According to an analysis led by Ranjay Gulati, during the recessions of 1980, 1990, and 2000, 17% of the 4,700 public companies studied fared very badly: They went bankrupt, went private, or were acquired. But just as striking, 9% of the companies flourished, outperforming competitors by at least 10% in sales and profits growth.
A more recent analysis by Bain using data from the Great Recession reinforced that finding, showing that the top 10% of companies studied didn’t merely survive; their earnings climbed steadily throughout the downturn and continued to rise afterward.
Among the companies that stagnated in the aftermath of the Great Recession, few had made contingency plans, according to the Bain report. “When the downturn hit, they switched to survival mode, making deep cuts and reacting defensively.”
How should firms prepare for a recession, and what should they do when one hits? This research roundup examines advice in four areas: debt, decision making, workforce management, and digital transformation.