The Real “Built to Last” List

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.

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