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Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose Hardcover – February 10, 2007

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Editorial Reviews



About the Author

Rajendra S. Sisodia

Raj is professor of marketing and founding director of the Center for Marketing Technology at Bentley College. He has a Ph.D. in marketing and business policy from Columbia University. He has published nearly 100 articles in journals such as Harvard Business Review, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Business Strategy, Journal of Business Research, and many others. He also writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal. His research, teaching, and consulting expertise spans the areas of strategic marketing, marketing productivity, marketing ethics, and stakeholder-based marketing. In 2003, he was cited as one of “50 Leading Marketing Thinkers” by the U.K.-based Chartered Institute of Marketing. Raj consults with and provides executive seminars for companies in various industries. Clients have included Sprint, Volvo, and IBM, to name a few. He coauthored The Rule of Three (Free Press, 2002) with Jag Sheth. Other recent books include Tectonic Shift: The Geoeconomic Realignment of Globalizing Markets (Sage Publications, 2006) and Does Marketing Need Reform? (M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2006), both with Jag Sheth. Forthcoming books include The 4A’s of Marketing and Marketing Management (John Wiley & Sons), also with Jag Sheth.


David B. Wolfe

David is an internationally recognized customer behavior expert in middle-age and older markets. He is the author of Serving the Ageless Market (McGraw-Hill, 1990) and more recently Ageless Marketing: Strategies for Connecting with the Hearts and Minds of the New Customer Majority (Dearborn Publishing, 2003). David’s consulting assignments have taken him to Asia, Africa, Europe, and throughout North America. He is widely published in publications in the United States and abroad. He has consulted to numerous Fortune 100 companies, including American Express, AT&T, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Hartford Insurance, Marriott, MetLife, Prudential Securities, and Textron.


Jagdish N. Sheth

Jag is the Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing in the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. He has published 26 books, more than 200 articles, and is nationally and internationally known for his scholarly contributions in consumer behavior, relationship marketing, competitive strategy, and geopolitical analysis. His book The Rule of Three (Free Press, 2002), coauthored with Raj Sisodia, has altered current notions on competition in business. This book has been translated into five languages and was the subject of a seven-part television series by CNBC Asia. Jag’s list of consulting clients around the world is long and impressive, including AT&T, GE, Motorola, Whirlpool, and 3M, to name just a few. He is frequently quoted and interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fortune, Financial Times, and radio shows and television networks such as CNN, Lou Dobbs, and more. He is also on the board of directors of several public companies. In 2004, he was honored with the two highest awards bestowed by the American Marketing Association: the Richard D. Irwin Distinguished Marketing Educator Award and the Charles Coolidge Parlin Award.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (February 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131873725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131873728
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What is a Firm of Endearment? The authors argue that their example companies share a common set of core values, policies, and operating attributes which include:

1. aligning the interests of all stakeholder groups (customers, employees, partners, investors, and society) rather than seeking profit optimization

2. below-average executive compensation

3. open-door policies

4. employee compensation and benefits are above average for their industry

5. above-average employee training

6. empower employees to satisfy customers

7. hire employees who are passionate about the company's purpose

8. humanize customer and employee experiences

9. enjoy below-average marketing costs

10. honor the spirit as well as the letter of laws

11. focus on corporate culture as a competitive advantage

12. are often innovative in their industries

Companies identified include extensive examples drawn from Commerce Bank, Container Store, Costco, Harley-Davidson, Honda, IDEO, IKEA, jetBlue, Johnson & Johnson, Jordan's Furniture, New Balance, Patagonia, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Timberland, Toyota, Trader Joe's, UPS, Wegmans, and Whole Foods.

These companies are often contrasted with Wal-Mart and the Good to Great Companies identified by Jim Collins in 2001 in terms of stock price growth.

The authors argue that there is a new level of consciousness emerging that rewards those who do good while doing well. The implication is that all firms should shift to stakeholder optimization and the cultural values identified in the example companies.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Parry on January 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book outlines a possible shift in the way people are thinking about their roles and purpose within the companies they work. Basically people are seeking more 'meaning' from their work and as a result companies are changing their basic assumptions and approaches in the field of people management.

The authors assert that changes in demographics, consumer knowledge and an ageing population (which is working longer) is moderating the effects of Hard Capitalism, which favoured shareholders, and introducing a more egalitarian form of Capitalism which favours all stake holders.

The theory is highly seductive and desirable, but the book did not provide any strong evidence to support these claims. They provide plenty of stories and examples to illustrate the theory in action, but it should not be presented as supporting evidence without considering those organisations that also have these 'Enlightened' traits but were nevertheless unsuccessful.

In addition it is not clear which form of employee policy comes first, could it be that only when a company is successful can it treat its employees better with higher wages and enlightened thinking? or will higher wages and an enlightened policy make a company successful?

This book provides a theory which you wish were true, but wishing does not make it so.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Torrey K. Byles on January 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Overall, the authors overstate their case. It may be true that capitalism has entered a period of soul searching unparalleled since Adam Smith (p. 4). I believe it has. But the authors have not identified the elements of it, despite their claim that it is embodied in these firms of endearment. There is more going on with the soul of capitalism than what appears on these authors' radar screen.

I like how the authors frame the new elements and facets of a firm of endearment, in terms of Maslow, Fromm and Erikson - the human potentialists and transpersonalists par excellence. Yet, I am surprised that they conveniently ignore much of the work of these same psychologists regarding society and capitalism, esp. Fromm's. The very conditions of a market society preclude self actualization, according to Fromm. To use, for example, Fromm's principle of "a being society" to support their thesis is disingenuous. Sisodia et al only use the parts of human potential psychology that fit their materialist-positivist, neo-liberal perspective. It is white wash and a co-opting, e.g. "heart share." Heart share with soulfulness would result in profits being secondary. But Sisodia et al are making profits primary and seeking ways to "use" heart share as a means to gain those profits. It is positivism at best, exploitation at worst.

To think, as the authors do, that the cultures of Whole Foods, Southwest Air, Trader Joes and the others mentioned, are the paradigms of the new soul of capitalism is incomplete and misguided. At best, it is an expropriating of nicey nice terms that evoke what everyone wants, but superficially ignores root dynamics.
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Format: Hardcover
According to the authors, a Firm of Endearment or FoE is a company whose decisions are made with the social consequences in mind. This runs contrary to what many people consider to be the fundamental principles of capitalism, which is to maximize your value at all costs within the acceptable legal, moral and ethical bounds. The authors demonstrate that many companies are achieving better growth than the "hard-core capitalists" by actively considering the overall consequences of their actions. In fact, some of the most telling passages are quotes from the hard-cores about how foolish the behavior of the FoE's is. This is then followed by data demonstrating that the performance of the companies run by the hard-cores is dwarfed by the FoE's. In some cases, those who proclaim an increase in shareholder value to be the pinnacle of success run companies where the stock price has declined during their tenure.

There have been problems with capitalism and the corporations since both were first invented. In the late nineteenth century, business leaders were known as robber barons and it took government action to break up the trusts. In retrospect this was an excellent action as it allowed the free market to emerge from the previous one controlled by the powerful.

At the start of the twenty-first century we have a global economy and major threats from global warming. Capitalism also needs to change to reflect the new reality. The authors of this book show that the latest version of the robber barons that get enormous salaries for mediocre performance are a fading breed. The best new corporations have passion, heart and a sense of the common purpose of humanity. Not only are they the kind of people that you would want to have over for dinner, but they are also some of the best run and most profitable businesses. This book should be required reading in all introduction to business courses.
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