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Two University of Wisconsin Oshkosh business professors have challenged the best-selling book “Good to Great” in a paper published in the November 2008 issue of the Academy of Management Perspectives.

“Good to Great” has been on Business Week’s best-seller list since its October 2001 release. In “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins identified 11 firms as great, then used them to derive five management principles he believed led to “sustained great results.”

Drs. Bruce Niendorf and Kristine Beck contend that due to two fatal errors, “Good to Great” provides no evidence that applying the five principles to other firms or time periods will lead to anything other than average results.

The authors explain the two errors and provide empirical tests to support their contention. When ranked with the 2006 Fortune 500, the 11 “Good to Great” firms have an average ranking of 202nd. In fact, one of the 11 “Good to Great” firms, Circuit City, recently filed for bankruptcy.

In addition, in terms of long-term stock return performance, the “Good to Great” firms do not differ significantly from the average returns of the S&P 500. The evidence suggests that although the “Good to Great” firms may be good, they aren’t great.

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