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The Ashridge Mission Model
Given a certain degree of confusion surrounding what an organisational mission should encompass and achieve, Campell and Yeung conducted a two-year research project with 53 large, successful companies in the early 1990s in order to try to devise a meaningful mission structure. The fruits of their labour is a framework that has come to be known as the Ashridge Mission Model. Here we examine the model in detail.
Campbell and Yeung’s definition of an organisation’s mission has four linked elements: purpose; strategy; behaviour standards and values as shown below: ...view middle of the document...
Campbell and Yeung believe that it is the organisations with a higher ideal in mind that will attract and retain committed and enthusiastic employees.
It is interesting to note a recent trend whereby big corporates are trying to buy into this higher ideal, as seen in McDonald’s acquisition of socially responsible ice cream makers Ben and Jerry’s, and L’Oreal’s purchase of the Bodyshop. Early evidence suggests, however, that the social responsibility halo may already be slipping. At Ben & Jerry’s, for instance, a post-acquisition social audit revealed that only 45% of employees thought that senior management was taking the company’s social mission seriously. 
Strategy is the commercial logic for the company, and links purpose to behaviour in a rational way. If an organisation believes its purpose is to be an international leader in its field, it must have a strategy in place to:
‘define the business that the company is going to compete in, the position that the company plans to hold in that business, and the distinctive competence or competitive advantage that the company has or plans to create.’ 
Campbell and Yeung give Marks and Spencer as an example of how an organisation’s strategy should link with its purpose. Marks and Spencer’s aim was to be the high street’s best value clothes retailer. At the time of the study, the company achieved this by demanding the highest quality merchandise from its suppliers, by providing very high levels of customer service, and combining this with low overheads as a result of high sales per square foot on the shop floor.
3. Behaviour standards
Campbell and Yeung believe that organisational purpose and strategy mean little unless they can be converted into action, via organisational policies and behaviour standards that guide people in their day-to-day actions. Furthermore, their research suggests that such standards can enhance organisational performance.
They use British Airways (BA) to illustrate how organisational purpose and strategy can be translated into behaviour standards and actions as follows:
· At the time of the study, BA’s purpose was ‘to be the best and most successful company in the airline industry’.
· Its strategy for achieving this was to provide value for money, higher service levels than its competitors, and approachable managers who understood their staff.
· These strategic objectives were translated into actions via BA’s behavioural guidelines, delivered through their organisation-wide ‘Putting People First’ training programme, which required (among other things) managers and employees to be helpful and friendly to customers at all times.
Behaviour standards, then, can be summed up as ‘the way we do things around here.’ 
Values are the principles and beliefs that underpin an organisation’s culture, and give meaning to organisational...