Philip Whiteley's Blog

September 9, 2011

Radical shift and the good that business can do

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 1:44 pm

Just a quick blog to state that output has been limited recently as I’ve been exceptionally busy with other work. Among other projects is a new blog with Neela Bettridge of Article13, called Radical Shift. Click here. This is a highlight from the newest entry:

One of the aims of this blog is to promote the ethical role that business can and does play; not only by producing socially useful products – from cell phones that help economic development in sub-Saharan Africa to medical devices that enhance quality of life for elderly frail people – but also by creating careers, and innovating sustainable supply chain practices, and the wealth to pay for the welfare state.
If the problem is a lack of awareness of the good that business can do, does the fault lie entirely with misplaced idealism of the young, and campaigns for public spending programmes by the trade unions?

Not quite. The main reason that business appears to be divorced from society and good works is that that has been the way business wanted it. That is the way the MBA has been taught. The notion that the shareholders ‘own’ the company and the assets (if this were true, it would almost amount to slavery, as Charles Handy tellingly points out in this interview with Simon Caulkin); and that the sole purpose of the executive is to maximise their returns, and all the misanthropic baggage that accompanies this approach, did not spring up out of nowhere. It was taught. There was no evidence or logic to support it, and it has caused immense and avoidable damage to society, but it was taught, all the same. You can read the summary of this ideology in the seminal New York Times feature by the late Milton Friedman, published in 1970.

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