Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

An International Mission Statement Comparsion: United States, France, Germany, Japan, and China

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

An International Mission Statement Comparsion: United States, France, Germany, Japan, and China

Article excerpt


Mission statements continue to be the foremost organizational communication device to inform all stakeholders of whom and what are important to the company. This paper is an extension of the authors' research over the past ten years concerning the content of United States mission statements compared with those of other countries around the world. Mission statement content was analyzed from two points of view. First, the stakeholders who the firm chose to include in the mission were studied. Second, the identified goals and objectives of the firm were analyzed. The first portion of this paper reviews the changes in United States mission statements over the last ten years. Significant trends are apparent in both identified stakeholders and goals and objectives, since mission statements must be constantly revised and improved over time as the firm and its environment change. The results of the 2011 mission statement review are compared with earlier studies by the authors in 2001, 2008 and 2010.

This paper extends the authors' research by including mission statements from four non-English speaking countries. The largest twenty-five companies (as ranked by Forbes) in France, Germany, Japan, and China were compared to the largest firms in the United States. These 125 mission statements are included in the appendix of this paper. A comparison of these five countries' mission statements provided some interesting similarities and differences by country involving both the stakeholders and goals or objectives identified in the statements. These items are discussed in the final portion of this paper.


Since the 1970s, mission statements have been the organizational communication that best describes what the firm is about to all stakeholders. According to Drucker, the mission statement is the "foundation for priorities, strategies, plans, and work assignments" (Drucker, 1974). According to Peter Drucker, it is the mission statement that distinguishes one organization from another. It also provides the firm's "reason for being" that is communicated to all interested stakeholders. In addition, Drucker states that a mission statement is essential to the formation of the company's objectives and strategies.

Mission statements are, typically, fairly short containing only one or two paragraphs. Mission statements include all of the central characteristics of the company including the firm's purpose, unique qualities, values, critical stakeholders, and basic goals/objectives. Mission statements have been called creed statements, statements of philosophy, statement of beliefs, and statements of business purposes (David, 2005) David states that these statements should reveal both what a firm wants to be as well as whom it wants to serve. Therefore, the stakeholders named and the goals and objectives identified are analyzed in this paper by the authors.

David also states that the firm's "reason for being" should be clearly stated in a firm's mission statement (David, 2009). He argues that a well written mission statement should provide important information such as the products and services offered by the firm, the primary target markets served, and the firm's concern for growth, efficiency, employees, stockholders, the environment, and long-term profitability. David has identified nine essential components of a well written mission statement. These include a mention of customers, products or services, markets, technology, concern for survival, growth, and profitability, philosophy, self-concept, concern for public image, and concern for employees (David, 2005). From the authors' experience, there are very few mission statements that include all of these items. Many of the mission statements included in the appendix of this paper contain three or fewer of these areas.

Many other authors have offered similar views on the purpose of a mission statement. Annie McKee feels that missions must describe what an organization is, what it does, and what it stands for (McKee, 2012). …

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