Aristotle and Capitalism

Current Affairs

Interesting piece published today that calls for business to recognize that long-term goals driven by altruism can be profitable just as short-term driven by selfishness can be.

The solution the authors propose is a return to classical values such as first systematically described by Aristotle and others. They say that business needs to learn that virtue needs to be a core value too…

“Conventional methods of assessing business excellence are limited in scope, the researchers say, they cannot cope with emerging socioeconomic priorities in the light of globalisation, rising populations, energy and water demands, and climate change, for instance. The conventional tools to measure performance, such as balanced scorecards, Six Sigma analysis, and process reengineering are useful nevertheless but focus on a business internally. ‘We, in contrast, try to set out a broader framework that encompasses, through notions of purpose, richer, fuller and more complete aspirations of excellence.’

Most businesses work with shareholder interests in mind. Corporate managers see the overarching goal of the business to maximise dividends and share value. If managers’ pay is linked directly to their success in achieving this goal, then the paradigm is reinforced. Simplistically, moral and social concerns can be ignored. We have seen decades of impressive economic growth riding on this paradigm. However, global issues such as climate change, poverty and the looming energy crisis, will not be addressed through this approach to business.

Anderson and Crockett argue that the division between society and business must be healed and this can be achieved not be seeing excellence as a purely profit-led aspiration, but by incorporating the ancient notion of virtue. “

Read the rest here.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...