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When Charles Koch became the chief executive of Rock Island Oil & Refining after the death of his father in 1967, the company was a moderately successful enterprise based in Wichita, Kan. He renamed it Koch Industries in honor of his father — and over the next 40 years proceeded to transform Fred Koch’s legacy into the world’s largest private company. Koch Industries — now a commodity and financial conglomerate that includes brands such as Stainmaster, Lycra and Dixie cups — has 80,000 employees in 60 countries. Its revenue last year was $90 billion. In one generation, the book value of Koch Industries has increased 2,000-fold. That’s an 18% compounded annual return — comparable with the long-term track record of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
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At age 71, Mr. Koch clearly feels that the time has come to pass along the business formula that has served him so well. In "The Science of Success," he describes a technique, called Market-Based Management (MBM), that he says evolved from his reading, early in his career, in history, political science, economics and other disciplines. He arrived at an understanding of what allows a free society to prosper, Mr. Koch says, and decided to apply those principles to business.
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. . . He is especially fond of the "Austrian school" of economists, such as Ludwig von Mises and Joseph Schumpeter, who emphasized production processes, technology and the dynamic competitive models of "creative destruction."
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