How Japanese companies live long

Kim Gittleson at BBC News takes a look at the decreasing average lifespan of top US companies, which among those listed in the S&P 500 is 15 years, down from 67 years in the 1920s. In Japan, there are still many old companies,1 and one of the factors leading to their longevity is something we can all learn from:

Professor Makoto Kanda, who has studied shinise [the Japanese word for “long-lived companies”] for decades, says that Japanese companies can survive for so long because they are small, mostly family-run, and because they focus on a central belief or credo that is not tied solely to making a profit.

  1. The article bases the decrease in average company lifespans on the top companies in the US, while providing the metric of “more than 20,000 companies that are more than 100 years old, with a handful that are more than 1,000 years old” for Japan. There’s no mention of the lifespan of Japan’s top companies, nor of the US’s total number of long-lived companies, so the article doesn’t effectively compare the two countries. 

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