On the Fundamental Work of Business

On the Fundamental Work of Business

Posted on:Aug 28 2008
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Business must be considered as a community of communities. It may be expressed in the following formulation: RL (CM+VL) → CM

As we can see, community is a construct of three elements:

  1. Relating
  2. Entities
  3. Value

There has been a great deal of interest, in recent years, in the concept of social enterprise (or social entrepreneurship/social innovation). Much of this interest has produced good. On the other hand, I fear that certain precepts at the core of this emerging interest are potentially damaging to what philosophers call “the good”. They are damaging, in particular, to enterprise’s capacity to produce the good.

Much of the research and writing in social x is focused on how business can translate its resources into useful public works: poverty elimination, community service, medical missions, etc.

Each of these pursuits is worthwhile but have a certain implication which is essentially harmful. They imply that a business exists to create resources which it can in turn re-purpose for the benefit of society. This is, in the end, a self-defeating notion.

I propose that the fundamental work of the business is to generate beneficial value as it relates to the heart of the business’s offering. Any other approach leads to ethical confusion, and thus ethical risks.

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