What Makes Content? Factors Influencing the Mission of Universities

RISIS Research Seminar

April 24 2024 @ 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Presenter: Harry Hoffmann, TU Ilmenau

Discussant: Marco Seeber, University of Agder


Mission statements are common instruments for the strategic positioning of universities. However, there are few large-scale, cross-national studies examining the factors that influence the content of universities’ mission statements. We address this research gap, exploring the content of 413 mission statements from European universities by applying correlated topic modeling. Moreover, relying on institutional theories of organization we study factors that explain differences in the content of mission statements. Our findings reveal six distinct topics addressed in mission statements. The prevalence of a specific topic is significantly shaped by the cultural orientation of the universities’ host country, the university’s founding context, and institutional control. Our findings contribute not only to research on universities’ strategic positioning but also shed light on the diffusion of global trends across organizations and the determinants of their adaptation. Moreover, our study offers an illustrative example of how big data analytics can enhance public administration research.