Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


Questions of efficacy have always plagued the use of mission statement as a strategic planning tool. In most planning models, the mission statement serves to clarify goals and guide the formation of strategies. However, little empirical evidence exists validating that mission statements actually improve the performance of organizations, even though regional accrediting commissions in higher education include mission statement and affiliated processes as criterion for accreditation. For community colleges, the question is how can mission statements best be used to move the institution forward in a climate of change and challenges?

The purpose of this study is to explore the role and efficacy of community college mission statements in the strategic planning process. Role refers to the function of the mission statement within the institution‘s planning framework, both actual and desired, whereas efficacy refers to how well the statement fulfills the desired function.

This national qualitative research employed an instrumental case study design and included nine community colleges geographically distributed throughout the United States. Mintzberg‘s strategy formation theory and the research of Lang and Lopers-Sweetman into mission statement roles provided a framework for the study. The findings clearly corroborate the multiple roles required of mission statements, and that certain of these roles can facilitate mission statement efficacy. Nevertheless, the findings also unmistakably found some roles are inherently in conflict with one another. The implications of the findings are that institutional planners must be unambiguous at the outset of the mission statement development process as to which roles will be required of the mission statement. This clarity of utility assists in the development of a comprehensible mission statement and will improve its efficacy. A model mission statement development process is presented that combines findings from the research vii with other model mission statement development processes. The resulting process can be used by governing boards, presidents, institutional planners, and planning committees at community colleges to improve the efficacy of their mission statement and the strategic planning process.