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Article
Publication date: 18 February 2021

Carol M. Connell, Christine Lemyze and William L. McGill

Whether they support long-term growth companies, entrepreneurial firms or turnarounds, top teams need to make bold strategic investment choices in times of boom, bust or…

Abstract

Purpose

Whether they support long-term growth companies, entrepreneurial firms or turnarounds, top teams need to make bold strategic investment choices in times of boom, bust or pandemic. This paper aims to discuss firm strategies, as evidenced by their investment choices, over a 21-year period during which they led firms committed to growth through times of crisis and disruption.

Design/methodology/approach

The starting point for this research is Fortune magazine’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies, published in 2018 and updated in 2019. The list is based on the magazine’s ranking of the world’s top three-year performers in revenues, profits and stock returns for the four quarters preceding publication. Inclusion on the list is all about growth, not starting size (the smallest and not renown). The classification of firms by industry sector follows Fortune’s nomenclature. Comparing these firms with industry peers in the same period, the authors look at Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies of 2018 from the vantage point of their financials from 1999 to 2017, years that included the tech boom and bust, the mortgage meltdown and the Great Recession. This period also saw a relatively long expansion which was, paradoxically, punctuated by a trade war with China and recession fears that have impacted spending for growth. Only 32 of Fortune’s 2018 list made it to Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies of 2019. The authors call them the Persistent 32 and examine their investment and performance metrics from 2018 through 2020.

Findings

The Persistent 32 – companies that have survived multiple recessions, including the COVID-19 recession, and continue to grow – have lessons to teach, although there is no silver bullet or secret formula, even within the same industry. It was found that in the group of 32, the average company lifespan is 28.75 years and astute, decisive leadership matters. Companies that persist make unique, strategic resource choices. They postpone expenditures on marketing and sales, fixed assets or R&D or all three depending on their needs, rather than fit with industry. They continue to invest in future growth. Their people are not expendable: employee retention during a recession has been a familiar strategy for the top growers covered in this investigation throughout the period (1999–2020). They cut cost of goods and services produced (COGS). The Persistent 32, loathing the idea of cutting COGS in the face of earlier recessions or recessionary threats, are cutting expenses other than personnel expenditures now. Amazon, Nvidia, Stamps.com, Lam Research, Supernus Pharmaceuticals all continue to rein in costs while simultaneously reinvesting in growth. They communicate their concerns and plans to their constituents. These companies retained and grew headcount while communicating their safety program as well as work-from-home and social-distancing strategies to employees, customers, shareholders and elected officials during the COVID-19 recession of 2020. They plan for supply disruptions. All have already articulated their plans for supply disruptions or alternative sources. Both the Federal Government and semiconductor companies are looking to jump-start the development of new chip factories in the USA as concern grows about reliance on Asia as a source of critical technology. They sense, seize, transform. David Teece’s dynamic capabilities framework is still the best way to turn every black swan event into an opportunity for business based on newly immediate needs. They work remotely. Businesses that are growing despite the recession are already committed to remote work. Join them and take the high anxiety out of work for both employees and customers.

Research limitations/implications

The starting point for our research was Fortune magazine’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies, published in 2018 and updated in 2019. The list is based on the magazine’s ranking of the world’s top three-year performers in revenues, profits and stock returns for the four quarters preceding publication. Only 32 of Fortune’s 2018 list made it to Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies of 2019. The authors call them the Persistent 32 and examine their investment and performance metrics from 2018 through 2020. They sought answers to three questions: First, do the fastest growing firms invest heavily in their businesses during recessions? The authors looked at the 100 fastest growing companies from 1999 to 2017 and then the Persistent 32 from 2018 to 2020. Second, what happened to the investments and performance of the Persistent 32 during the pandemic and recession that began in the first quarter of 2020? Where did they invest or curtail investment, what plans did they make around COVID-19 and what headcount decisions did they make? Third, do growth-committed firms follow different investment strategies that can be categorized based on spending patterns?

Practical implications

Companies that can survive and grow through the hardest of times have lessons to teach, although there is no silver bullet or secret formula, even within the same industry.

