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The 4C Advantage

Authors: Miller, Danny; Le Breton-Miller, Isabelle

Date: Second Quarter 2015

Tags: SME, 4C, Continuity, Community, Connection

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For smaller companies that lack the liquidity and the economies of scale and scope enjoyed by large corporations, planning long into the future may seem like a luxury -- but longevity is possible. For inspiration, the authors draw on research they have done on SMEs around the world -- from North America to Europe to South Korea -- many of which are family businesses. The best performers pursued what they call "the 4C's" of Continuity, Community, Connection and Command, turning these features into sources of distinction and competitive advantage. The 4C principles can also find expression in your own firm, large or small, family owned or not, so that your business can likewise flourish for generations.

Tools and Frameworks:
> "Are You a Grasshopper or an Ant?" uses Aesop's fable to illustrate two opposite approaches to work and planning ahead that you should measure your business against.
> "4C Priorities & Practices" highlights the factors that will make a big difference to your long-term performance, no matter the size of your firm.

Examples Cited:
Mittelstand, The New York Times, Ochs/Sulzberger family, Timken Company, Michelin, South Korean SMEs, Bechtel, Tetra Pak, Corning, Wal-Mart, S.C. Johnson

Research Basis:
Based on decades of empirical work the authors have done on SMEs around the world -- from North America to Europe to South Korea -- as well as research for their book, Managing for the Long Run.

About the Authors:

Danny Miller is Research Professor of Strategic Management at HEC Montreal, and Chair in Strategy and Family Enterprise at the University of Alberta.

Isabelle Le Breton-Miller is Associate Professor of Management and Chair of Succession and Family Enterprise at HEC Montreal, and is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Alberta.

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