Corporate Heritage: A Competitive Advantage for CompaniesA STUDY BY ELISABETTA MERLO AND MARIO PERUGINI PLACES SIGNIFICANT VALUE ON THE UNIQUE INHERITANCE THAT EVERY COMPANY RECEIVES FROM ITS PAST
In an age when entrepreneurs are often described as innovators and disrupters, a project by Elisabetta Merlo and Mario Perugini (Department of Social and Political Sciences) highlights the importance of corporate heritage. This is the unique and inimitable legacy that every company receives from its past.
It can be promoted through the opening of archives to the public or through museums, foundations, jubilee volumes, campaigns that revive old products and brands, such as for example Fiat 500. The project is conducted in collaboration with the AUB Observatory on Italian Family Companies (AIDAF, UniCredit and Bocconi). It led to the construction of a data set on corporate heritage investments of 862 Italian firms with a turnover of at least 50 million in 2000-2016. As Mario Perugini explains, “one of our many goals is to understand the drivers of investment in corporate heritage, in relation to the ownership and governance”.
Researchers asked themselves whether family businesses are more likely to invest in corporate history, as the qualitative literature suggests. “According to preliminary results, the investment in corporate heritage is a lever used more by external managers than by members of the founding family”, Elisabetta Merlo says. There is another unexpected fact, namely firm performance: the history leverage is used most frequently by firms with dismal economic results in the previous five-year period. In other words, the investment in corporate heritage is not luxury that only wealthy family businesses can afford. It is a tool used to recover competitive margins.
“This project introduces the novelty of defining and using an index of the relationship between investment in corporate history and other variables including ownership, governance, the type of business, whether B2B or B2C, economic performance, Italian or foreign ownership”, professor Merlo adds.
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