We might take it for granted, but the concept of a company is an extraordinary invention.
In fact, the public limited company is a marvel of human ingenuity, without which modern advanced economies would not exist. We know that companies create wealth, but by transferring it backwards and forwards in time they are actually a means to provide for future generations, and by creating well-paid jobs they are a mechanism for wealth distribution and social mobility.
Unfortunately, in the 1980s the corporation was hijacked, and corporate and societal interests have steadily diverged: what’s good for the company is no longer good for society.
For 21st century economics to work, we need the company to rediscover its purpose as ‘society’s main engine of discovery and progress’, and management its voice as a moral profession, a vocation and, as Peter Drucker put it, the first of the liberal arts.
Join economist and Guardian columnist Simon Caulkin in this DIF Live Show and ask him - or tell him - which direction the economy is likely to take next.
Simon Caulkin is a business writer who for many years was management correspondent for The Observer, where his column on ‘management for the rest of us’ won several awards. He edited the monthly Management Today, and has contributed to many national and international business publications. Aside from business he has written (among other things) on the history of theatre for The Economist, photography for Company magazine and England for a Belgian daily newspaper. He edited what was claimed to be the first e-book, on Monica Lewinsky. He lives in London and Paris.
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