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posted by janrinok on Friday October 11 2019, @10:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the would-it-work? dept.

The rise, fall and rise again of businesses

What's the purpose of a business? For a long time, the textbook answer to that question has been purely "to make as much money as possible for its shareholders". But business leaders – who often themselves get huge payouts from this model – are beginning to challenge this orthodoxy.

Or so it seems. The influential Business Roundtable association of top US business leaders, which includes CEOs of Apple, Boeing, Walmart and JP Morgan, made a landmark statement in August. They committed "to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders". Maximising profits, they said, would no longer be their primary goal.

For many, it was seen as an historic moment for business. Markets, however, greeted the news with a yawn. Both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 in the US increased marginally on the day of the announcement.

[...] This brief history has us lurching back and forth between the ideas of shareholder versus stakeholder primacy that have waxed and waned over the decades. Are we doomed to pontificate on this endlessly?

As a way forward, I would advocate for a modest approach to end this interminable debate. A Hippocratic oath for corporations, based on seven principles:

1. Do no evil.

2. Pay taxes and adhere to laws and regulations.

3. Avoid interfering in politics.

4. Do not deny science.

5. Focus on core competencies and embrace competition.

6. If invested in the stakeholder model, ensure that stakeholders are represented in your governance structures.

7. If concerned about inequality, start at home.

This approach can help restore faith in corporations, protect their brands and reputation, and avoid accusations of hypocrisy, while focusing their attention on what they truly do best – producing goods or services. To paraphrase the writer Anand Giridharadas: "Avoid virtue signalling and virtuous side projects; do your day jobs more honourably."

And to quote Milton Friedman, business "should engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud".

What do you guys think ??

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  • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Monday October 14 2019, @10:56PM (2 children)

    by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <> on Monday October 14 2019, @10:56PM (#907153) Homepage Journal

    I got the humor. I've even coded in the bloody thing. It sucks ALL OF THE BALLS but I'm still not drawing a line in the sand saying I won't code it no matter how hungry I get. Just one saying shitty jobs will only be chosen if no less shitty jobs are to hand.

    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
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  • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday October 15 2019, @04:11AM (1 child)

    by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday October 15 2019, @04:11AM (#907238)

    I feel your pain. I hated OSes so much I wanted to write one. GDT, IDT, etc. fun stuff. Unbeknownst to me, Linux was being developed so I'm glad I didn't waste time. Ever consider designing a language?

    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Tuesday October 15 2019, @10:51AM

      by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <> on Tuesday October 15 2019, @10:51AM (#907307) Homepage Journal

      Nah, rehash is plenty of confusion for anybody's hobby. No need to go full OS.

      Joking aside, I've done just that for many a microcontroller. Very limited in scope, mind you. I'm pretty sure trying to design and code my own GP OS by myself would end in my tears and other people's laughter. But not until a decade or two later.

      My rights don't end where your fear begins.