The Importance of a Strong Mission Statement in Public Administration

In the world of business, a strong mission statement helps define the reason the company exists, and all goals and objectives should organically grow from that statement. The same holds true for those who labor in the field of public administration. A strong mission statement is critical to its success just as in any other occupation.


What sets any business apart from another is the distinction of its mission. In other words, its purpose. Distinctive organizations understand why people come to them rather than to others. In fact, customers themselves also have a strong sense of the company’s purpose, and that’s the reason they return.

What is a Mission Statement?

At the most fundamental level, a mission statement declares what the company is and how it’s different from other, similar companies. It contains the company’s identity.

The mission statement also functions as a company constitution. All other practices and motivations should stem from the mission statement. For example, consider a mission statement that says, “to produce the best ketchup on the market using the highest-quality ingredients available.” If someone suggests using lower quality ingredients to increase profit margins, a mission-oriented company will reject the suggestion immediately.

Throughout the company’s existence, strategies may change along with market objectives, but the overall mission statement should remain the same.

The Difference Between Mission, Strategies, and Goals

The company’s mission is the ultimate reason it exists. The strategies detail how the company plans on meeting the mission statement while goals are the achievable targets needed to meet the strategies.

Quite often these things get confused. A solid understanding of each is as essential to Public Administration’s success as an MPA degree is to an employee’s career goals.

The mission statement is long-term (throughout the existence of the company). Strategies are shorter term (a couple of years). The mission statement should guide the short-term goals, avoiding long-term problems that might otherwise arise.

Effects of the Mission Statement

The mission statement should be an ideal that runs through all levels of the organization. With that in mind, it should influence the company on all levels, from developing and implementing strategies to conducting performance appraisals. It should be the force behind setting short and long-term goals, as well as making hiring decisions. It’s the fire that makes the engine work.

In the Blood, Not on the Wall

Oftentimes, mission statements get relegated to a picture frame on the wall. Have you ever experienced the following? You enter a store that has its mission statement posted on the wall, “Our Mission is Unparalleled Customer Service,” yet you see the employees talking with each other, milling around aimlessly, and ignoring customers.

You have shouldn’t have to place the mission statement on the wall (in case customers aren’t sure); your employees should have it in their blood. It should be the impetus behind everything that happens there.

The world of Public Administration should be no different from the rest of the world of business. Your mission statement should be distinctive in its existence and every person should know and feel it when they walk through your door.