by Professor Andre de Waal MBA (HPO Center)
Ever since the publication of Peters and Waterman’s landmark study In Search Of Excellence (1982) and the bestsellers Built To Last and Good to Great of Collins (1997, 2001), there has been a strong interest in identifying the characteristics of a high performance organizations (HPOs). This interest has been fired by the rapid changes in the competitive environment of companies and the pressure of ever increasing demands of the external environment and stakeholders. By identifying the characteristics of a high performance organizations, organizations hope to be able to improve themselves in a focus way so they can start achieving sustainable performance. This article describes the results of a meta analysis of 91 studies into high performance organizations (performed since 1992). The analysis yielded characteristics with regard to the organizational design, structure, processes, technology, leadership, people, and culture, and the external environment which seem to influence the ability of organizations to achieve high performance. These characteristics of a high performance organizations can guide managers as to which actions they need to take to lead their organizations to superior results.
INTRODUCTION: Characteristics of a High Performance Organization
In the wake of Peters and Waterman’s landmark study In Search Of Excellence (1982) and the bestsellers Built To Last (Collins and Porras, 1997) and Good to Great (Collins, 2001), there has been a strong interest in identifying the characteristics of a high performance organizations (HPOs). This interest has been fired by the rapid changes in the competitive environment of companies (Laudicina, 2005), forcing them to “adapt faster and faster to growing international demands for flexibility and speed and to compete simultaneously on the basis of development cycle time, price, quality, flexibility, fast and reliable delivery, and after-sales support for their products” (Kasarda and Rondinelli, 1998). As a result of the changes in industry and society, governmental agencies too are subject to changes. They have to rapidly reshape themselves into nimble and flexible organizations which put the interests of citizens central, a movement which is known as New Public Management (Zeppou and Sotirakou, 2002; Pollitt, 2003). This article describes the results of a meta analysis of HPO studies that have been published the past fifteen years in the literature. From the analysis several characteristics of a high performance organizations appear that seem to be decisive factors for achieving lasting good performance.
Basis for the meta analysis is an extensive search of both the scientific and popular management literature. Criteria for including studies in the analysis were…
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