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Catholic health systems, mission statements, organizational identity, social network analysis, values



  1. White, Kenneth R.
  2. Dandi, Roberto


Background: Catholic health systems represent a unique sector of nonprofit health care delivery organizations because they must be accountable to institutional pressures of the Roman Catholic Church, in addition to responsiveness to market pressures. Mission statements and values are purported to be the driving force of Catholic institutional identity. Central to the understanding of the Catholic health care delivery sector is the exploration of variation in mission and values statements across the homogeneous field of organizations.


Purposes: The purposes of this study were to identify expressed organizational identity variation-in terms of keywords in mission statements and values-of Catholic health systems in the United States by applying a methodology that integrates text and social network analytical techniques.


Methodology: Data were obtained from the Web site of The Catholic Health Association of the United States and the Web sites of 50 Catholic health systems in 2007. Catholic health system mission statements and values were assessed using a cross-sectional study design. Text analysis and social network techniques were employed to identify the most central words in the texts and linkages among mission statement components and values.


Findings: This study identifies the components of a common mission statement and the most shared and unique values for a Catholic health system. Even with tremendous similarity, there is also evidence of intrasectoral variation between Catholic health system keywords in mission statements and values.


Practice Implications: Management implications include the consideration of word relationships developing and constructing mission and values statements to form the framework for strategic vision and management decision making, to assess potential partnership arrangements based on expressed mission statements and values, and to use in executing due diligence in mergers and partnerships.