Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Current Mission Statement Emphasis: Be Ethical and Go Global

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Current Mission Statement Emphasis: Be Ethical and Go Global

Article excerpt


Mission statements are a critically important piece of business communication from an organization to all of its stakeholders. They must be constantly revised and modified in response to changes within the organization and its environment. This paper examines current mission statements found on the 2008 Fortune 500 list of companies. In an attempt to maintain a reasonable length article, the authors have chosen to analyze the top 50 Fortune firms listed on the CNN Money website located at The results of this study are compared with an article published in the Academy of Managerial Communications Journal in 2001 by the lead author of this paper.

Given the current global economic conditions, the authors attempted to determine if such conditions affected the content of current mission statements. First, it appears that many organizations are emphasizing the significance of international or global operations in their mission statements. Today it is relatively easy for even a small firm to develop a webpage and market goods around the world. A second emphasis in current mission statements involves "going green." The authors' definition of "going green" includes the concepts of ethical behavior, being socially responsible, and protecting the environment. In addition to reviewing goals and objectives discussed in mission statements, the authors also analyze the stakeholders included in a typical 2008 mission statement.


Mission statements are vital communications used by corporations to define themselves to their various stakeholders including customers, employees, creditors, and stockholders. Mission statements can be as short as one sentence or expand to one or two paragraphs. These statements attempt to communicate the organization's values, purpose, identity, and primary business goals. Mission statements are often longer than a vision statement which provides a broader statement reflecting the future aspirations of the company.

Fred David argues that a mission statement is a declaration of an organization's "reason for being" (David, 2009). A clear mission statement is necessary for the firm to effectively establish objectives and formulate long-term strategies. David also states that every organization has a reason for being and any organization that fails to develop a comprehensive and inspiring mission statement loses the opportunity to present itself favorably to existing and potential stakeholders. According to David, a good mission statement reveals an organization's customers, products or services, markets, technology, concern for survival, growth, and profitability, philosophy, self-concept, concern for public image, and concern for employees. These factors, he believes, serve as a practical framework for evaluating and writing mission statements.

Peter Drucker believes that firms need to develop a mission statement that answers the questions 'What do we want to become?" and 'What is our business?" when the firm has been successful (Drucker, 1974). This proactive approach attempts to define how the firm can continue to excel and improve operations. Many authors feel that organizations develop mission and vision statements only when the company is in trouble (David, 2009). This reactive approach is far less effective and David feels that development of mission statements in times of crisis is a gamble that "characterizes irresponsible management."

Rebecca Leet believes that developing a mission statement is especially important for non-profit organizations and charities (Leet, 2008). Leet feels that just as strategic planning taught groups how to organize and focus their functions internally to achieve their missions, developing a strategic message teaches them how to organize and focus externally by recognizing who their supporters are and linking the organization's goals to what drives people to take the action it seeks. …

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