In Search of Excellence

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

An outgrowth of research conducted at a management-consulting firm, this book became a highly successful best-seller. It depicts the quintessence of American enterprise, sixty-two companies in all areas of business which have continually demonstrated outstanding qualities that separate them from all others. The excellent corporations were identified through a twenty-five-year review of company profiles, successful business results, and interviews.

Eight characteristics were identified as common traits among the superior companies. These included: 1) a drive for action, decision-making, and getting the job done; 2) an emphasis on serving the customer and providing quality and reliability; 3) providing an atmosphere to foster creative thinking and product innovation; 4) respecting and treating every employee as an important contributor; 5) maintaining the basic philosophy of the company; 6) operating businesses with which management is familiar; 7) keeping top-level staffs very simple; and 8) decentralizing and centralizing certain functions.

The overriding characteristics were a strong commitment to human resources and a propensity to spur innovation and new product development. This was coupled with a demonstrated long-term approach to business endeavors and a commitment from the top that permeated throughout the company to provide quality products and services.

The book has been used in graduate and undergraduate courses and in management seminars. It sparked numerous follow-up articles in business periodicals and a one-hour program aired on the Public Broadcasting Service. Clearly written and well-researched, the book is a significant study of American business and productivity.