Founded in 1976 by Dr. James Goodnight and Dr. John Sall, both professors at North Carolina State University, SAS Institute, Inc. provides business intelligence (BI) software and services at more than 40,000 customer sites worldwide, including 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. SAS, which stands for “statistical analysis software,” is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina. It is the world’s largest privately held software company, having over 100 offices worldwide with approximately 10,000 employees. With an unbroken record of growth and profitability, SAS had revenue of $1.18 billion in 2002 and invested about 25 percent of revenues into research and development. (1) The phenomenal success story of SAS is, in no small part, due to its human resources strategy, policies, and practices. How do the HR strategy, policies, and practices contribute so much to the success of SAS?
Human Resources Policies and Practices at SAS
Fast Company metaphorically describes the SAS Institute as a modern company that is like a kingdom in a fairy-tale land. “Although this company is thoroughly modern (endowed with advanced computers, the best child care, art on almost every wall, and athletic facilities that would make an NBA trainer drool), there is something fairy-tale-like about the place. The inhabitants are happy, productive, well rounded — in short, content in a way that’s almost unheard-of today. They are loyal to the kingdom and to its king, who in turn is the model of a benevolent leader. The king — almost unbelievably — goes by the name Goodnight.” (2) SAS is strongly committed to its employees. The company strives to hire talented people and goes to extraordinarily lengths to ensure that they are satisfied. James Goodnight, the CEO of SAS, says: “We’ve made a conscious effort to ensure that we’re hiring and keeping the right talent to improve our products and better serve our customers. To attract and retain that talent, it’s essential that we...
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