Corporate Purpose and Financial Performance
46 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2016 Last revised: 19 Nov 2017
Date Written: June 30, 2016
We construct a measure of corporate purpose within a sample of US companies based on approximately 500,000 survey responses of worker perceptions about their employers. We find that this measure of purpose is not related to financial performance. However, high purpose firms come in two forms: firms that are characterized by high camaraderie between workers and firms that are characterized by high clarity from management. We document that firms exhibiting both high purpose and clarity have systematically higher future accounting and stock market performance, even after controlling for current performance, and that this relation is driven by the perceptions of middle management and professional staff rather than senior executives, hourly or commissioned workers. Taken together, these results suggest that firms with employees that maintain strong beliefs in the meaning of their work experience better performance.
Keywords: corporate purpose, performance, employee engagement, work meaning
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