The current Economist has an interesting article (subs only) about the oldest companies in the world. According to the article, the title-holder is a Japanese family business:
Kongo Gumi, founded by a Korean in Osaka in 578, is a builder of Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and castles–and now also offices, apartment buildings and private houses.
Here is the full list:
Interestingly, the consultancy Booz-Allen has come out with something parallel this week. The firm sponsored a project identifying ten of the world’s most “Enduring Institutions” over the past century. Here is a summary of Booz’s list along each of five dimensions:
Academic Institutions – Dartmouth College; Oxford University
Arts and Entertainment — The Modern Olympic Games; the Rolling Stones
Business and Commerce — General Electric; Sony
Government Institutions — American Constitution; International Telecommunication Union
Nonprofit Organizations — The Salvation Army; the Rockefeller Foundation
The upshot? A non-profit conglomerate based in Japan that taught higher education and was fronted by an aging, big-lipped Brit with a fondness of 60′s blues stands the best change of being the standards-bearer for having been “built to last”. You can thank me later.