabul görmüş ve sıklıkla kullanılan detaylı vizyon bileşenleri Kantabutra (2008)'nın çalışmasına aittir. Kantabutra (2008)'ın önerdiği etkili bir vizyon ifadesinde olması gereken bileşenlere Şekil 2'de yer verilmiştir. ...
... Between 2002 and 2022, corporate sustainability was unmistakably the central theme of his work's core code. Kantabutra began his study by investigating how a company's culture shaped by its leader's vision might impact its long-term success (e.g., Kantabutra, 2008;Kantabutra, 2011a;Avery, 2002, 2007;Kantabutra and Rungruang, 2013;Kantabutra and Saratun, 2011). The vision-based leadership paradigm was widely believed to be the most effective means by which leaders could address the challenges of globalization and position their organizations for sustained success. ...
Full-text available
The relationship between organizational culture and corporate sustainability initiatives and practices, such as cleaner production, is widely recognized, yet little is known about an organizational culture conducive to sustainability. Cleaner production entails managing the physical aspects of production and transforming the organization's culture. However, the existing research primarily investigates a corporate culture that focuses on enhancing productivity. While research on sustainability-productive culture is scanty, it concentrates on the cultural level of artifacts of sustainability practices, leaving much unknown about the deeper cultural levels of conscious and unconscious assumptions and beliefs that constitute the essence of organizational culture. The present study aims at discovering cutting-edge knowledge on sustainability-productive organizational culture. It adapts the Integrated Systematic Literature Review framework to identify scholars from the Scopus database who have played a significant role in creating the knowledge base and their documents during the past 27 years. As a result, relevant descriptive statistics of the collective body of knowledge, two schools of thought, influential scholars, and methodological issues are derived from the literature. Two frameworks on sustainable cultural transformation and sustainability organizational culture are derived from the cutting-edge knowledge, as informed by the work of the recognized key scholars. These frameworks highlight the hitherto unacknowledged importance of a normative grounding in cultural assumptions and values, delivering cutting-edge knowledge in the field of sustainability organizational culture. Research, theoretical and managerial implications from the review are also discussed.
... Fourth, although the literature describes several aspects that should be considered and those that a vision "must have, " e.g., clarity, future orientation, challenge, conciseness, ability to inspire [56], and so forth, we do not know the extent to which the fulfillment of either individual aspects or constellations of these aspects of an organizational vision statement can induce OVI among hospital employees. Identifying such aspects could have practical implications for hospital leaders seeking to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their employees' OVI. ...
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Background The concept of organizational vision has been little explored in the health-care services research literature. To address this knowledge gap in the literature, the present study examines the factors that may promote organizational vision integration (OVI), which refers to the employees’ use of organizational vision as a guiding framework in their work. The roles of organizational commitment (OC), leadership autonomy support (LAS), and organizational culture in relation to hospital employees’ OVI are examined. Methods Hospital employees were surveyed. Partial least-squares structural equation modeling was performed using SmartPLS 3 software to test the proposed hypotheses statistically. A bootstrapping test was used to identify the mediating effects. Results The main findings show that: (i) OC is the most powerful factor in promoting employees’ OVI (β = 0.26), while organizational culture (represented by the concept of internal market-oriented culture) and LAS showed significantly less and almost equal impact (β = 0.16 and β = 0.15, respectively). In total, OC, organizational culture and LAS explain 25% of the variance in the concept of OVI. (ii) LAS and organizational culture both significantly contribute to employees’ OC (β = 0.35 and β = 0.29, respectively) and in total explain nearly 40% (R² = 0.38) of the variance in the concept of OC. (iii) The relationships between organizational culture, LAS, and OVI are mediated through OC, and (iv) LAS mediates the relationship between organizational culture and OVI, and that between organizational culture and OC. Conclusions To promote hospital employees’ OVI effectively, hospital managers should focus particularly on their employees’ OC. Specifically, they should strengthen their employees’ OC through building a strong employee-focused organizational culture and ensuring that leaders practice LAS. This contributes to promoting hospital employees’ OVI.
