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In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-run Companies [Hardcover]

Thomas J. Peters , Robert H. Waterman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Nov 1982

The "Greatest Business Book of All Time" (Bloomsbury UK), In Search of Excellence has long been a must-have for the boardroom, business school, and bedside table.

Based on a study of forty-three of America's best-run companies from a diverse array of business sectors, In Search of Excellence describes eight basic principles of management -- action-stimulating, people-oriented, profit-maximizing practices -- that made these organizations successful.

This phenomenal bestseller features a new Authors' Note, and reintroduces these vital principles in an accessible and practical way for today's management reader.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; First Edition edition (1 Nov 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060150424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060150426
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Required reading (International Management Magazine)

A landmark book, without question the most important and useful book on what makes organisations effective, ever written (Warren Buffet)

One of those rare books on management that is both consistently thought-provoking and fun to read (Wall Street Journal) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover


American know-how is alive and well and growing stronger daily. 'In Search Of Excellence' distills the art and science of management used by leading companies with records of long-term profitability and continuing innovation. No one concerned with international business today can afford not to read what makes leading US corporations successful.

“One of those rare books on management”

“Required reading”

“Best-seller that is wowing them in American boardrooms”

“Receiving serious attention in business schools and corporate boardrooms”

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE lays much of the groundwork for anyone interested in studying management. Tom Peters presents most of the concepts which have become almost by-laws of organizatonal behavior and managerial theory, and on which most of his subsequent work is based e.g. success through failure, innovation through entrepreneurship, management by walk about, customer and employee orientation. The best part of the book are the numerous fascinating anecdotes which Mr. Peters relates from his research into the practises of legendary companies and their leaders. At times, the book might seem outdated in its applicability to the current organizational structure, but it remains a seminal work in management excellence theory, and is a book for the ages.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Life (and business) are a lot more fun if we are excited and committed to what we are doing. This book reawakens our sense that organizations can be exciting and meaningful places to be, filled with the potential for great results and enormous impact. We all have been touched by an outstanding leader and inspired to do more. Most of us would have a hard time spelling out what those leaders do. This book is a very practical guide to being a good example and a source of daily inspiration. You can read other books to figure out what to inspire people to do specifically and so forth, but this one is unique. You may find that you do not "get" a particular recommendation. To deepen your understanding, I recommend that you read A PASSION FOR EXCELLENCE in those areas where you are unmoved or unclear. It is filled with examples on the same points as IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE. I also like the title. Finding excellence is a never-ending task for us all. If you want to read a terrific book on how successful companies differ from their less successful competitors, be sure to read BUILT TO LAST. It is also a great companion for IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellence revisited 19 July 2005
By Niklas Kari VINE VOICE
In Search of Excellence has been credited to have started the so-called management guru business. Written in 1982 it is the first book that aims to explain company success in a popularized way. Subsequent books on the subject are, for instance, Competitive Advantage (Porter, 1985) and, more recently, Good to Great (Collins, 2001). I gave the book three stars, but in that assessment I have tried to consider that the book is old and business knowledge has evolved ever since - yet the book is a seminal piece of work. If the book would have been written more recently, it probably would have given one or two stars to it.
Based on a major McKinsey study, In Search of Excellence identifies eight characteristics common for excellent companies: (1) a bias for action, (2) close to the customer, (3) autonomy and entrepreneurship, (4) productivity through people, (5) hands-on, value-driven, (6) stick to the knitting, (7) simple form, lean staff, and (8) simultaneous loose-tight properties. Personally, I don't find this set of characteristics very surprising or insightful - it would be difficult to imagine a financially excellently performing company that doesn't get things done, doesn't care about customers, is excessively bureaucratic and so forth. Moreover, some of these characteristics are at most directionally true such as "stick to the knitting" (consider e.g. GE - which btw. was part of the book's sample).
Nevertheless, In Search of Excellence provides interesting examples and a lot of good practical advice. I have to admit, though, that for me many of the examples were tedious reading as they represented often quite outdated issues. What I liked most in the book was the theory. Peters and Waterman have succeeded in picking up theory that mostly has stand the test of time.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The eight essential basics of excellent companies 29 July 2003
Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. were consultants with McKinsey & Co. when this book was published in 1982. This book shot both authors into management guru-dom and is still one of the greatest management bestsellers ever. Both authors have written other books, but none have come close to this one.
In this book, the authors report on the findings from the excellent companies: "It will define what we mean by excellence. It is an attempt to generalize about what the excellent companies seem to be doing that the rest are not, and to buttress our observations on the excellent companies with sound social and economic theory." The authors' research started in 1977 when two internal task forces at McKinsey & Co. were set up to research a general concern with the problems of management effectiveness, and a particular concern with the nature of the relationship between strategy, structure, and management effectiveness. One of these task forces was to review thinking on strategy, the other was to review thinking on organizational effectiveness. Peters and Waterman were the leaders of the project on organizational effectiveness. Their research involved talking extensively with executives around the world and extensive literature reviews. Initially they worked mainly on the problem of expanding our diagnostic and remedial kit beyond the traditional tools for business problem solving, which then concentrated on strategy and structural approaches. This resulted in the now well-renowned 7-S framework (structure, strategy, systems, shared values, skills, style, and staff). "But there was still something missing. ... we were shore on practical design ideas, especially for the 'soft S's'." So the authors decided to look at management excellence itself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is a book I bought for my knowledge improvement which I paid almost nothing for and serves the purpose I need it for, a must read book
Published 4 months ago by Jeffrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant classic
I bought this book as it was recommended reading from some other more recent paper on strategy and I'm really pleased with it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by CHARPY Matthieu
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book
Gives a very practical guide and information about forms of management and also strategy. Essential for anyone in business. A must have.
Published 19 months ago by SAMUEL TABI
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed, was researching for
I was doing some research for my new company ([...]) and it was really quite a solid book. FairSetup is a novel way to do performance management - effectively a performance... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Nikita V. Bernstein
5.0 out of 5 stars a!
fascinating and to the point. a must read. loads of stories and examples to drive home the message. recommend to anyone interested in management
Published on 27 Jan 2012 by rebbe
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account but slightly outdated
This is a fascinating account of the state of US' business in the early 1980s. It is slightly outdated but includes some interesting concepts. Read more
Published on 20 Jan 2012 by Melvin
4.0 out of 5 stars In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-run Companies
IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE - Lessons from America's Best-run Companies which challenges "rationalism" but did not reject orthodox model was written by two eminently qualified... Read more
Published on 9 May 2011 by Iyke Ozemena
4.0 out of 5 stars Small was beautiful in 1982, and it still is today!
I learnt a lot from this book, particularly about the age-old discussion of centralisation vs decentralisation, and I think it's as least as relevant now as it was in 1982, if not... Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2011 by Maarten de Vries
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, entertaining story. Lousy method
I became interested in organisational leadership when I changed jobs about two years ago. I started pondering the question, Why is one company 'better' at bringing out the best in... Read more
Published on 20 Sep 2009 by A. O. P. Akemu
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic work on striving for corporate excellence
This book presents the results of a research project that authors Tom Peters and Robert Waterman conducted from 1979 to 1980. Read more
Published on 11 July 2008 by Rolf Dobelli
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