Retail Mission Statements: Top 100 Global Retailers

By Anitsal, Ismet; Anitsal, M. Meral et al. | Academy of Strategic Management Journal, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Retail Mission Statements: Top 100 Global Retailers


Anitsal, Ismet, Anitsal, M. Meral, Girard, Tulay, Academy of Strategic Management Journal


INTRODUCTION

Organizational communication is vital for both internal and external publics (Leuthesser and Kohli 1997; King, Case and Premo 2010). Specifically, global retailers communicate with multiple stakeholders at multiple fronts. They use mission statements as an overall guide for their employees (associates) helping customers. In terms of customers (clients), they utilize mission statements as a way to build long lasting relationships. This is also true starting point for global retailers in terms of how they maximize shareholders' (investors) wealth and serve communities for their well being.

Many high-performing firms owe their performance to engraving their vision and mission statements in the hearts and minds of their people (Ahmad and Chopra 2004). A firm can try to influence its reputation positively and therefore position itself within its marketplace (Chun and Davies 2001; van Riel and Balmer 1997) by communicating its identity (Barnett, Jermier and Lafferty 2006) in its mission statement. Building corporate identity involves a management process of building corporate personality through corporate philosophy and values (Stuart 1999) and often included in the corporate web site of firms, accessible by all stakeholders (Chun 2004), to form their online brand personality. Therefore, mission and vision statements are important media for conveying these values and emphasizing uniqueness (Leuthesser and Kohli 1997; Yamauchi 2001).

Mission statements serve as an important strategic tool in forming an identity and guiding a direction for an organization (Falsey 1989; Campbell 1997; Leuthesser and Kohli 1997; Denton 2001; Mullane 2002; Williams 2008). In mission statements, organizations declare "the reason for being" (David 2009; King, Case and Premo 2010), define themselves as "who they are" and "what they do" (Falsey 1989), and broadly share their world views with multiple stakeholders as what they aspire to accomplish based on how they define their business (Drucker 1974; King, Case and Premo 2010). Sometimes organizations refer to such statements as mission statements; while other times, they title the same or similar statements under different names such as mission, corporate principles, company philosophy, core values, or credo (Williams 2008). Mission statements can be as short as a single sentence or as long as a page in the case of theme based statements. However, it should ideally be longer than a phrase and shorter than a two-page document (David and David 2003).

Green and Medlin (2003) find a significant positive relationship between the completeness and quality of organizations' mission statements and their financial performance. David and David (2003) indicate that according to a Business Week report, companies with well-crafted mission statements incurred thirty percent higher return on certain financial measures than companies that did not have well-crafted mission statements. They conclude that the overall lack of completeness in mission statements exists for companies in the computer, food and banking industries. In addition, Sattari, Pitt, and Caruana (2011) criticize that the mission statements of the one hundred Fortune 500 companies that they studied are not readable because they are written for an audience of a university graduate level.

Components of mission statements have been analyzed continuously from different perspectives in different contexts (Bart 1997; Bart and Baetz 1998; Bart and Hupfer 2004; Anitsal, Girard, and Anitsal 2012a). Pierce (1982) identifies eight components in mission statements: customers, products/services, markets, technology, concern for survival, growth and profitability, philosophy, self-concept, and concern for public image. Wheelen and Hunger (2000) develop nine criteria to ensure the quality of a mission statement: purpose, products/ services, competitive advantage, scope of operations, philosophy, vision, sense of shared expectations, public image, and emphasis on technology, creativity, and innovation. …

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