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P H I L O S O P H Y F O R B U S I N E S S ISSN 2043-0736
Issue number 4
8th February 2004
I. 'Response to Mike Parry and Robert Dunham' by David Gold
II. 'Corporations Need Treatment, Documentary Argues' by Stephen Leahy
III. 'Truthful Investment Savvy' by Michael Levy
IV. 'Call for Papers: the Ethics of Executive Compensation' by Robert Kolb
"The biggest obstacle to success in business is the frailty of human
psychology." True or false?
Someone who wants to make a success in the business world is torn between the
drive for efficiency and the bottom line, and the feeling that there must be
something more important in life than just chasing money.
The dilemma shows that the most important work we have to do, is the work we do
on ourselves -- not simply to make ourselves into ever more efficient money
making machines, but rather to become better, wiser human beings, capable of
discriminating judgement, never losing sight of the bigger picture.
David Gold reminds us that the ultimate goal is not just money, but to do
good business, which means treating people well, remembering our obligations
to society at large.
Stephen Leahy's report on corporate psychopathology brings home the dangers of
collective irresponsibility in big Corporations -- in plain words, passing the
buck when we should be personally accountable for our actions.
Michael Levy has some words for the individual investor about the need for
self-honesty and being prepared to admit when one has made an error of
Continuing the theme of the value of money, Professor Robert Kolb makes a call
for papers on the 'Ethics of Executive Compensation'.
I. 'RESPONSE TO MIKE PARRY AND ROBERT DUNHAM' BY DAVID GOLD
I read the two articles [in Philosophy for Business Issue 3 28 December 2003]
with interest. I recently was the lead speaker for the motion, "This house
believes that Corporate Social Responsibly is a PR fig-leaf." This was held at
the Institute of Directors. We narrowly won!
I started off believing that CSR was a good thing, however the limited formal
and informal research that I conducted brought me to the conclusion in complete
support of the motion. So much of what companies do as good corporate citizens
is aimed at improving reputation and gaining market share.
The business I run ProspectUs, provides services to not for profit
organisations. I run the company in a way that truly recognises the
important role we have to play as a corporate citizen in the local and wider
community. We do not do great things -- we try to be fair and reasonable. Last
summer I was puzzled by the number of visitors, that on hearing my description
of our business, enquired as to whether we were a social enterprise! As I serve
on the board of two social enterprises, I know we are not in that category of
It occurred to me that the real answer to their question was the position that
"money" played in our business. It is important, as it allows us to invest in
the future, however it is not a "god." We make enough to pay ourselves at a
competitive but not obscene level (my analysis only). We can also build the
business. We want to own, run and participate in a good business.
I believe that over the past twenty years money has become not just the primary
corporate objective, but occupies a position that puts all else to at best
secondary and many cases tertiary position. This includes treatment of staff,
obligations to the community, obligations to the wider society etc.
Money is not the true valuer of society or people -- yet companies have chosen
to use it as the only tool because it is easy.
I hope that adds to the debate.
(c) David Gold 2004
II. 'CORPORATIONS NEED TREATMENT, DOCUMENTARY ARGUES' BY STEPHEN LEAHY
TORONTO - Corporations are not only the most powerful institutions in the
world, they are also psychopathic, a new Canadian documentary on globalization
While the corporation has the rights and responsibilities of "a legal person",
its owners and shareholders are not liable for its actions. Moreover, the film
explains, a corporation's directors are legally required to do what is best for
the company, regardless of the harm created.
What kind of person would a corporation be? A clinical psychopath, answers the
documentary, which is now playing in four Canadian theatres.
"Everything we do in the world is touched by corporations in some way," says
'The Corporation' writer Joel Bakan.
Six years ago he was researching a book on the subject and teamed up with
documentary makers Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, and then set out to drum up
enough money to make the film and to do more than 40 interviews.
"Corporations are the most dominant institutions on the planet today. We
thought it was worth taking a close look at what that means," Bakan told IPS.
In law, today's corporations are treated like a person: they can buy and sell
property, have the right to free expression and most other rights that
This legal creativity came as a result of U.S. businesses using the Fourteenth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- designed to protect blacks in the U.S.
South after the Civil War -- to proclaim that corporations should be treated as
The filmmakers show four examples of corporations at work -- including garment
sweatshops in Honduras and Indonesia -- to demonstrate that this "legal person"
is inherently amoral, callous and deceitful.