... The notion of vision statements firstly emerged in the scholarly literature of corporate management (see [17][18][19][20]; for an overview, see [21]). The concept spread to other spheres, including into the public policy domain where it is now widely used. ...
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Integrated maritime policies (IMPs) provide a comprehensive governance framework to support the sustainable use of the seas and oceans while ensuring a horizon of prosperity for the population of the surrounding coastal regions. This paper focuses on how IMP governance can be arranged to support more effective policy integration. We identify and discuss a number of key strategic and institutional issues which are expected to promote more effective policy integration in IMP development and implementation. First, vision statements of IMPs are scrutinised using the triple bottom line framework and by analysing the process of stakeholder involvement and related public disclosure. Second, we introduce the vision-down plans-up approach on stakeholder participation and management in IMP development to overcome the limitations of the widely used bottom-up and top-down approaches in policy formulation. Third, we analyse the tension between policy convergence and regional embeddedness in national IMPs. We argue that policy convergence does not and should not exclude regional embeddedness. Finally, we study IMP governance changes under the dual lens of time frame and institutional plasticity. The findings provide recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders on key strategic and institutional considerations which should enhance effective policy integration during the formulation and implementation of a national IMP.
... "Respect" emerged as an important factor of employee engagement, which refers to making an organization's values, vision and mission respectable in the eyes of employees to make them highly engaged. Our finding conformed with the findings of Kirkpatric (2017), Hacker and Brotherton (1998), Hamel and Prahalad (1994), Kantabutra (2008) and Boardman and Sundquist (2009) that affirm the relevance of vision statement in defining employees' commitment to the organization. Hacker and Brotherton (1998) felt that vision and mission in line with the sight of the individual can significantly influence their efforts towards organizational success. ...
Purpose The purpose of this study is to bring about an exhaustive measurement instrument of employee engagement and validate the same in Indian settings. Design/methodology/approach This descriptive and cross-sectional study initiates with reviewing the available literature in the field of employee engagement to identify factors affecting and the corresponding items defining them. Following the discussion with experts and industry professionals, an instrument was, thus, obtained to administer the primary data from employees working in public and private power companies in India. The study used Partial Least Square-Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM) 3 to demonstrate employee engagement as a first-order reflective and second-order formative construct. Thereafter, reliability and convergent validity were assessed to validate the instrument. Findings This paper conceptualized employee engagement as a multi-factor construct (nine in numbers). The factors are “Respect”, “Supervisor's support and recognition”, “Growth and development”, “Creative and challenging job”, “Job significance”, “Perceived self-worth”, “performance evaluation and recognition” and “Organizational bureaucracy”. These factors are exhaustive and collectively define employee engagement. Distortion or omission in any of these items may distort the nature of construct as well. Originality/value Previous studies have defined the concept of employee engagement as unidimensional and thus observe serious lacunas. This study identified employee engagement as a multi-factor construct that incorporates the exhaustive nature of the organizational setting. Not only this study adds value to the existing body of knowledge in the field of employee engagement but also specify the measurement model as a formative one concerning employee engagement.
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The purpose of this study attempts to clarify the relationship between institutionalization level of the family businesses with strategic management and human resources management practices. The study consists of five chapters. The first chapter includes; conceptual frame related to family businesses and original qualities of these businesses; in the second chapter institutionalization approaches and necessary steps for institutionalization of those family businesses are aimed to be ascertained. Chapter three is assigned to the concept of strategic management and depicts the human resource management practices. The last chapter includes research and findings of the research, conclusion and suggestions. In the research part of the study; data have been gathered through survey analysis from 398 family businesses in Erzurum, Erzincan and Bayburt and these data have been put into evaluation. Data gathered have been construed statistically in line with research structure to test hypothesis in parallel with the research itself. The results of analysis have indicated a significant positive relation between the institutionalization level of family businesses with strategic management and human resource management practices.
