Enduring Success: What We Can Learn from the History of Outstanding Corporations

Enduring Success: What We Can Learn from the History of Outstanding Corporations

Enduring Success: What We Can Learn from the History of Outstanding Corporations

Enduring Success: What We Can Learn from the History of Outstanding Corporations

Synopsis

Enduring Success addresses a key question in business today: How can companies succeed over time? To learn the source of enduring greatness, author Christian Stadler directed a team of eight researchers in a six-year study of some of Europe's oldest and most stellar companies, targeting nine that have survived for more than 100 years and have significantly outperformed the market over the past fifty years. Readers may wonder, "Why European companies?" Yet, Europe is the ideal place to seek the key to long-term success; half of the Fortune Global 500 companies that are 100 years old or older can be found in Europe, as can 72 of the 100 oldest family businesses in the world.

Fifteen years after Collins and Porras' Built to Last, this new book incorporates fresh insights from management science and provides the first non-US perspective on long-range success. Through Stadler's study, a counterintuitive story emerges: the greatest companies adapt to a constantly changing environment by being intelligently conservative. Enduring Success provides a coherent framework, grounded in five principles and practical concepts, for business leaders who are prepared to learn from the history of some of the world's greatest institutions.

Excerpt

There is no such thing as perpetual success.

Life is a constant struggle and we would be fools if we made ourselves believe that some people always succeed. To be honest, life would be dull and boring if we did not face occasional struggles. Success, after all, is a relative experience—relative not only to failure but also to the mediocre and mundane. Overcoming major barriers is part of the fun and makes victory so much sweeter.

For corporations the story is very much the same. At this writing, the world is struggling through a severe financial crisis. This has happened before, of course, and it’s a reminder that cycles of boom and bust are endemic to capitalism. A few years ago, following the burst of the New Economy bubble, shareholders, managers, and employees went through similar motions when they became painfully aware that the promise of easy riches remained just that, a promise. What most experienced hands had known all along became obvious to the general public once again: companies that we celebrate one day might stumble and fall before the sun rises again. Armed with natural curiosity, most of us would like to know whether things really have to be that way. Is there the occasional company that avoids or defers this fate? A company our great-grandparents were able to admire? A company we can admire . . .

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