The corporation, the film points out, ignores any social and legal standards to
get its way, and does not suffer from guilt while mimicking the human qualities
of empathy, caring and altruism.
A person with those character traits would be categorized as a psychopath,
based on diagnostic criteria from the World Health Organization (WHO), points
out the film.
Unlike 'Bowling for Columbine' -- to which it has been compared -- 'The
Corporation' does not follow a shambling yet crusading interviewer (Michael
Moore) into corporate head offices to ask tough questions.
Instead the filmmakers use simple but beautifully lit head and shoulder shots
of its subjects against a black background. The interviewer is never seen or
heard; the corporate chiefs, professors and activists speak directly to the
The technique is so compelling that not listening or turning away would seem
The interviews are interspersed with archival footage from many sources,
including scenes from sweatshops and news conferences. It also includes some
ironic and darkly humorous excerpts from corporate ad campaigns and training
films from the 1940s and '50s.
But the film is not a rant. It gives ample time to corporate chief executive
officers (CEOs) and representatives of right-wing organizations, like Canada's
Fraser's Michael Walker tells viewers that hungry people in the developing
world are better off when a sweatshop pays them 10 cents an hour to make brand
name goods that sell for hundreds of dollars.
And it is just good business sense that a corporation moves to seek out more
hungry people when its workers demand higher wages and better working
conditions, Walker argues.
Many others are less ruthless. Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former chairman of Royal
Dutch Shell, is honestly concerned about protecting the environment. Under his
guidance, Shell adopted many green initiatives and a commitment to developing
At the same time, Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other activists were hung in Nigeria
for protesting Shell Oil's pollution of the Niger Delta.
Social critic and linguist Noam Chomsky -- the subject of Achbar's 1992
award-winning 'Manufacturing Consent' -- carefully points out that people who
work for corporations, and even those who run them, are often very nice people.
The same could have been said about many slave owners, he observes. The
institution -- not the people -- is the problem, Chomsky argues.
Eminent economist Milton Friedman sums up the role of the corporation
succinctly: it creates jobs and wealth but is inherently incapable of dealing
with the social consequences of its actions.
'The Corporation' documents a bewildering array of these consequences --
including the deaths of citizens who protest corporate ownership of their water
in Cochabamba, Bolivia -- that demonstrate the extent and power of today's
It looks at the often-cozy relationships between corporations and fascist
regimes, such as that of IBM and Nazi leader Adolph Hitler.
It demonstrates the power of advertising to create desires for luxury items, as
well as how corporations can suppress information.
The documentary shows agribusiness corporation Monsanto successfully preventing
the news media from airing a story about the potential health hazards of a
genetically engineered drug given to many U.S. diary cows.
'The Corporation' also tells a number of success stories, including activists'
successful fight to overturn corporate patents on the neem tree and basmati
Bolivia's Oscar Olivera describes how citizens of Cochabamba city re-took
control of their water. The lesson, he explains, is the people's capacity for
"reflection, rage and rebellion" as an effective counter to corporate
That is one of the film's messages, says Bakan. "We want people to understand
that they can change things."
"Everyone keeps thanking us for making the film," says Mark Achbar, from the
Sundance festival of independent films in Utah state.
"People are fed up with being talked down to and enjoy being intellectually
engaged," he adds, trying to explain the documentary's popularity and several
international festival awards.
Despite its current limited distribution in Canada, 'The Corporation' has been
sold as a three-part, one-hour TV series to international markets, and Achbar
is hoping it will be translated into Spanish.
Of course, there will not be a multi-million marketing campaign. The number of
people who will see it will depend on those who have, spreading the word.
That is just one way to take back the power that corporations have usurped.
Published on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 by the Inter Press Service.
(c) 2004 IPS - Inter Press Service
III. 'TRUTHFUL INVESTMENT SAVVY' BY MICHAEL LEVY
A Philosophy For The Individual Investor.
Generating substantial amounts of money from the stock and commodity markets
takes a special flair. Both markets are known to act in random chaotic
movements within set trading ranges or trends for given moments in time.
