New York (May 22, 2003) -- What makes the most successful public companies so successful? It all boils down to the financial rewards to shareholders, and a heady mix of management practices that show clear leadership, strategizing, innovation and talent.

That's the finding of The Evergreen Project, a large-scale study conducted by professors and students at America's top business schools which examined the impact of more than 200 practices on 160 businesses, representing 40 different industries. The initial results, released after the 10-year study ended in 1996, were recently updated to include data from 1997-2001.

The update found that companies with higher scores in four primary areas (strategy, execution, culture, organization) and any two of the four secondary areas (talent, leadership, innovation, mergers and partnerships) consistently produced greater profits than their competitors.

A surprising finding: "Such highly touted factors as first-class information technology, the composition of corporate boards of directors and a zeal for quality, although admirable, had no direct cause-and-effect relationship with the financial performance of a given business."

The follow-up study focused on top companies such as Target, which it showcased as a great example of a company that "adheres to a clearly stated, sharply defined strategy that is a hallmark of success."

For more information on the study, go to

-- WebCPA staff

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