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Mission and reality and why not?

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The general question considered in this paper is do mission statements reflect reality, and if not why not? To answer these questions, 356 questionnaires were personally administered to middle and senior managers in six different geographic regions including the UK, Scandinavia, South Africa, Ghana, Singapore and New Zealand. The results from each region were remarkably similar. Overall, it was found that 82 per cent of the organisations surveyed had a mission statement, and 91 per cent of these mission statements had a customer focus. The startling finding was that only in 40 per cent of cases did managers believe that their mission reflects reality. They also claim that, when making operational decisions, the need to meet expense budgets and to achieve balance sheet (position statement) ratios of return on asset/investment are in 50 per cent of the cases more important than meeting the objective of customer service. The reasons why published missions do not reflect reality were found to be fourfold: (1) missions issued as mere public relations statements; (2) organisations not knowing and not genuinely making an effort to find out what customers want; (3) a lack of necessary resources; and (4) inappropriate personnel appraisal systems. Having established that customer service is only the first objective for 50 per cent of operational decision making, and that customer service is the focus for most mission statements (91 per cent), this paper then considers why there is a discrepancy between what mission statements say and what actually happens.
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Keywords: appraisal criteria; change management; customer satisfaction; mission statements; objectives; resource utilisation

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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