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Title:They Don't Think Like We Do: Factors Influencing Employees' Interpretations of Organizational Mission
Author(s):Whitbred, Robert Charles
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Noshir Contractor
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Business Administration, Management
Abstract:Organizational mission is the purpose, strategy, values, and behavioral standards of an organization that may or may not be articulated in a formal statement. The influence of mission on employees who are not strategic managers has been largely neglected. Organizational members develop their own interpretations of mission that are critical to their ability to function effectively in organizations. These interpretations influence what employees perceive as appropriate behavior, and eventually impact overall organizational functioning. This study begins to assess the relationship between mission and organizational members by focusing on four issues. First, it explores whether employees develop multiple interpretations of their organization's mission and if there is variability in these interpretations. Second, it investigates whether there is a relationship between an organization's formal mission statement and employees' interpretations of their organization's mission. Third, it tests hypotheses predicting which employees will be more likely to develop interpretations of mission that overlap with the organization's mission statement. Fourth, this study examines the relative influence of theoretical mechanisms on the likelihood of employees having similar interpretations of their organization's mission. Theories grounded in informal mechanisms (e.g., communication with one another), formal organizational factors (e.g., functional work group), and demographic factors (e.g., gender) were tested in three types of organizations (a bureaucracy, a platform organization, and a virtual organization). Semantic network analysis was used to facilitate this investigation. Results suggest employees develop multiple and variable interpretations of their organization's mission, there is an association between formal mission statements and employees' interpretations of mission, and employees who are high in the organizational hierarchy are more likely to have interpretations of the organization's mission that overlap with the mission statement. Further, employees in the bureaucracy who communicated with each other, who were in the same functional work group, and who were spatially proximate to one another were more likely to have similar interpretations of their organization's mission. In the platform organization, employees who were spatially proximate to one another were more likely to have similar interpretations of their organization's mission. Limitations of the study are recognized and avenues for future research are developed.
Issue Date:2004
Description:160 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3131053
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2004

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