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

journal contribution
posted on 2019-07-04, 00:00 authored by K Breznik, Kris LawKris Law
Purpose: 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. Design/methodology/approach: This study attempts to understand the core values of universities through a content analysis of the mission statements of the top 250 universities worldwide. Findings: 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. Originality/value: 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.



International journal of organizational analysis






Bingley, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article, C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2019, Emerald Publishing Limited




Emerald Publishing Limited