Jérémy Lévêque, winner of the 2023 “Promotion of research in innovation studies” competition

Published on 21 February 2024
Concours Promotion de la recherche en étude de l’innovation
His work on “Conceiving mission as a generative commitment: issues, pitfalls and formulation principles for companies with a mission” has been highly commended.

Jérémy Lévêque, currently a post-doctoral student at the Scientific Management Centre of Mines Paris – PSL Université, is the winner of the 2023 “Promotion of Research in the Study of Innovation” competition (RRI/ISTE/Wiley). This is a fine reward for the work carried out since his thesis on : Conceiving mission as a generative commitment: issues, pitfalls and formulation principles for mission-driven companies.

Here is a summary of her thesis, written under the supervision of Blanche Segrestin and Kevin Levillain, who hold the chair in Corporate Theory, Governance Models and Collective Creation.

Following the example of France, many countries now offer legal frameworks that allow commercial companies to commit to an enforceable purpose or ‘mission’ that goes beyond the mere pursuit of profits. This legal innovation is now giving rise to a wide variety of missions, both in terms of content and form. The law has given companies a great deal of freedom in this respect. Analysis of the first forms tends to show that drawing up a mission statement raises major challenges: how do you define lasting commitments in environments that are turbulent by nature, and all the more so when the company has set itself the objective of breaking new ground or innovating?

The aim of this thesis is to characterise the principles and methods that make it possible to formulate a mission that reconciles sustainable and controllable commitment, while at the same time encouraging innovation. Based on historical and contemporary cases of generative commitment, the thesis analyses cases of mission drift and their causes. It proposes a model of the mission, which can then be used to characterise the main pitfalls in formulating missions. The analysis shows that they are linked, on the one hand, to the partially unknown nature of the objects to which the promises relate and, on the other hand, to the interrelationships between these objects. This model therefore accounts for the different types of mission and their associated risks.

This research also enables us to analyse the methods used by companies to formulate their mission and to suggest ways of overcoming the pitfalls identified. In particular, the thesis suggests the systematic testing of formulations in two ways, either by shedding light on unknown areas, or by showing the possible spread of promises and the risks of contradictions they generate. The thesis thus sets out methodological proposals for ensuring coherence between promises and the possibility of judging the integrity of future conduct.