In The Living Company, the man who introduced the revolutionary concept of the learning organization has turned his attention to identifying the critical characteristics of organizational longevity. Arie de Geus reveals the keys to managing for a long and prosperous organizational life. He draws a sharp distinction between "living companies, " the purpose of which is to fulfill their potential and perpetuate themselves as ongoing communities, and "economic companies, " which are in business solely to produc wealth for a small group of individuals. He shows clearly that living companies manage for survival; economic companies manage for profit. With nearly 40 years of experience at Royal Dutch/Shell, where he was involved firsthand with implementing the renowned scenario planning technique, de Geus describes how he came to explore and understand the special qualities of living companies. Among a wide array of important factors, long-lived companies have four essential traits in common.
At a minimum, these firms are sensitive to their environment in order to learn and adapt; cohesive, with a strong sense of identity; tolerant of unconventional thinking and experimentation; and conservative in financial policy to retain the resources that allow for flexibility.
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(233mm x 155mm x 19mm)
Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
De Geus delves into the biology, anthropology and psychology of business and suggests ways to increase the life expectancy of a company from the typical 12.5 years to as long as two to three centuries. The secret? No longer should a company be considered as a collection of capital assets on a balance sheet, but rather as an entity of human assets. Top management will have to view their companies as human beings, concentrating on the optimization of human resources and shift from capitalist thinking to knowledge creation ability. From his research into corporate longevity, De Geus suggests four characteristics that underpin all truly living companies: They are sensitive to their environment, they are cohesive with a strong sense of identity, they are tolerant of experimentation and unconventional thinking, and they are conservative in financial policy. This is a highly readable, thought-provoking book which gives a new meaning and emphasis to the concept of organizational learning. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Arie P. De Geus
Arie de Geus worked for Royal Dutch/Shell for thirty-eight years and is widely credited with originating the concept of the learning organization. Since his retirement, he has advised many government and private institutions and has lectured throughout the world.