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Big Winners and Big Losers.

One way of measuring the success of a firm is its performance on the stock market. In Big Winners and Big Losers, Alfred Marcus compares the 3% of firms that outperform their industry's average stock market performance for 10 years with the 6% that consistently under-perform. Marcus is a professor at Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.


The differences between the strategies of the winners and losers is determined with data derived from independent reports of teams of five to six experienced managers. Each team contrasts a winner and a loser and there are five reports for each pair of companies. Big Winners and Big Losers includes many examples from these reports.

Winners are in a sweet spot in the market, with strategies that are agile, disciplined, and focused; whereas, losers sit in a sour spot due to being rigid, inept, and diffuse. Winners maintain a sweet spot by being close to their customers. Their agility enables them to keeping up to the changing needs of these customers. Their discipline makes them maintain good business practices, such as reducing costs and improving quality, when guarding their sweet spot from intruders. Their focus keeps them investigating how to use their core strengths to pursue new high growth products and markets.

Marcus compares Big Winners and Big Losers with other popular management books in the first appendix in the text. He claims that these other books are lacking since their primary emphasis is either just on agility or just on discipline and focus. He puts the balanced scorecard in the pile of those ideas that focus on discipline and focus. He suggests that a winner needs to also have the agility to move at market speed.

By Alfred A. Marcus. Published by Wharton School Publishing. For more information visit

Reviewed by Patrick Buckley, CMA, PhD. Buckley is an Ottawa, Ont.-based systems analyst.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Society of Management Accountants of Canada
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Buckley, Patrick
Publication:CMA Management
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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