Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Wisdom of Shinise

"Strength from living over 100 years"

Following are some of the results of research from my colleague, Makoto Kanda from Meiji Gakuin University in Japan. In 2009 he sent surveys to nearly 3,000 small to medium-sized companies that were over 100 years old (exculding those with less than 10 employees) and received responses from 500 (a 16.8% response rate). These companies were spread over various industres: 37% wholesale, 34% manufacturing, 12% construction, 12% retail, and 5% services.

Kanda uncovered three factors, which he calls the "three sacred principles of Shinise." These are:
1. Credo: Most companies have a strong sense of corporate vision and values, often established by the founding family. Half of the companies had a written credo and others passed it on verbally.
2. Family ownership and control: Not only were almost all shinise privately-owned companies, over 80% were still owned and run by the founding family! Only 10% did not have any ownership or management involvment by the founding family.
3. Continuity of business, company name and brand: Though most companies have diversified their business, their traditional business still remained (more than 60% have retained their orignial line of business); 40% of the companies have made no changes in company name or brands for more than 100 years, 30% have changed one but not the other, and only 30% have changed both their company name and the brand name under which they do business.

Kanda goes into detail on what practices make up these three factors, which I will explain at a later date.

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