Monday, July 5, 2010

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.

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