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Mission, purpose, and ambition: redefining the mission statement

Azaddin Salem Khalifa (Department of Management, Marketing, and Public Administration, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 3 August 2012



The purpose of this paper is to argue for the need to redefine a mission statement, to develop a clearer definition and show its advantages and limitations.


The paper shows the literature's lack of agreement on the definition of the mission statement and whether it should be defined as a stand‐alone statement or as a broader model. It then demonstrates the discrepancy between these definitions and the actual mission statements of exemplary organizations. This is followed by proposing a new definition of a mission, demonstrating how it is rooted in good practice, and presenting its benefits and limitations.


There are found to be widely varied definitions and models of the mission statement. These are typically complex (composed of many parts) and are not reflected in the mission statements of many exemplary organizations. The need is clear for a more focused definition.

Research limitations/implications

The basic argument is mainly built on conceptual discussions and unsystematic evidence. Therefore, there is a need for more empirical studies to substantiate that argument. The paper discusses the research implications of the proposed definition.

Practical implications

The proposed definition of the mission statement may prove helpful both conceptually and practically. This definition focuses the attention of practitioners on purpose and commitment independent from other related concepts. The paper shows the impact of the proposed definition on the process, participants, and outcome of developing a mission statement.


The paper offers a focused definition of mission statement and shows its relevance to both theory and practice.



Salem Khalifa, A. (2012), "Mission, purpose, and ambition: redefining the mission statement", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 236-251.



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