This book is written from the perspective of the business practitioner, working to provide the goods and services which satisfy the needs and wants of real people. It recognises the ever increasing interdependence of our ever increasingly globalised world. It is vital for the long term success of all business organisations to be included in that myriad of interdependencies. To achieve this, they need to be trusted. And to achieve that, they need always to act with integrity.
The key components of that interdependent business context are identified, as they have evolved through industrial revolutions. 21st century governments lay stress on the importance of being ‘business friendly’, apparently failing to recognise that business is not a single coherent entity. There are start-ups, fast growing hi-tec businesses, mature low-tec plodders and businesses which appear to be in terminal decline. They all have different objectives and different needs. Even more important, today is the distinction between the real business organisation which provides the goods and services, and the financial organisations whose role used to be to provide the financial support needed by the real businesses. The need was to invest sufficiently in R&D, production facilities, people development and working capital.
Over the past few decades, a large proportion of financial sector organisations have changed their effective roles so that rather than supporting the financial needs of the producers, they are extracting value from them. That changed role is reviewed and explained so the distinction is clear between the producers of goods and services and those ambiguous financial businesses.
Those realities are contrasted with the false beliefs generated by economic theorizing to explain the role of business as it has evolved with industrial development. 21st century neoliberal economics, based on simplistic mathematical models to confirm commitment to maximising self-interest, both individual and corporate. The result has been all manner of inequalities, destructions and criminality.
So the real business of real business is to reverse that trend. It can be achieved by behaving with sufficient corporate integrity to be trusted by all stakeholders including customers. Good business not only can be both efficient and trustworthy, but in order to survive long term, must be both.
The aim of this text is to provide a realistic guide, in this fast changing, globalised world, as to how management practitioners might achieve such excellent performance while contributing to, rather than undermining, the common good.
It is based mainly on Anglo-American analysis, but also draws on data from other industrial and industrialising economies. Practitioners must necessarily make use of their own experience and judgement in managing integrity. They may need to adapt concepts to their own organisation’s particular circumstances. In some cases they will have to take unique initiatives and adopt distinctive responses. Moreover, whatever action they take will not remain valid for ever.
The real business of real business is a live and evolving concern, vital to the future of mankind and our planet.