Many of us consider organizational mission statements to be either corny attempts at marketing or an archaic management technique for motivating and socializing employees. However an extraordinary new study conducted in Germany tells a different story.
Researchers there set out to investigate the impact of mission statements on how employees treat one another and resolve conflicts on the job. Specifically, they looked at differences in the integrative complexity of mission statements, or the degree to which these messages presented more and less complex ideas about the work of the organization, as well as provided an integrated or coherent view of its primary focus.
The researchers searched the web and identified and analyzed the mission statements of 20 different organizations in terms of their levels of integrative complexity. They then surveyed the employees of each organization and asked them about conflict at work.
What they found was that the higher the level of integrative complexity of the statements, the more employees viewed conflict at work as constructive and relations as fair and respectful. That’s right. Either more nuanced mission statements reflected workplaces of a more constructive and fair nature, or the statements helped to establish a culture of fairness and win-win conflict resolution, or both!
Either way, the message is clear: Managers and CEOs would do well to attend to both the complexity and clarity of their organizational goals and missions.
Kugler, K (2012). How organizational culture relates to conflict management and organizational justice perspectives. PhD Dissertation, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich Germany.