The Living Company
by Arie De Geus
In The Living Company, Arie de Geus reveals the keys to managing an organization for a long and prosperous life. He draws a sharp contrast between “living companies,” the purpose of which is to fulfill their potential and perpetuate themselves as ongoing communities, and “economic companies,” which are in business solely to produce wealth for a small group of individuals. De Geus contends that living companies manage for survival; economic companies manage for profit. Among a wide array of important factors, long-lived companies have four essential traits in common. At a minimum, these firms are sensitive to their environment in order to learn and adapt; cohesive, with a strong sense of identity; tolerant of unconventional thinking and experimentation; and conservative in financial policy to retain the resources that allow for flexibility. “The Living Company” is worthwhile to leaders at all levels.