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Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 1
Do the Top U.S. Corporations Often Use The Same Words in their Vision, Mission and
S. Eric Anderson PhD, MBA and Brad Jamison PhD, MBA
La Sierra University School of Business,
4500 River Walk Parkway, Riverside, CA 92515
This present study identified the most commonly used descriptors words in the vision, mission
and value statements of the 100 largest U.S. corporations based on market capitalization to
determine the degree to which they share the same words. The present study found that there was
a significant amount of shared words used in corporate value statements, but not in corporate
vision and mission statements.
Keywords: Value Statements, Mission Statements, Vision Statements, Corporations, Market
It has been commonly joked that the reason so many corporate mission, vision and value
statements sound the same is because they are the same. The purpose of this present study is to
determine the degree to which the 100 largest corporations based on market capitalization share
the same words in their mission, vision and values statements. The confluence of values as
articulated by corporations and the evolving public perception of corporate responsibility is a
quandary affecting the course of business and its public relations efforts in the ever-changing
business environment. Most corporations have articulated in some form their values in a PR
effort to assuage public perception of their responsibility to core values by which they operate
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 2
and their sensitivity to issues of public importance. Do they actually reflect inherent meaning in
the company, product, or business model or could values be merely words deployed as part of a
PR strategy; a necessity in the current business environment? The new role PR has assumed is
based on organizations getting a clear message out of what their values are and what they stand
for (Seitel & Doorley, 2012).
Public opinion unquestionably is a strong force affecting how values are viewed and articulated
in corporations. Normally, these are drawn from culture to delineate appropriate activities and
goals for the organization and emerge through work or products that are associated with values,
or from the organization’s goals, management practices, or other participatory practices (Chen,
Lune, & Queen, 2013). Values become cultural assets for both the organization and its
management model. Internally they strengthen the members’ sense of belonging. Externally
they develop the company’s image and sustainability strategies (Alvarado Muñoz & Monroy del
Castillo, 2013). Often success factors for specific initiatives frequently point to support from
culture and values in the organization, including the alignment of culture and values between
individuals and departments, and the organization’s mission, vision, and values (Arbab Kash,
Spaulding, Johnson, & Gamm (2014). Ultimately, organizational values contribute back to the
culture and success of organizations. Organizational cultures, training, and socialization tend to
add to heterogeneity of value systems within organizations. (Graber & Kilpatrick, 2008).
Once identified, values become a driving force for change within the organization. Culture and
values are critical success factors for implementing strategic change. Effective leaders who
successfully implement change initiatives are concerned with building and communicating the
right culture and values (Arbab Kash et al., 2014). As one study noted, those values need to start
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 3
at the top as personal values of the executives (Maharaj, 2009). Possessing strong or inspiring
values is increasingly considered to be a key quality of successful leaders (Graber & Kilpatrick,
2008). In addition to other common management practices, management by values is also an
important factor contributing to enhanced organizational performance. In a study, leaders
engaged staff members not only in developing core organizational values, but also to
strategically use values in day-to-day management practice and embed those values into strategic
and other planning processes (Bell-Laroche, MacLean, Thibault, & Wolfe, 2014).
Clearly articulating values help clarify another challenge confronting managers: the competing
or conflicting informal values within a unit or the entire organization. Organizations often fail to
reward members who uphold or enact the organization’s values, which can lead to lack of
motivation and lower commitment to the organization. Managers who develop values-based
leadership learn to recognize their personal and professional values. This helps determine their
personal expectations from the larger organization and understand what can be implemented
within one’s sphere of influence. It also helps to understand and incorporate the values of
internal stakeholders and commit to values-based leadership (Graber & Kilpatrick, 2008).
