Robust Strategies: Lessons from GKN 1759 – 2012

Christopher Carr, Andrew Lorenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


GKN is Britain’s surviving top 50 company from 1905, a flourishing world top player automotive and aero components. This article traces 253 years of its development, domestically and internationally, drawing on the author’s corporate access and worldwide field research since 1974, and three in-depth business histories including one by the co-author. Lessons confirm just some traits, expected of successful ‘Built To Last’ companies. However, GKN’s ‘robust’ sustained strategy also reflects financial conservatism; constant adaptation to its historical and competitive context; highly pro-active internationalisation and, from 1902 onwards, a determination to develop always at least ‘three major business legs’ to survive evolutionary processes as sectors mature and consolidate globally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1195
JournalBusiness History
Issue number7
Early online date14 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2014


  • long-lived companies
  • enduring companies
  • longevity
  • 'Built to Last' traits
  • corporate diversification and internationalisation
  • evolution
  • performance
  • GKN
  • business history
  • Britain's largest companies

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