This paper aims to discuss key aspects of the longevity of business enterprises across the world. It explores the parameters that set apart a company which had survived for more than 1,400 years from most large companies which survive for a fraction of this time.
The paper integrates observations from two important research papers on the topic, and from the author’s own research.
Contrary to expectations, long-surviving firms are usually conservative about change, exploit their opportunities rather than explore more, diversify in relevant areas, and co-operate even with their competitors to live long.
To those companies that live long, age becomes a valuable resource in itself. Consumers see a continuous track record of a firm as a proxy for good quality, and long history can provide managers institutional memory to leverage toward further sustainability. “Long history” not only can provide anecdotes and stories to employees that exemplify the tacit core values of the firm but also, quite counter-intuitively, could be useful in transforming cultures and traditions.
implications Longevity challenge encompasses both continuity and change, but the experience filtered from many long-lived firms across the globe provides companies with insights that could inspire many more to live long and prosper.
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