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What do mission statements reveal about the values of top universities in the world?

Kristijan Breznik (International School of Social and Business Studies, Celje, Slovenia)
Kris M.Y. Law (School of Engineering, Deakin University, Australia)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 8 July 2019

Issue publication date: 1 October 2019




Mission statements are perceived as effective strategic tools and foundations of an organization's objectives, driving the development of strategic plans to meet the established goals. A vast number of studies have investigated mission statements in industry; however, little is known on how mission statements affect institutes in the higher education sector. Every university is intrinsically different, with its own mission and goals. This study aims to explore how mission statements make the difference among universities, by understanding the values delivered by the mission statements.


This study attempts to understand the core values of universities through a content analysis of the mission statements of the top 250 universities worldwide.


The results show four core dimensions in university mission statements, namely, “Education Philosophies”, “Strategic Orientation”, “Social Responsibility” and “Values to Stakeholders”, while the most common core values are “Research”, “Educate” and “Student”.

Research limitations/implications

Mission statements offer insightful venues for the analysis of the strategic directions of universities. The results show that top universities present their core values through their mission statements. Some mission statements are more service-oriented (towards students) and some are more social-oriented (towards society and stakeholders). These mission statements are communicated to various stakeholders. “Education philosophies” are communicated to educators and students, “Social responsibility” is to the society, “Values to the stakeholders” are towards the different parties involved in the education system and the last one “Strategic orientation” is for the strategy setting.


This paper proposes a new methodology of mission statement studies, covering not only studies on mission statements but also the internationalization strategies of universities, which attract attention from academics and education researchers.



The order of the authors is arbitrary as both authors evaluate their contributions equal. K.M.Y.L. prepared the theoretical part and K.B. prepared the methodological part. Other parts were of equal contributions. This research received no external funding. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


Breznik, K. and Law, K.M.Y. (2019), "What do mission statements reveal about the values of top universities in the world?", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 1362-1375.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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