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German business consultant Simon suggests that there is much to learn from studying the practices of lesser-known companies that have quietly succeeded in unique or specialized market niches. Because Simon is based in Bonn, most--but not all--of his examples are German. They all are, however, relatively unknown, small or midsize, and worldwide leaders in their markets, making mundane products, such as bottle-labeling machines, model railways, incense, potting soil, and museum display cases. Using secondary sources, printed company materials, a mailed questionnaire, and personal interviews, Simon discovered that these companies grow slowly, compete in stable markets, are long-lived, tend to be family owned or closely held, and prefer to shun publicity to avoid attracting competition. They also concentrate on developing their own specialties, avoiding such currently popular management practices as diversification, strategic alliances, and outsourcing. Simon's findings run counter to much of what today's management literature advocates, and they should attract attention!David Rouse
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ISBN-10:  0875846521
ISBN-13:  978-0875846521
Author:  Hermann Simon
Publisher:  Harvard Business School Press
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review by . January 12, 2000
What can be learned from 500 German companies, most of which you have probably never heard of? Actually, a great deal. The book is Hidden Champions and ts author is Hermann Simon. He explains that his book "reveals the secrets of success of the best of the best unknown companies." They are unknown, for the most part, because that's the way they want it. They "relish their obscurity. They shy away from publicity, some through explicit policies of not dealing with the press --or, by the way, with …
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