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The Art of Corporate Success: The Story of Schlumberger by Ken Auletta

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12

STRIVING FOR PERFECTION

How to maintain and spread the Schlumberger spirit is a preoccupation of Schlumberger executives pondering the company’s future. It’s not difficult to understand what has made the company so successful, Bernard Alpaerts says: “decentralization and creating a certain spirit.” The danger, he says, is in “not understanding how you keep that.” He worries that Schlumberger may be losing its spirit: “You can hire a young engineer today and the first question he asks is ‘What’s my pension?’ Twenty years ago, he would not have asked that.” In Alpaerts’ mind, the spiritual decline is a product of the materialism, insecurity, and weakened bonds of trust that plague industrialized society.

In the view of Claude Baks, who was hired ...

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