As referenced earlier, a leader’s personal values affect, shape, or align with organizational
values. Corporate values are important as they determine the choices the executives make and
how they influence corporate strategy. This fact begs the question as to how do both the
individual and corporate values of executives affect behavior and in essence the strategic
decision-making process? One way is for the business’ code of ethics, encapsulating the vision
and values, serve as a guide when facing tough decisions (Maharaj, 2008). Usually a manager’s
personal value orientations affect the decision-making process, especially when there is a lack of
control and support from the organization, or when policy is ambiguous. The decision-making
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 4
freedom accorded to a manager determines whether they design stakeholder participation in
accordance with personal value orientations, the organization, or policy (Aggestam, 2014).
Many times there is an ideological tension between managerial and professional values leading
to a cacophony of images competing to construct and deconstruct organizational identity over
time. Organizations tend towards disorganization, but most somehow retain a sufficient sense of
multiple identities to survive (Stiles, 2011). Organizational health is the concept that an
organization is able to deal with the tensions of diverse and competing values. Clarifying that
inverse organizational value pyramid and value-based management style streamlines competing
values and helps managers to deal with the value tensions underlying workplace health problems
at the organizational as well as group and individual level (Orvik & Axelsson, 2012).
Values have often been seen as the domain of the nonprofit sector. The nonprofit sector operates
effectively and efficiently because of its commitment to its values, which are central in driving
and improving performance (Cheverton, 2007). The common mantra, no doubt inspired by
Milton Friedman was that the expressed value of the corporate world is to make a profit. It has
been seen that nonprofit agencies’ ongoing commitment to values has been key to maintaining
and improving performance, rather than adopting the corporate approached of reward and
remuneration that would negatively impact organizational performance (Cheverton, 2007).
Executives in the private sector have looked to volunteer in the nonprofit sector for, among other
reasons, mission and values that provided additional meaning to work not found in the private
sector (Drucker, 1989).
The values of the organization are the key means of attracting staff in the nonprofit sector, not
increasing the organization’s bottom line or an individuals’ salary, Cheverton (2007). There is a
positive relation between the congruence of employee and organizational values, employee
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 5
attitudes toward the organization, and their personal performance, which are positively
associated with job and organizational satisfaction organization and their commitment to the
organization’s values and mission (Amos & Weathington, 2008; Taylor, Chait, & Holland,
1991). This brings up the idea of a values fit between individuals and organizations, a recurring
theme in academic and business circles. Where there is alignment of staff and organizational
values a range of positive outcomes are encountered. It is the perceptions of organizational
values that has had the greatest impact on staff commitment (Stride & Higgs, 2014), but
organizational values are influenced more by the realization of the personal values of its
members than by the expectation members have to realize their personal values, and thus remain
in the organization and set goals to be achieved (Ventura Maurino & De Domenico, 2012). As
can be seen, culture and employee-focused criteria are important factors in the success of any
organization. This generally results in significant relationships between culture values,
employee-focused values, and productivity-focused values (Ab Hamid, Mustafa, Mohd Suradi,
Idris, & Abdullah, 2013).
Strong values can create problems for nonprofits since they attract passionate people who are
value-driven. As values are inherently subjective, significant conflict around these values and
how to enact them could cause division, even within small governance boards (Cheverton, 2007).
Recently the attachment to values may not be as strong with younger people. In regards to job
choice decisions, while millennial undergraduates rated values highly in job choice scenarios, a
majority were willing to trade this off for greater extrinsic benefits (Leveson & Joiner, 2014).
Attracting members by values poses a high possibility of groupthink were values become
redundant, masking other member-related problems. Personal values (i.e. beliefs, education and
social status) and corporate values (as stated in the corporate code of ethic, vision and mission
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 6
statements) elicit valuable insight about members. Screening new members personal values and
knowledge for congruency with the organization values could help preventing future Enron and
WorldCom fiascos Maharaj (2008). This notion that values are a means of attracting staff is to
be tested by the NFL as they undergo a revision of their values and begin to suspend players who
don’t live up to the standards at all times.
From the customer perspective, corporate values may resonate either from a shared personal
value with the perceived value of the organization, or as part of corporate branding. Villagra and
López (2013) noted that new social demands require responsible behavior of companies. This
phenomenon, which coincided with the development of social responsibility, has a direct impact
on the corporate brand and values, including the vision and mission associated with the brand.
