The Nature of Purpose for Individuals within Organizations from Strategy to Corporate Culture

Alessandro Castelli

Student thesis: Master thesis


The concept of purpose in business has been widely mentioned in relation to strategy and its components. The definitions that have been attributed to this element traditionally tend to underline its dependence on the expected impact of the corporate goals in giving a direction and inspiration for action. This view, however, may neglect the importance of other factors which are needed to explain and foster a shared purpose among the members of a social structure. This paper presents the evolution of the theories about organizational alignment and purpose, concluding that the purpose of individuals in an organizational context is twofold in its nature: it is both affected by strategy and by firm-specific variables referring to internal corporate culture. Such variables are further observed with empirical analysis on a sample of 2592 individuals taken from the corporate populations of two companies, an Italian one and a Danish one, in the pharmaceutical industry. Demographic and organizational filters are applied to detect trends and patterns, predictive modelling is used to statistically test the influence of the corporate culture variables under examination. Results are encouraging and show that certain aspects, like the perceived credibility of people in charge and the sense of camaraderie, assume a determinant role in sustaining the purpose of individuals. Generalization of the findings can also be made to a certain extent. Finally, the relevant strategies and practices adopted by the companies in the sample, with reference to corporate culture as a leverage for purpose, will be discussed.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages71
SupervisorsJohn K. Christiansen