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THE CORPORATE PERFORMANCE CONUNDRUM: A SYNTHESIS OF CONTEMPORARY VIEWS AND AN EXTENSION

P. Rajan Varadarajan and Vasudevan Ramanujam

Journal of Management Studies, 1990, vol. 27, issue 5, 463-483

Abstract: What characterizes superior organizational performance? The question has always fascinated practitioners and academic researchers, and a string of recent bestsellers attests to the current prominence of performance as an organizational issue. This article brings together recent perspectives on performance and provides some further conclusions of its own based on analysis of a new database. Articles on 74 companies rated by Business Month as being one of the five best‐managed companies during each of the 15 years in the 1972–86 timeframe were content analysed in an effort to isolate the key strategic and organizational factors associated with superior corporate performance. Results indicate that superior performance is associated with a broad product line accompanied by geographic diversity, an emphasis on planning coupled with sound financial controls and reporting systems, a high level of commitment to product and process innovation, investments in modernization of manufacturing facilities, a reputation for superior quality and customer service, and progressive human resource management practices. These findings are compared and contrasted with the conclusions of other recent studies and implications of the findings for management are discussed. Far from being the result of applying any particular formula, superior performance is found to require a diverse mix of competencies and values.

Date: 1990
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