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A mission statement is a declaration of attitude and outlook more than a statement of specific details. It usually is broad in scope for at least two major reasons. First, a good mission statement allows for the generation and consideration of a range of feasible alternative objectives and strategies without unduly stifling management creativity. Excess specificity would limit the potential of creative growth for the organization.
On the other hand, an overly general statement that does not exclude any strategy alternatives could be dysfunctional. Apple Computer’s mission statement, for example, should not open the possibility for diversification into pesticides, or Ford Motor Company’s into food processing. Second, a mission statement needs to be broad to effectively reconcile differences among and appeal to an organization’s diverse stakeholders, the individuals and groups of persons who have a special stake or claim on the company.
Stakeholders include employees; managers; stockholders; boards of directors; customers, suppliers, Distributors, creditors, governments (local, state, federal, and foreign), unions, competitors, environmental groups, and the general public. Stakeholders affect and are affected by an organization’s strategies, yet the claims and concerns of diverse constituencies vary and often conflict. For example, the general public is especially interested in social responsibility, whereas stockholders are more interested in profitability.
Claims on any business literally may number in the thousand, and often include clean air, jobs, taxes, investment opportunities, career opportunities, equal employment opportunities, employee benefits, salaries, wages, clean water and community services. All stakeholders’ claims on an organization cannot be pursued with equal emphasis. A good mission statement indicates the relative attentions that an organization will devote to meeting the claims of various stakeholders.