Having a Clear Purpose Drives Performance

Does corporate purpose influence firm performance? More than two decades ago, the scholars Christopher A. Bartlett and Sumantra Ghoshal argued that purpose, not strategy, structure or systems, was the essential precursor to effective management. Since then, the public discourse on purpose has gone up substantially. And while there’s a growing body of research on related topics — from CSR to ESG — when it comes to corporate purpose itself, apart from theoretical discussions and case studies, there is very little empirical progress. Here, Claudine Gartenberg, assistant professor of management at the Wharton School, discusses why that is, and shares her findings from one of the largest studies done on the topic.

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