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Defining Organizational Purpose and Exploring the Concept’s Implications for Innovation: How Perspective Affects Creative Idea Generation in the Innovation Process



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Ebert, Charles 


In the last decade, organizational purpose has re-emerged as a prevalent topic in the practitioner world. However, a detailed academic understanding of the modern version of the concept and its implications has remained elusive within the Marketing literature. This thesis focuses on developing a robust construct of organizational purpose, as well as beginning an exploration of the concept’s implications for business practice and performance. Two papers comprise the thesis. The first paper analyses in-depth interviews with upper management employees in peer-recommended firms, with the goal of developing a robust understanding of the concept of organizational purpose as it is used in practice today. After a definition of organizational purpose is established, a conceptual framework is built that delineates possible drivers and consequences of the concept’s adoption in today’s business landscape. The second paper presents a series of experiments that explore one possible implication of a firm adopting an organizational purpose, a change of perspective within the innovation process. Longitudinal analysis of creativity tasks over a three-week period, combined with an online experiment and an in-field pilot study demonstrate that perspective can impact both the number and the creativity of generated ideas in the innovation process. Altogether, this thesis attempts to accomplish two objectives. First, it lays a foundation for understanding and building research around an emerging practitioner concept. Second, it demonstrates how the concept of organizational purpose can be used to develop research projects that bring valuable insight to business practice.





Prabhu, Jaideep
Yin, Eden
Hurth, Victoria


Organisational Purpose, Marketing, Creativity


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Judge Business School Innovation Growth Lab