Etymologically, both the words ‘mission‘ and ‘vision‘ have their roots in religion. Most religions, from Taoism, to Christianity and Islam have used the term vision in their religious texts for thousands of years.
The pursuit of organizational clarity and alignment towards a strategic direction has preoccupied researchers and practitioners for many decades. Especially over the last 50 years, a variety of management concepts have been popularized and adopted by organizations with more or less success.
Two such management concepts that gained popularity since then are mission and vision statements. They are considered strategic management tools or instruments, one of the clearest definitions for both being: “The mission statement is a statement of a company’s purpose,…, if mission outlines what the company is attempting to achieve at the present time, its vision offers a view of what the enterprise might become.” (Grant 2002: 60).
The term “mission” is reported to have been used first by Jesuit monks, to depict the act of sending monks on overseas missions, such as the missions in the 16th century in South America, following the landing of Christopher Columbus (Merino and Newson 1995). Over time, the use of the term expanded from religion to the military, who used it to reflect a specific assignment allocated as part of a plan or strategy. The link between military and business vocabulary was facilitated by books such as “On War” by Carl von Clausewitz (1832), considered one of the most important treaties on the philosophy of war. An entire section of the book (“Of strategy in general”) was dedicated to strategy and is considered today an important precursor of strategy management literature.
We live in a time when sustainability is becoming a rising priority for companies as a vast number of stakeholder groups such as investors, management and employees try to understand the social and environmental implications of the company’s operational and financial activities and decisions. Sustainability has become “both a strategic imperative and a performance driver” that strives to maximize business impact (Gorbach, 2009)
Although not benefiting from a unanimously accepted definition, Relationship Marketing is a sub-discipline of Marketing defined (Gummesson 2004, p. 136) as ”Marketing based on interaction within networks of relationships”. The classic Relationship Marketing refers to the physical distribution network relationships, with main focus on supplier-customer interactions (Gummesson 1997 cited in Harwood & Garry 2006), the premise being the mutual benefit for both parties and also the commitment to ensure relationship longevity (Harwood and Gary, 2006).