Social implications

Employee retention during a recession has been a familiar strategy for the top growers covered in this investigation throughout the period (1999–2020). This strategy is not generally common among US firms. Indeed, it says something about the growth prospects of these firms and their dependence on talent and need to leverage their prior investment in recruiting and training employees.

Originality/value

What is important about this topic? Whatever the industry, trying times call for top teams to try harder, identify priorities, spend to achieve them, manage stakeholder expectations and protect and build their access to top talent. The authors can help with the last four: they set up a structure for analyzing firm spending and performance metrics, based on Gulati and others writing for business practitioners; they comb the evidence for spending and performance shifts in good times and bad from 1999 to 2020; they categorize firm strategies by spending patterns versus industry; they examine the findings for insights; and finally, the authors identify key actions that set still growing firms apart.

Details

Journal of Business Strategy, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0275-6668

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Abstract

Details

The Current Global Recession
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-157-9

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Book part
Publication date: 1 March 2016

Carolyn E. Predmore and Lauren Trabold

In much of the literature written in Sustainability and Environmental Justice, the focus is on the effects of government mismanagement or corporate social…

Abstract

Purpose

In much of the literature written in Sustainability and Environmental Justice, the focus is on the effects of government mismanagement or corporate social irresponsibility, or CSR ignored for the goal of greater profits. Certainly we have seen natural resources ripped from communities and nations for the benefit of corporate profits (Sarkar, 2013). The idea that a participatory government will lead to greater efforts for sustainability must be viewed in the light of its times and economy (Gonzalez-Perez, 2013). What happens when the man-made disaster precedes or clashes with natural disaster? The Great Recession of 2008 was stunning in the rapidity with which it spread around the globe. The recession illustrated a global acceptance of financial wisdom that had been presented as fact and yet could easily be undermined by people who understood the barriers, boundaries, and restrictions in place as well as where the financial assumptions could be deceived by introduction of new terms and definitions as in the case of credit default swaps.

In this chapter, we focus on the influence of the recession on one of the most powerful financial capitals of the world, New York City. We discuss the general effect of the recession on New York City as a whole and then take a narrower look at each of the five boroughs, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. We examine the disparate economic states of each borough and how the recession has impacted each of them. Furthermore, we discuss the implications of the general perception of Manhattan’s resilience to the recession and how is has impacted the other boroughs, such as the housing crisis in Staten Island and Queens following Hurricane Sandy, unemployment rates in the Bronx, and the rebuilding of a sustainable job market in Brooklyn.

Findings

We reviewed relevant literature, including academic research, reports issued by the State of New York, census data, articles printed in popular press outlets, and business resources to provide a thorough look at the influence of the Great Recession on New York City and each of its five boroughs. We found extensive support for the disparity amongst the five boroughs, despite the perception that New York City is thriving in the wake of the Great Recession and Hurricane Sandy. We detail the unique economic and environmental factors of each borough and explain how it influenced the impact of the Great Recession and subsequent natural disaster.

Manhattan was well insulated from the initial impact of the Great Recession, with tourism in the city remaining high through 2008 and financial firms on Wall Street experiencing record high profits well into 2009. Despite the downfall of Lehmann Brothers and Merrill Lynch, the financial bailouts and Federal Reserve credit available to Wall Street firms prevented Manhattan’s financial sector from experiencing the dramatic unemployment rates that the rest of New York and the United States were facing (DeFreitas, 2009).

The Great Recession hit disadvantaged areas, like the Bronx, harder than other areas of New York, while Hurricane Sandy halted the economic recovery in areas like Queens and Staten Island. While unemployment remains low in New York City as a whole, the recovery from the Great Recession has been uneven, further widening the gap between New York City’s boroughs, with the lower income areas at a greater disadvantage and the higher income areas souring. While Manhattan has recovered significantly, with Wall Street profits reaching record levels in 2009, other boroughs haven’t experienced the same economic upturn and are still facing significant challenges (Parrott, 2010). While the city has gained nearly 375,000 jobs, nearly twice the number of jobs that were lost during the Great Recession (Crain’s New York Business, 2013), the significant variance in wages and high costs of living has not greatly reduced the number of working poor across New York City and has not resulted in an evenly spread boost in wealth.

