ashridge-model

What Is The Ashridge Model? The Ashridge Model In A Nutshell

The Ashridge model is the result of a research project conducted by Andrew Campbell and Sally Yeung. The Ashridge model provides a framework for creating a company mission statement. The project – which ran for two years – involved Campbell and Yeung interviewing 53 successful companies to give structure to the ideal mission statement. At the time, there was some degree of confusion around mission statements and what they should encompass or achieve.

Understanding the Ashridge model?

The Ashridge model is the result of a research project conducted by Andrew Campbell and Sally Yeung. 

The project – which ran for two years – involved Campbell and Yeung interviewing 53 successful companies to give structure to the ideal mission statement. At the time, there was some degree of confusion around mission statements and what they should encompass or achieve.

Campbell and Yeung’s findings resulted in a framework that would later become known as the Ashridge model. In the next section, this article will discuss the model and its four, linked elements.

The four elements of the Ashridge model

Four elements guide the crafting of a well-rounded mission statement.

1 – Purpose  

Why does the company exist? Some businesses find this question difficult to answer and avoid it altogether. 

In very general terms, Campbell and Yeung believe that organizations fall into three different categories:

  1. Shareholder benefit – in these organizations, a strategy that maximizes shareholder returns is preferred. 
  2. Shareholder satisfaction – these companies tend to act responsibly toward shareholders, customers, employees, and the environment without excelling. They may do this for altruistic reasons or to be seen to be doing the right thing.
  3. Higher ideal organizations – or those who prioritize following a higher, sometimes moral purpose over satisfying shareholders. Typically, this purpose involves some sort of social, ethical, or environmental change.

2 – Strategy

Strategy determines future actions, aligns the organization toward a common goal, and should define how the company intends to beat the competition. 

As a result, a mission statement should reflect organizational strategy. It should also reflect the current position the business finds itself in.

3 – Values

Values determine behaviors and beliefs which in turn influence company culture. 

In successful companies, there is a strong correlation between company values and employee values. Thus, the mission statement should reinforce these values and reflect wider employee sentiment.

4 – Behavioural standards

Behavioral standards describe the acting out of company values or strategy by employees in a real-world setting. Indeed, purpose and strategy are empty intellectual thoughts unless they are consistently displayed with action.

Again, the mission statement should support or reinforce these values. This is particularly important for brand image since consumers want to see businesses embodying the values they preach. 

For example, cosmetic retailer The Body Shop strives to produce cosmetics that do not harm animals or the environment. This environmental consciousness extends to its physical stores, with the company revolutionizing the now common two-bin system for waste and recycling. More importantly, The Body Shop employees receive training on environmental stewardship and embody the mission statement values customers expect. 

Benefits of the Ashridge model

Some of the benefits of using the Ashridge model include:

  • Value objectivity – given that organizational values need to be aligned with employee values, the model allows any incompatibility to be analyzed and measured. This brings much-needed objectivity to complex and less tangible cultural and human resource issues. What’s more, a business that understands where value discrepancies lie can then go about fixing them.
  • Reinforcement and clarification – the model also demands that strategy and values resonate and reinforce each other. Campbell and Yeung note that finding compatible values is simple, but analyzing their impact on strategy is more difficult. With an emphasis on behavioral standards, the model can bridge this gap by measuring the degree of resonance between strategy and values. When the relationship between both factors is understood, employees are less likely to have a cavalier attitude toward the company mission and act accordingly.

Key takeaways:

  • The Ashridge model is a framework for creating a company mission statement. It was created by researchers Andrew Campbell and Sally Yeung after interviewing 53 companies with successful mission statements.
  • The Ashridge model defines four elements of a sound mission statement: purpose, value, strategy, and behavioral standards. 
  • The Ashridge model brings objectivity to sometimes complex cultural or human resource issues. It also provides clarity on the behavior required of the organization to underpin its mission.

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"