Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Community: The Concept of the Corporation Chapter 3

A student of mine, who has been my regular discussant on the community nature of business, has just returned to his home to take charge of an educational institution. He participated in the group as a high school student and is looking forward to leading it. It gave him, and a large group of other students, a new perspective of themselves. It is clear that as a leader, he hopes to expand that role.

He’s going to an organization that is in pretty good shape. No debts. No major problems. He needs to update the group’s technology but that is a fairly trivial issue. Yet, he’s going into it with hope, with a desire to do something new, to do the kinds of things that were one important to him.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Imperfection: The Concept of the Corporation Chapter 3

Imperfection. Drucker is talking about the need to understand the importance of the imperfect nature of society while supporting its goals. He has an interesting phrase. “Nothing is more contemptible than the sum resignation to the inevitable imperfections of society which in all ages has characterized the Philistines. (So long as the Philistines are a literary society, the provides a metaphor for a certain type of action, his insight is fine. Should there be a Philistine Anti-defamation organization, then he is in trouble.)

He writes about American society as dualist, as both pragmatic and realistic, but he is really talking about hope. We are best when we are a hopeful people, when we expect good, when we see the thing with feathers that hovers in the air, when we know that it has a substance.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Take America Back: The Concept of the Corporation Chapter 3

Drucker notes that Americans have a fluid connection to their society. In Germany, he could find people who despised the Nazis but loyally fought for their country in the second world war. He sees Americans as loyal to this combination of pragmatism and idealism. The loyalty produces the “take it back” mentality, the idea that the institutions of society no longer meet the goals of society and hence need to be reclaimed by those tho really understands those goals. In the 1960s, the left made those claims. It is now the right raising that issue. And so things progress.

Corporation as Social Institution: American Beliefs: The Concept of the Corporation Chapter 3

Drucker argues that American society has its foundation in Christian theology. While this claim has certain truths, in that the individuals who established that society and indeed the people who ran it through Drucker’s time, had that foundation, I wonder if this idea limits the usefulness of Drucker’s analysis. The challenge that this idea presents is the confusion that American society promotes Christianity or Protestantism or that it should do so or that it fails to do so. But if you back away from that controversy, you see a foundation for society that is easy to miss if you just claim that the founders were merely rational humanists of the enlightenment or that the 19th century leaders were merely following the logical steps of capitalism.

There is nothing in capitalism that calls for ethics. Indeed, the idea that the buyer should beware is only to prevalent. But there are indeed forces that demand that business transactions be ethic. It is easy to dismiss some of these forces as naive or quixotic but they are sincere, as Drucker notes, and see the gap between the ideal and the present reality. They are seen in business organizations, in business schools, in groups of business people who lunch together just to understand others better.

As I have noted before, The Economist ran an article on Drucker, as this is the centenary of his birth, and noted that he “asked the right questions.” They did not say that he provided the right answers. I suspect Drucker’s insistence on the Christian foundation of American Society gave them pause. It only gets more prevalence as his writings progress.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th: The Concept of the Corporation Chapter 2

At long last, we are done with Chapter 2, which is really Section 2. Two more are left. Have a happy 4th of July. If you were do it in a Druckerian manner, you would do it in a decentralized fashion. You make the potato salad. Someone else should do the hot dogs.