Practical implications

At the end of our chapter, we discuss “lessons learned” and, in particular, the importance of preparation for both fiscal and natural disasters. Local policy makers must ensure that the needs of its constituents are being met and will be met in the future if such hardship were to strike. Government leaders need to have a forward-looking plan, rather than simply handling immediate needs.

Originality/value

The originality of our content stems from a deeper look into the nuances of the economy of New York City. Statistics paint a picture of a thriving City, despite the Great Recession. However, understanding the distinct differences amongst the five boroughs illustrates that these citywide averages do not paint an accurate picture of life for New Yorkers off of Wall Street. The extent to which the high-income areas in Manhattan have recovered suggests that the economy of New York City as a whole is thriving, whereas the reality is that the middle-class has not recovered and the previously disadvantaged are now even more so. It is important to look at each of the five boroughs of New York City individually when creating policy to both recover from and prevent events such as the Great Recession and the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Our chapter illustrates stark differences within New York City in the face of both financial and natural crises.

Details

Lessons from the Great Recession: At the Crossroads of Sustainability and Recovery
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-743-1

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Book part
Publication date: 19 December 2017

Michael Wallace and Joonghyun Kwak

Using a sample of 214 US metropolitan areas, we examine the connection between the Great Recession and bad jobs, taking into consideration the macro-level determinants of…

Abstract

Using a sample of 214 US metropolitan areas, we examine the connection between the Great Recession and bad jobs, taking into consideration the macro-level determinants of the troubled economy. Our measure of bad jobs is derived from Kalleberg, Reskin, and Hudson’s (2000) conceptualization as those that have low pay, lack health insurance, and lack pension plans. We find that the Great Recession increased the prevalence of bad jobs, consistently for men and selectively for women. Among the macro-level processes, the decline of the manufacturing base, union membership, and public sector employment are sources of increasing bad jobs, especially for men. Those macro-level processes which are growing in influence such as casualization, globalization and financialization show no signs of reversing the negative trends in bad jobs. Human capital variables in the labor market such as educational and age variability consistently suggest more adverse effects on bad jobs for men than women. Our findings contribute to the further understanding of the nature of precarious work in a troubled economy.

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Book part
Publication date: 19 September 2014

Eirik Sjåholm Knudsen and Lasse B. Lien

The relevance of finance for strategy is probably never greater than during a recession. We argue that the strategy literature has been virtually silent on the issue of…

Abstract

The relevance of finance for strategy is probably never greater than during a recession. We argue that the strategy literature has been virtually silent on the issue of recessions, and that this constitutes a regrettable sin of omission. Recessions are also periods when the commonly held view of financial markets in the strategy literature – efficient, and therefore strategically irrelevant – is particularly misplaced. A key route to rectify this omission is to focus on how recessions affect investment behavior, and thereby firms’ stocks of assets and capabilities which ultimately will affect competitive outcomes. In the present chapter, we aim to contribute by analyzing how two key aspects of recessions, demand reductions and reductions in credit availability, affect three different types of investments: physical capital, R&D and innovation, and human- and organizational capital. We synthesize and conceptualize insights from finance- and macroeconomics about how recessions affect different types of investments and find that recessions not only affect the level of investment, but also the composition of investments. Some of these effects are quite counterintuitive. For example, investments in R&D are both more and less sensitive to credit constraints than physical capital is, depending on available internal finance. Investments in human capital grow as demand falls, and both R&D and human capital investments show important nonlinearities with respect to changes in demand.

Details

Finance and Strategy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-493-0

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Book part
Publication date: 8 February 2006

Marcelle Chauvet and James D. Hamilton

Abstract

Details

Nonlinear Time Series Analysis of Business Cycles
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-44451-838-5

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Book part
Publication date: 30 September 2010

Kajal Lahiri

With the increasing importance of the service-providing sectors, information from these sectors has become essential to the understanding of contemporary business cycles…

Abstract

With the increasing importance of the service-providing sectors, information from these sectors has become essential to the understanding of contemporary business cycles. Contribution of services to GDP during postwar recessions is clearly recorded in Table 4.1. On average, decline in real GDP during recessions would have been at least 70% more severe without the stabilization effect from services. Moore (1987) noted that the ability of the service sectors to create jobs has differentiated business cycles since the 1980s, and has led economy-wide recessions to be shorter and less severe. This is reflected as mild declines in employment of service sectors and its dominance in the total nonfarm employment, as plotted in Figure 4.1a. The growth in real GDP by major type of products obtained from National NIPA is depicted in Figure 4.1b. Since 1985, services never had a negative growth, which has muted the volatility in goods and structures, and resulted in more stable economy measured by total GDP (see also McConnell and Perez-Quiros, 2000).

