These companies are highly successful, innovative, and differentiated small and medium-sized enterprises that are global leaders in terms of market share in their respective niches. The concept of hidden champions was developed by German professor Dr. Hermann Simon in the 1990’s when he was analysing the striving success of the German economy. In the course of his research, it has come to his attention that the export-oriented German economy is building its expansion to a considerable extent on globally successful companies which, however, remain largely unknown to the general public; thus, the name hidden champions. The research resulted in several books written by Dr. Hermann Simon, with the main book “Hidden Champions of the 21. Century” achieving bestseller status.
In 2011, CEEMAN and IEDC-Bled School of Management conducted research on hidden champions in Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey. The research revealed that such companies exist also in transitional economies. Research results were published in 2013 by the international publisher Springer under the title “Hidden Champions in CEE and Turkey”.
In 2018, CEEMAN and IEDC-Bled School of Management decided to repeat the research on hidden champions in order to reveal the development path of hidden champions detected in previous research, but also to identify new hidden champions in dynamically changing societies. The research was sponsored by EBRD, and the results were published by Springer in May 2021 under the title “Hidden Champions in Dynamically Changing Societies: Critical Success Factors for Market Leadership”. This latest book on hidden champions presents 105 selected in-depth case studies of highly successful companies from 22 countries conducted by a network of 66 academic researchers mainly from CEE countries.
Now, in 2022, under the umbrella of the Alliance of Management Development Associations in Rising Economies, in which CEEMAN is at the moment in lead position, a global research on hidden champions is launched! The research will include countries of Central and Eastern Europe, South America, Africa and Asia! The research will provide essential insights into the critical drivers of success, market leadership positions, competitive advantage, and core lessons learned on the road to business prosperity. It will also address development needs in connection with management, financing and the regulatory environment. From this, recommendations will be made to various stakeholders (e.g. governments, financial institutions, management development institutions) to support hidden champions, as well as other companies, in their continued growth and business success.
The mastermind and supervisor of the research project is Professor Dr. Danica Purg from IEDC-Bled School of Management. This is her comment on the upcoming research project: “In the two previous research cycles we have shown that businesses from highly dynamic societies can strive globally, thus playing an important role in the global market. But as I have already announced, there is more to come. Together with our partners from the Alliance of Management Development Associations in Rising Economies we have set things in motion for the third cycle of research which will encompass companies from rising economies in different parts of the world. South America, Africa, Asia, along with Central and Eastern Europe have more success stories to offer, and our intention is to identify them and tell their story to the world!”
The research project is led by Professor Dr. Denis Berberović from the School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo. Dr. Denis Berberović has been a researcher with CEEMAN and IEDC in the previous two research cycles and has expertise in qualitative research. Here is his comment about the research: “Global research projects are in general very rare as they need to surmount different organizational, technical, financial and contextual obstacles. On top of that, it is a qualitative research project which is by definition highly complex to conduct even in smaller settings. However, given the importance of the previous two research cycles, and the resulting interest for research findings, we have decided to embrace the challenge and to extract valuable business lessons from hidden champions around the world.”
To follow the development of this global research project, please visit the CEEMAN and IEDC-Bled School of Management website. For more information, you can contact the lead researcher Dr. Denis Berberović at email@example.com.
Denis Berberović, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the department of Marketing, School of Economics and Business, University in Sarajevo. His expertise is in qualitative market research and entrepreneurial marketing. For ten years now he has also been engaged as researcher at IEDC – Bled School of Management, Slovenia. In the previous two cycles of Hidden Champions research in Central and Eastern Europe he has led the research team for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has published conference papers, journal articles and book chapters about hidden champions for Springer, in addition to other of his academic publications.