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Corporate Culture and Performance Hardcover – April 7, 1992


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition, 3rd printing edition (April 7, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029184673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029184677
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

An attention-grabbing audit by two Harvard Business School professors of the role that culture (broadly defined as the shared attitudes, behavioral patterns, and values that cohesive human groups pass on from one generation to the next) can play in the capacity of major corporations to succeed or fail in the marketplace. The accessible study compiled by Kotter and Heskett is noteworthy on several counts. For one thing, it is based on empirical rather than anecdotal evidence, gathered from a canvass of more than 200 blue-chip enterprises in 22 industries, covering an 11-year span through 1990. For another, the authors measure performance against such valid bench marks as annual growth in net income, average returns on invested capital, and appreciation in stock prices. Last but not least, they refuse to advance a one- size-fits-all theory. While willing to state that corporate culture can have a significant impact on a company's reported results over the longer term, Kotter and Heskett caution that there's as much art as science in evaluating its contribution. Indeed, they assert that cultures adequate for one economic context may prove disastrous in another--as can those identifiable as arrogant, bureaucratic, and/or insular. The authors point out, for example, that K mart's lack of a customer-service ethos cost it dearly in competition with Wal-Mart. What's really needed, they argue, is an adaptive culture that automatically aligns an organization's interests with those of employees, investors, patrons, and other key constituencies. Drawing on case studies from their four-year research program, Kotter and Heskett outline practical ways in which top-down direction can motivate corporate personnel to pursue this objective. Down-to-earth analyses and advisories from authors who grasp the substantive differences between leadership and management. The reader-friendly text has a wealth of helpful tabular material throughout. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Review

Thomas N. Urban Chairman and President, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. Having passed through five years of significant change in a sixty-five year old company, I found the dissection of the relationship between culture and performance fascinating. It will provide an intellectual framework for even more detailed analysis of specific situations. -- Review

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Duane Schermerhorn on April 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Most popular and influential books on business management present the highly personal observations, interpretations, opinions, and conclusions of the author. The author's tenets - often in the form of a "newly discovered" business trend or critical success factor that business executives can ignore only at their own peril - seem objective and impersonal because they are supported by real-world examples that provide strong evidence in their support. Examples that do not support the premise are conveniently ignored or dealt with in a cursory, simplistic manner.
Basically, these books are the result of sharp minds drawing conclusions from their own experience. This approach is certainly valuable and has contributed many valuable ideas about the various means of improving business performance - and probably many more faulty notions that have led management up the garden path.
John Kotter and James Heskett's "Corporate Culture and Performance" sits at the other end of the spectrum from this norm. The book is in effect a report on their scientific investigations of a hypothesis. The authors set out a number of hypotheses and then test them against the hard data of long-term business performance. In doing so, they present solid insights into some of the conventional wisdom spouted by management consultants and authors of business books.
The fundamental source of their hypothesis is the question "What is the relationship between corporate culture and business performance?" The fruits of their research yield important observations on the nature of this relationship.
The authors' well-structured research study, and their sharp analytical abilities permit them to trek deep into the jungle of issues surrounding corporate culture.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey L. Seglin on January 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you buy into the argument that the only responsibility of a business is to its stockholders and that paying attention to areas outside of this will result in a lesser-performing company, the research of two Harvard Business School professors suggests just the opposite. John Kotter and James Heskett studied the performance of 207 large firms over an 11-year period. They wrote of their findings:
"Corporate culture can have a significant impact on a firm's long-term economic performance. We found that firms with cultures that emphasized all the key managerial constituencies (customers, stockholders, and employees) and leadership from managers at all levels outperformed firms that did not have those cultural traits by a huge margin. Over an eleven-year period, the former increased revenues by an average of 682 percent versus 166 percent for the latter, expanded their work forces by 282 percent versus 36 percent, grew their stock prices by 901 percent versus 74 percent, and improved their net incomes by 756 percent versus 1 percent."
Consider that final finding again: The companies that paid attention equally to customers, stockholders, and employees outperformed those that didn't in growth of net income over the 11-year period by a factor of 756. Paying attention to more than just returning profits to stockholders can have a huge payoff.
Heskett and Kotter's research presented in this book is important reading for anyone tracking company performance in relation to its culture.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eric Kassan VINE VOICE on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, while very academic, gives a solid understanding of several theories about corporate culture and its effects on performance (both short-term and long-term). Rather than starting out with an agenda, they studied hundreds of companies taking analyst's and insider's opinions for information about the culture and then looked at the results. Probably the best finding was that the most successful cultures were those that valued all three interests- customers, shareholders, and employees- consistently.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey L. Seglin on February 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you buy into the argument that the only responsibility of a business is to its stockholders and that paying attention to areas outside of this will result in a lesser-performing company, the research of two Harvard Business School professors suggests just the opposite. John Kotter and James Heskett studied the performance of 207 large firms over an 11-year period. They wrote of their findings:
"Corporate culture can have a significant impact on a firm's long-term economic performance. We found that firms with cultures that emphasized all the key managerial constituencies (customers, stockholders, and employees) and leadership from managers at all levels outperformed firms that did not have those cultural traits by a huge margin. Over an eleven-year period, the former increased revenues by an average of 682 percent versus 166 percent for the latter, expanded their work forces by 282 percent versus 36 percent, grew their stock prices by 901 percent versus 74 percent, and improved their net incomes by 756 percent versus 1 percent."
Consider that final finding again: The companies that paid attention equally to customers, stockholders, and employees outperformed those that didn't in growth of net income over the 11-year period by a factor of 756. Paying attention to more than just returning profits to stockholders can have a huge payoff.
Heskett and Kotter's research presented in this book is important reading for anyone tracking company performance in relation to its culture.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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