Details

Transportation Indicators and Business Cycles
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-148-1

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Book part
Publication date: 7 September 2012

Liana Christin Landivar

Purpose – A central claim of the “added worker effect” is that married women increase their employment when husbands experience unemployment. This study evaluates the…

Abstract

Purpose – A central claim of the “added worker effect” is that married women increase their employment when husbands experience unemployment. This study evaluates the added worker effect in the context of the Great Recession. I examine whether married mothers increased their employment during the recession, and if the increase in employment occurred in households where the husband experienced unemployment.

Methodology/approach – I employ descriptive statistics and logistic regression models using 2006 and 2010 American Community Survey data.

Findings – I show that married mothers’ increased employment occurred in households that were less economically disadvantaged prior to the recession. The demand for married women's employment should have been stronger in households where men were employed in industries that were hard-hit by the recession. However, employment rates were lower among women married to men with lower earnings who were employed in the industries with the highest unemployment.

Social implications – These results show that women are not equally able to respond to husbands’ unemployment. Women with lower levels of education and lacking in job experience may be unable to obtain a job in a tight labor market. This may account for some of the household economic polarization and concentration of poverty in the last recession.

Originality/value of paper – Recent studies suggest that couples may be able to make up for spousal unemployment by increasing labor supply of other household members. However, these results indicate that the households that have the greatest need for additional workers may be those that have the most difficulty securing employment.

Details

Economic Stress and the Family
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-978-3

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Book part
Publication date: 9 November 2009

Roberto Moro Visconti

The global recession has strongly affected the credibility of the international banking system, damaging also the real economy.Developing countries, not fully integrated…

Abstract

The global recession has strongly affected the credibility of the international banking system, damaging also the real economy.

Developing countries, not fully integrated with international markets, seem less affected and local microfinance institutions might also allow for a further shelter against recession, even if foreign support is slowing down and collection of international capital is harder and more expensive.

Intrinsic characteristics of microfinance, such as closeness to the borrowers, limited risk and exposure and little if any correlation with international markets have an anti-cyclical effect. In hard and confused times, it pays to be little, flexible and simple.

Details

Credit, Currency, or Derivatives: Instruments of Global Financial Stability Or crisis?
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-601-4

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Book part
Publication date: 12 June 2017

Mike Vuolo, Christopher Uggen and Sarah Lageson

This paper tests whether employers responded particularly negatively to African American job applicants during the deep U.S. recession that began in 2007. Theories of…

Abstract

This paper tests whether employers responded particularly negatively to African American job applicants during the deep U.S. recession that began in 2007. Theories of labor queuing and social closure posit that members of privileged groups will act to minimize labor market competition in times of economic turbulence, which could advantage Whites relative to African Americans. Although social closure should be weakest in the less desirable, low-wage job market, it may extend downward during recessions, pushing minority groups further down the labor queue and exacerbating racial inequalities in hiring. We consider two complementary data sources: (1) a field experiment with a randomized block design and (2) the nationally representative NLSY97 sample. Contrary to expectations, both analyses reveal a comparable recession-based decline in job prospects for White and African American male applicants, implying that hiring managers did not adapt new forms of social closure and demonstrating the durability of inequality even in times of structural change. Despite this proportionate drop, however, the recession left African Americans in an extremely disadvantaged position. Whites during the recession obtained favorable responses from employers at rates similar to African Americans prior to the recession. The combination of experimental methods and nationally representative longitudinal data yields strong evidence on how race and recession affect job prospects in the low-wage labor market.

Details

Emerging Conceptions of Work, Management and the Labor Market
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-459-0

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