Llorente & Cuenca: a paradigm for 5i business organizations

Manuel Bermejo Sánchez. Professor. IE Business School

18 February 2015

Llorente & Cuenca is a prime example of a company which has not only managed to weather the crisis, but has also managed to grow in such difficult times. This is because it has all the attributes of what I call a 5i Company

We recently presented the case study of Llorente & Cuenca at IE Business School. In the case the company’s president and founder, José Antonio Llorente, walks us through the creation and development of the firm, which is specialized in consulting services for communication, reputation and public affairs, and is currently the sector leader in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets.

More than contributing to purely academic discussion of the subject, cases like this should serve to recuperate confidence in what is known as “brand Spain.” I honestly believe that those who making the biggest contribution to rebuilding brand Spain, in the broadest sense of the term, are Spain’s many entrepreneurs. These are truly people of quality. When I talk about the concept of business creation I am referring to the important legacy left by the entrepreneurial spirit,  a concept that encompasses all business entrepreneurs, but also includes many other people who are applying the entrepreneurial approach to spheres like social, cultural and collaborative projects.

When looking at the question from a business perspective I should say that the Llorente y Cuenca case study forms part of the group of companies that even in widespread dire economic crisis scenarios manage to keep growing. I call these companies 5i firms, because they are brilliant at managing five concepts which all begin with the letter i. Those five concepts are:  

  • Intelligence, specifically market intelligence, which enables a firm to understand how the world is changing. We live in a society in constant change in which, if you will pardon the wordplay, the only permanent fixture is change. If the environment changes, so must strategies and management styles. Society has been tremendously impacted by the collision in time and space of two major revolutions, namely globalization and digitalization, two phenomena which are starting to change everything.
  • Innovation, in order to develop strategies that are better adapted to new times, times in which Darwinian theory applies to business management. Those who adapt, win.  You only have to observe how the today’s most prestigious people, institutions, or firms know how to come up with a wise combination of traditional values and adaptative innovation.
  • I&D, in order to have the capacity to develop own processes and products that meet real needs of the present day, and which constitute an enormous source of competitive advantage. As such, competitors find them difficult to imitate, and they are sustainable over time. Because we are living in times of shorter cycles, this is an absolute must.
  • Internationalization, given that we are now living in a well and truly globalized world. This means that firms have to extend their perimeters of analysis and action, without forgetting that in this globalized world the name of the game is competitiveness. By the way, do not forget that the more talent a company has, the more competitive it will be. It is also important to remember that a company is only as global as its teams. It is not slogans but diversity that adds value to the way a company is managed.  


  • Institutionalization, because it is the responsibility of today’s entrepreneur to go beyond day-to-day tactics. It is essential to have space for strategic reflexion. Firms need vantage points from which to observe social change from a different perspective. In order to achieve this the company should be institutionalized by creating strong and effective corporate governance which will equip the company to meet the ever greater challenges of this new era. The art of leading companies is increasingly complex because there are many more sides to reality. You only have to take a look at the Davos agenda, for example, to see the constant emergence of new issues to address, such as cybersecurity, social inclusion, the fight against inequality, or the human capital and skills needed for jobs, to name just a few.

In short, successful companies like this are to be congratulated on their happy existence, which not only makes a major contribution to generating jobs, wealth, and well-being, but also serves to give vital inspiration to new entrepreneurs. A more entrepreneurial society is a society that offers more opportunities, and is therefore a better and freer place.


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