One of my students made a presentation last week on corporate cultures. His literature search was trying to find out if there were cultural behaviors that led to a company being more successful. So far he hadn't found any specific behaviors, though some literature does indicate certain generic cultures seem to lead to more company success over the long term than others. He's still working on it (the paper isn't due for two weeks). But his presentation reminded me that there has been research on very old companies which identifies some common behaviors that would appear to help these organizations survive for the long term. Though these studies were done mostly on very large, publicly-owned companies (only the Japanese study included small-to-medium sized, private companies), they did uncover some similar results:
1. The presence of a strong core ideology, corporate culture and values (Collins and Porras, Iwasaki and Kanda, de Gues, and Stadler)
2. The ability to drive for change while protecting these core values (Collins and Porras, Iwasaki and Kanda, de Gues, Stadler)
3. Conservative business practices (de Gues, Stadler)
In the next phase of my research, I plan to survey U.S. 100-year-old companies (regardless of size, industry or ownership) to see if similar items are identified.