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Stratejik yönetim, çevresel belirsizlikler, krizler, rekabet üstünlükleri ve işletmenin gelişimine engel olabilecek buna benzer durumlar karşısında işletmelere uzun ömürlü olma, rekabet avantajı sağlama ve çalışan sürekliliği gibi önemli katkılar sağlamaktadır. Stratejik yönetimin önemli bir unsuru olan vizyon ifadesinin işletmenin amacına uygun olarak belirlenmesi ve işletmenin bütün paydaşlarının anlayabileceği bir yapı oluşturması da bir diğer önemli husustur. Bu noktada vizyon ifadesinin gerekliliklerinin yerine getirilmesi sayesinde işletmenin ihtiyaçlarını karşılaması beklenmektedir. Vizyon ifadesinin, işletmenin gelecekte hangi noktada olacağını ifade eden bir stratejik yönetim unsuru olmasından dolayı, işletmeler vizyon ifadesi belirlerken öngörülebilir bir gelecek hedefi ile ve bugünden geleceğe bir pencere açmak amacıyla çalışmalar yapmaktadırlar. Çalışmada Türkiye’deki hayat sigortası şirketlerinin internet siteleri incelenmiş ve vizyon ifadesine yer veren 19 firmanın vizyon ifadeleri gerek kelime sıklıkları gerekse literatürde vizyon ifadesinin barındırması gereken 7 bileşen yönüyle incelenmiştir. Yapılan analizler MAXQDA 2020 nitel analiz programı aracılığıyla gerçekleştirilmiştir. Elde edilen bulgulara göre vizyon ifadelerinde en sık kullanılan kelimeler, “şirket”, “sigorta” ve “emeklilik” olarak sıralanabilir. Ayrıca vizyon ifadelerinin hiçbirisinin 7 bileşenin hepsini içermediği en yüksek bileşen içeren 3 firmanın 5 bileşen içerdiği ve vizyon ifadelerinde en yüksek oranda yer alan bileşenin ise “idealistlik” bileşeni olduğu sonucuna ulaşılmıştır. Bu bulgulara göre işletmelerin geleceğe yönelik planlarının olduğu anlaşılmaktadır. Sonuç olarak hayat sigortası şirketlerinin vizyon ifadelerine yönelik bazı güncellemeler yapmaları gerektiği önerilmektedir.
Writing of business plans ensures performance of a business and contributes to enabling countries to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). The latter are intended, in part, to promote industrialization, and improved human living and working standards. This chapter identifies and analyses the importance of business plan for family-owned food processing small and medium enterprises (Fo-SMEs). It advocates for the establishment of an “integrated planning” strategy to link Fo-SMEs and government support system for business development. Business-planning forecasts industrial production based on consumers' demands. Integrated planning ensures sustainability of Fo-SMEs, farmers' economic growth, and consequent achievement of SDGs. Tanzania Fo-SMEs serve as a useful lesson for developing economies. Future studies should consider Fo-SMEs' succession planning framework.
In the early 19705, when Canon took its first halting steps in reprographics, the idea of a fledgling Japanese company challenging Xerox seemed impossible. Fifteen years later, it matched the U.S. giant in global unit market share. The basis for Canon's success? A different approach to strategy, one that emphasized an organization's resourcefulness above the resources it controlled. In this McKinsey Award-winning article, first published in 1989, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad explain that Western companies have wasted too much time and energy replicating the cost and quality advantages their global competitors already experience. Familiar concepts like strategic fit and competitive advantage can foster a static approach to competition, while familiar techniques like portfolio planning and competitor analysis lead to strategies that rivals can easily decode. The sum total is a pathology of surrender that leads many managers to abandon businesses instead of building them. Canon and other world-class competitors have taken a different approach to strategy: one of strategic intent. They begin with a goal that exceeds the company's present grasp and existing resources: "Beat Xerox"; "encircle Caterpillar." Then they rally the organization to close the gap by setting challenges that focus employees' efforts in the near to medium term: "Build a personal copier to sell for $1,000"; "cut product development time by 75%." Year after year, they emphasize competitive innovation - building a portfolio of competitive advantages; searching markets for "loose bricks" that rivals have left under-defended; changing the terms of competitive engagement to avoid playing by the leader's rules. The result is a global leadership position and an approach to competition that has reduced larger, stronger Western rivals to playing an endless game of catch-up.