Business strategy and firm performance: the British corporate economy, 1949-1984
There has been considerable and ongoing debate about the performance of the British economy since 1945. Empirical studies have concentrated on aggregate or industry level indicators. Few have examined individual firms’ financial performance. This study takes a sample of c.3000 firms in 19 industries and identifies Britain’s best performing companies over a period of 35 years. Successful companies are defined as a) those that survive as independent entities, b) that outperform peer group average return to capital for that industry, and c) that outperform other firms in the economy according to return on capital relative to industry average. Results are presented as league tables of success and some tentative explanations offered concerning the common strategies of successful firms. A broader research agenda for British business history is suggested.
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