Do the Top U.S. Corporations Often Use the Same Words in Their Vision, Mission and Value Statements?

By Anderson, S. Eric; Jamison, Brad | Journal of Marketing and Management, May 2015 | Go to article overview

Do the Top U.S. Corporations Often Use the Same Words in Their Vision, Mission and Value Statements?


Anderson, S. Eric, Jamison, Brad, Journal of Marketing and Management


Introduction

It has been commonly joked that the reason so many corporate mission, vision and value statements sound the same is because they are the same. The purpose of this present study is to determine the degree to which the 100 largest corporations based on market capitalization share the same words in their mission, vision and values statements. The confluence of values as articulated by corporations and the evolving public perception of corporate responsibility is a quandary affecting the course of business and its public relations efforts in the ever-changing business environment. Most corporations have articulated in some form their values in a PR effort to assuage public perception of their responsibility to core values by which they operate and their sensitivity to issues of public importance. Do they actually reflect inherent meaning in the company, product, or business model or could values be merely words deployed as part of a PR strategy; a necessity in the current business environment? The new role PR has assumed is based on organizations getting a clear message out of what their values are and what they stand for (Seitel & Doorley, 2012).

Literature Review

Public opinion unquestionably is a strong force affecting how values are viewed and articulated in corporations. Normally, these are drawn from culture to delineate appropriate activities and goals for the organization and emerge through work or products that are associated with values, or from the organization's goals, management practices, or other participatory practices (Chen, Lune, & Queen, 2013). Values become cultural assets for both the organization and its management model. Internally they strengthen the members' sense of belonging. Externally they develop the company's image and sustainability strategies (Alvarado Muñoz & Monroy del Castillo, 2013). Often success factors for specific initiatives frequently point to support from culture and values in the organization, including the alignment of culture and values between individuals and departments, and the organization's mission, vision, and values (Arbab Kash, Spaulding, Johnson, & Gamm (2014). Ultimately, organizational values contribute back to the culture and success of organizations. Organizational cultures, training, and socialization tend to add to heterogeneity of value systems within organizations. (Graber & Kilpatrick, 2008).

Once identified, values become a driving force for change within the organization. Culture and values are critical success factors for implementing strategic change. Effective leaders who successfully implement change initiatives are concerned with building and communicating the right culture and values (Arbab Kash et al., 2014). As one study noted, those values need to start at the top as personal values of the executives (Maharaj, 2009). Possessing strong or inspiring values is increasingly considered to be a key quality of successful leaders (Graber & Kilpatrick, 2008). In addition to other common management practices, management by values is also an important factor contributing to enhanced organizational performance. In a study, leaders engaged staff members not only in developing core organizational values, but also to strategically use values in day-to-day management practice and embed those values into strategic and other planning processes (Bell-Laroche, MacLean, Thibault, & Wolfe, 2014).

Clearly articulating values help clarify another challenge confronting managers: the competing or conflicting informal values within a unit or the entire organization. Organizations often fail to reward members who uphold or enact the organization's values, which can lead to lack of motivation and lower commitment to the organization. Managers who develop values-based leadership learn to recognize their personal and professional values. This helps determine their personal expectations from the larger organization and understand what can be implemented within one's sphere of influence. …

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