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Academic Leadership Journal

Abstract

The actual purpose of mission statements has been subject to much debate in the academic literature. Some authors (e.g. Wright, 2002) argue that the mission statement is primarily used as a ‘public relations statement,’ and therefore mission statements do not reflect reality. However, authors with a less cynical view to mission statements claim that mission statements are useful tools for internal purposes, such as the development of company strategy, providing leadership, and performance evaluation (e.g. Drucker, 1977; Klemm et al., 1991). For example, Drucker stressed the strategic importance of the company mission (Drucker, 1977, p. 66): “Only a clear definition of the mission and purpose of the business makes possible clear and realistic business objectives. It is the foundation for priorities, strategies, plans, and work assignments.” Others have stressed the importance of mission statements for external communication purposes, for example to influence the perceptions of stakeholders (e.g. Campbell, 1997; Bartkus et al., 2000). This study through a content analysis tries to suggest that mission statements may be written to illustrate organizational objectives and values consistent with key stakeholders rather than to reveal organizational distinctiveness (Ashforth & Gibbs, 1990; Wright, 2002; Campbell et al. 2001; Peyrefitte & David 2006). This study along side of other studies may help to explain why some mission statements fail to provide direction and specificity (Bart, 1997; Leuthesser & Kohli, 1997), and why there have been few direct associations between mission content and performance (Bart, Bontis, & Taggar, 2001).

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