Can Conglomerates Survive?

by Joseph Eastlack, Philip McDonald



Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines conglomerate as, among other things, made up of parts from various sources or of various kinds densely and often irregularly clustered to collect or form into a mass or coherent whole. Recently, Wall Street's and the financial community's definition of business conglomerates has shifted from that of a bright new world of corporate fortunes to favorite whipping boy. Typically, the yardstick of times earnings multiple has fallen from the high forties to under ten. Both environmental and internal factors have contributed to this changed investor perception. One cannot propose to examine or even specify all of these factors in this article. The purpose here is to examine critically just one phase of conglomerate management, the ability to grow profitably in the future. The source material for this examination is drawn from a recently completed study of chief executive officers; their attitudes, self-assessed responsibilities, and performance in the management of new growth through new product development and acquisition.

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