Setting objectives is a key part of the strategic planning process.

The objectives will be set by considering an organisation's mission statement, its key stakeholders, corporate governance and its attitudes towards ethics. The page looks at the concept of mission and mission statements.

Mission statements

Mission statements exist in order to establish the primary reason for an organisation's existence and to define core values. This should be the overriding objective from which all other objectives are set. A mission statement should consider all stakeholders of an organisation and aim to satisfy their needs


 Johnson, Scholes and Whittington refer to an organisation's mission as 'the most generalised type of objective (that) can be thought of as an expression of its raison d'etre'.

The mission indicates to both the world at large and to those making the strategic decisions, the broad ground rules that the organisation will adhere to when conducting its business.

Contents of a mission statement

A mission statement should contain the following:

  • purpose
  • strategy
  • policies and standards of behaviour
  • values.


  • mission statements should be short - typically half a page
  • note that mission statements can have a valuable role in setting ethical standards and organisational culture.


Why is the company in business? What is the organisation for?

Some organisations and companies do not attempt to reach a conclusion about the nature of their overall purpose. However, where companies do have an idea of their purpose, research by Campbell, Devine and Young shows that the companies fall into the following types.

  • Companies that just exist for the benefit of the shareholders. Their main purpose is to maximise shareholder wealth and all decisions are assessed against a benchmark of shareholder value.
  • Companies that believe that the satisfaction of shareholders is not the only reason for existence and believe it to be important to satisfy all stakeholders. In their mission they address how they are to satisfy the needs of customers, the community, the employees as well as the shareholders.


This component of the mission statement then addresses how it is going to achieve its purpose. This could involve a statement of industrial domain (where to compete) and the nature of competitive advantage sought.

Policies and standards of behaviour

Without policy and behaviour guidelines that help staff to make decisions on a day-to-day basis the strategy and purpose has little value.


Values are the feelings and moral principle that lie behind the company's culture.

Advantages and disadvantages of mission statements

The claimed advantages:

  • help resolve stakeholder conflict
  • set the direction of the organisation and so help formulate strategy
  • help communicate values and culture to employees
  • help the marketing process by communicating with customers.

The criticisms of mission statements:

  • often full of meaningless terms like 'the best', which give staff little idea of what to aim at
  • often written retrospectively to justify past actions
  • often ignored by managers
  • might simply be a public relations exercise.
Created at 10/12/2012 11:01 AM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Last modified at 9/11/2013 11:57 AM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London

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strategic analysis;Stakeholders;mission;mission statements

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