Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

Mission Statement and Performance: An Evidence of "Coming of Age"

Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

Mission Statement and Performance: An Evidence of "Coming of Age"

Article excerpt


(Empirical Study)

We elaborate on the role of mission statements (MS, MSs) in shaping mechanisms of organizational attributes intended to enhance performance. We argue that in the process of institutionalizing MSs, Israeli companies "come of age" and realize that such an endeavor constitutes an organizational asset sustaining adequate integration of planning, operation and culture, and eventually improves a firm's performance. Firms with MSs feature higher performance and firms that include key MS constructs or have a high as opposed to low MS content are characterized by higher performance. Bearing on the past empirical studies and theoretical treatises, we advance suggestions for more elaborate research designs.


An organizational mission is a broadly defined statement of purpose that specifies, "who the organization is and what it does" (Levin, 2000, p. 93). As such, mission statements (henceforth MSs) aim at providing organizations with a strategic direction and a unique sense of enduring purpose. Consequently, a MS focuses on describing preferable business domains and potential value to stakeholders aiming at distinguishing an organization from others of its type (Bart, 2001).

Although realistic in nature, a MS is not merely factual and descriptive. It is inspirational and poses ambitious challenges to those striving to implement it. It seems likely that this inspirational aspect is a reason for the prevailing tendency to confuse it with the concept of "vision", and perceive the two as analogous (Levin, 2000).

A MS serves as an organizational artifact embodying mechanisms designed to transfer organizational vision into a concrete, long-term plan (Kotter, 1996; Neubauer & Lank, 1998). Whereas vision is viewed as the "vehicle of communicating strategy and managing the culture" (Lipton, 1996, 92), specifying the values and behavior perceived by the organization as desirable for achieving its goals, MSs serve as the vision's "implementing arm". Thus, MSs guide managerial practices and techniques and provide a behavioral, normative and structural roadmap as well as a context for managerial decisions regarding resource allocation (Hitt & Ireland 1992; Larwood et al, 95). Furthermore, a MS assists in identifying a clear path for the organization's strategic direction in volatile, turbulent and uncertain environmental circumstances (Collins & Porras, 1991).

In sum, a MS defines the enduring basic tenets of the organization's modus operandi as well as its values, norms, behavior and cognitions. A wellarticulated MS is expected to simplify and actively interpret the general organizational vision and provide a concrete and accurate expression of this vision.

Students of organizational MSs assume that their presence reflect promising strategic planning that coherently defines a firm's strategic direction. For example, MSs detailing resource allocation, strengthening legitimacy and reinforcing shared expectations and value seem to be conducive for delineating effective strategic direction and shared culture and identity (Desmidt & Heene, 2003).

Several studies have investigated a variety of relationships between MSs and performance (e.g., Bart, 2001; Bart & Baetz 1998; Bart, Bontis & Taggar, 2001; Jagersma, 2007). Largely, these studies have shown that an adequate MS include "proper rationale, contain sound content, have organizational alignment and bring about sufficient behavioral change in the desired direction" and thus would be positively correlated with satisfactory performance (Bart, Bonn's & Taggar, 2001, 32). Thus, the main consistency between performance and MS indicates the role of the latter in shaping employees' behaviors and shared meaning. Consequently, MSs seem to be conducive to organizational performance in terms of the relationship between the organization's constituency behavior and values that enhance organizational capabilities required to implement strategic programs (Sidhu, 2003). …

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