Integrating the corporate communication process into the strategic management, governance and
value creation processes illustrates how communication can contribute to the creation of value
for organizations that benefit the business and society (de Beer, 2014).
This duality of corporate values led to the present study, which compiled a list of value, vision
and mission statements from the 100 largest US corporations based on market capitalization. The
focus of the study was to determine the degree that the top corporations shared the same words in
their value, vision and mission statements. MBA students scoured corporate websites to identify
value, vision and mission statements as stated in publicly available strategic planning documents.
Key words were selected from each corporation and aggregated.
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 7
The values of Integrity, Respect, Team/Teamwork and Innovate/Innovation were the most
commonly used words by corporations. Integrity was used by 58% of the corporations, while
respect was used by 39%, team/teamwork was used 34% of the time and Innovate/Innovation
was used 30% of the time. Quality was used by almost a fifth of the corporations, but stands out
between those in the top four forming a natural break or outlier from the 6th through 12th values,
which were used by about 1 in 10 corporations. Only McDonalds, Oracle and Schlumberger
didn’t use a most commonly used descriptor word in their value statements (Appendix A). See
Table 1 for a listing of the most commonly used words in the top corporate value statements.
Table 1 – Values Statements
Most Commonly Used Words
Innovate/innovative was the only word that appeared on the top commonly used list for vision,
mission and value statements. Global seemed to be the word of choice in mission statements,
while World was the word of choice in vision statements. The words Global or World failed to
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 8
appear in the top list of used words in value statements. Integrity was the most commonly used
descriptor word in corporate values statements and the eighth most commonly used word for
mission statements, but failed to appear on the list of most commonly used vision statement
words. See Table 2 for a listing of the most commonly used words in the top corporate vision
Table 2 – Vision Statements
Most Commonly Used Words
Lead/leader/leading was a commonly used word in vision and value statements, but failed to
make the list of commonly used words in mission statements. See table 3 for a listing of the most
commonly used words in the top corporate mission statements.
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 9
Table 3 – Mission Statements
Most Commonly Used Words
It could be argued that the reason corporate value statements often sound similar is because they
are similar as evident by the wide use of shared words. However, the argument for vision and
mission statements being similar due to the high use of shared words doesn’t seem to be as
One the questions rising from this study, is whether corporations use similar words in value
statements because they resonate better with either employees or customers. There is probably
some truth in both positions. There might be a universality of values that provides for limited
options regarding values. For example, most stakeholders may want their organization to value
integrity. It may even rank in the top five most important values for the organization. While it
might not be surprising to find it among top-level organizational values, what may be poorly
communicated or defined is what integrity means to each particular organization.
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 10
Poor definition or communication of top-level organizational values confuses the roles of values
in the decision-making process of organizations. Without clear definitions of values, decisionmakers default to personal values or their personal definitions of corporate values as the rule for
applying corporate values to corporate decisions. This leads to a wide variation of results based
on the same values.
The commonality of shared values between corporations suggests a need to re-examine what
core values are really important and unique to each organization. There is a need for top
management to re-examine the values and principles that underline the firm’s relationship and
motivations towards nature, the market and key stakeholders (Johnson & Granger Macy, 2001;
Knight, Pearce, Smith, Olian, & et al, 1999; Markoczy, 1997). While the top-level wording of
the values may be similar or the same, each organization needs to better communicate what those
values represent, and the uniqueness of each value as defined by the organization.
In light of the existing value duality environment, it is not enough to articulate values congruent
with product and industry. Now corporations need to articulate values that are congruent with
the public perception at large. Some are already questioning this values-creep that affects legal
binding contracts for non-performance issues. However public perception is very strong, and
corporations that wish to do business in this environment are wiser to align their values with the
changing environment rather than try to ignore it.
Journal of Marketing and Management, 6 (1), 1-15, May 2015 11
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