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How readable are mission statements? An exploratory study

Setayesh Sattari (Industrial Marketing and e‐Commerce Research Group, Lulea University of Technology, Lulea, Sweden)
Leyland F. Pitt (Segal Graduate School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)
Albert Caruana (Department of Communication, University of Malta, Msida, Malta)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Publication date: 11 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

Mission statements are fairly ubiquitous, particularly among large organizations. However, if they are to have a chance of achieving the desired positive outcomes, they must first be readable and comprehensible to the targeted stakeholders. The purpose of this paper is to investigate this issue, to answer the question of whether the mission statements of large companies are readable or not.

Design/methodology/approach

Content analysis and appropriate scores were employed to investigate the readability of the mission statements collected from a random sample of 100 firms in the Fortune 500 annual rankings.

Findings

The results indicate that on average, the mission statements of the studied companies are not that readable, and that in the case of many of them, the mission statements assume the readings skills of a university graduate.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this paper suggest that if the target audience of a mission statement is broad, and includes stakeholders such as customers and lower level employees, then firms would do well to test the readability of their mission statements, and revise them where necessary. Mission statements are not the only tools that organizations use to communicate with stakeholder. This encourages future research on readability analysis of other communication tools in firms. A larger sample of companies and other approaches to measure readability can be included in future research.

Originality/value

This paper adds to the related literature, as the level of readability of mission statements has received limited attention in the past.

Keywords

Citation

Sattari, S., Pitt, L.F. and Caruana, A. (2011), "How readable are mission statements? An exploratory study", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 282-292. https://doi.org/10.1108/13563281111186931

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited