Sex, Lies and Mission Statements

10 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2006

See all articles by Christopher K. Bart

Christopher K. Bart

Corporate Missions Inc. + Caribbean Institute of Directors


Mission statements abound. One often sees them gracing the walls and halls of the world's leading corporations. Boston-based Bain & Company recently reported that of the 400 firms it surveyed, nine out of ten had used a mission statement some time in the last five years-thus making it the most popular management tool deployed in recent decades.

The reason for such popularity is that mission statements s is usually considered the cornerstone of every company's strategy formulation exercise. Most commentaries on mission statemements imply that superior performance results follow shortly after inception. Little evidence exists, however, that proves their true value. Most studies have tended to focus almost exclusively-even obsessively-on their content. None has attempted to compare prescription with practice and only a few have tried to link findings about mission statements to any measures of performance or satisfaction.

As a result, it is currently unknown how mission statements are actually being used (relative to what the experts are saying), how satisfied companies are with them, or how useful they are to an organization's existence. In other words, do they "make a differnce" in terms of performance? These questions form the basis of a major ongoing research project, and this article presents some of the answers that have emerged.

Suggested Citation

Bart, Christopher K., Sex, Lies and Mission Statements. Business Horizons, pp. 9-18, November-December 1997, Available at SSRN:

Christopher K. Bart (Contact Author)

Corporate Missions Inc. + Caribbean Institute of Directors ( email )

30 Grand Trunk Crescent
Suite 3512
Toronto, Ontario M5J3A4
9055156399 (Phone)

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