Sooner or later all trends change and if an investor/ trader does not change
with them, they will forfeit their money. In the stock market, conceivably it
may be later. In the commodity markets, the losses are more likely to be a lot
The biggest handicap a person exhibits is being deluded by personal opinions on
which direction, they rigidly believe, any financial market, or particular stock
will journey. People talk about being bullish or bearish and become very adamant
about the direction they believe their interests will travel. Being stuck in any
cemented mind-set is a sure way to rack and ruin.
The biggest curse could be a "good education," for the more a person supposedly
knows about investments and trades, the more likely it becomes that they will
fix their attitude and opinions to establish camp as a bull or a bear.
Education should be employed for interpreting and relaying information. It
should not be used as a medium of setting the mind in stone.
In today's world there is a multitude of trading systems that can assist the
investor/ trader. Gathering all the information the hi-tech world provides
should be a good thing...So, if it is "a good thing" why doesn't every
financially educated person make money? All the information they collect and
compile is, in all likelihood, the reason why they do Not make money. It is not
the fact the information is faulty...It is the way it is envisioned and
interpreted that has shortcomings.
Circumstances change and what started out as a good tip or idea can become a
losing proposition for a myriad of reasons. So how can a regular person who
wants to get rich earn money in financial markets without dependence on
"experts or gurus," who rarely make substantial money for their clients over a
long period of time. Well, the individual investor needs to become a compass
with no fixed direction... A barometer with no high or low.
Visualize a dial that has north-east-south-west on it. The investor is a human
arrow that is unrestrained and is free to move in any direction. However,
desire and opinion is removed from the make up of the human arrow. There is no
glass to cover the dial and the arrow will travel in the direction the wind
blows. The arrow has no independent choice... It must move with the wind's
direction, no matter how it has been assembled. If it resists the wind's power
it will divorce from its dial and will elude true direction. (Go Broke!)
The arrow's direction is propelled by an intelligence magnetism that is beyond
its grasp, yet it is in reach of its construction, therefore it can be
mobilized in any fashion. What this means is; the human arrow is susceptible to
change from a force it does not recognize, yet it knows exists in an
indiscernible manner which is comparable to the wind. This compelling magnetism
breeds Truthful Investment Savvy. The investor becomes endowed with Truthful
Once the investor/ trader releases their obstructed mind-set convictions and
they enhance an open observational approach to every transaction, they will
have a greater chance to earn money in the markets. It does not mean they will
not slip back into old traits and make mistakes. But, the mistakes will be seen
as a litmus test that explains how the actions went against the direction of the
wind. Instead of relying on opinions formulated from sources that may or may not
be true, they position their minds awareness to become a; proactive
- Information is identified, correlated then linked to ways
it will move in synchronicity with a market or stock,
without a personal opinion hindrance.
- Instead of reacting with fear or greed to information, they
move with grace and harmony into each deal.
- They are not afraid to take a profit or loss.
- They may lose many battles but they know they will win the
- Setbacks and adversities become a power fuel that infuses
the energy to reconsign any loss into an increased profit.
- They entrust their financial future to no other human being.
- They command their own ship with benevolence and kindness
to other people.
- They find there decision making skills continue to expand
and relate to greater profits.
- Restrictions of attitude and opinions fade away and reside
in a quite corner of the mind.
- Stubborn pride and unyielding presumptions give way to the
authentic reason for being in the market... It is to make
money, not to defend the Ego.
A new financial warrior is born who enjoys every transaction no matter the
The game 'TIS afoot and open to infinite possibilities.
'TIS the adrenaline of pure potential flowing through the veins.
The blood 'TIS transfused with universal intelligence
and it flows into every cell and molecule of the mind/body.
Now the investor/ trader can go forth and multiply with Truthful Investment
(c) Michael Levy 2003 All rights reserved
Web site: http://pointoflife.com
IV. CALL FOR PAPERS: THE ETHICS OF EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
The University of Colorado presents the
Japha Symposium on Business and Professional Ethics
"The Ethics of Executive Compensation"
October 29, 2004
We seek academically-oriented, high quality studies of issues related to the
ethics of executive compensation. Likely approaches might include: analysis of
executive compensation from the point of view of distributive justice, the
rights of boards and executives to contract freely, the obligation of corporate
boards to set and monitor compensation, the use of corporate power to seek
excessive compensation, the relationship between compensation and value
creation, as well as others. The papers must be in English and an ideal length
is twenty pages. Papers presented at the Japha Symposium will appear in the:
Leeds School Series on Business and Society
published by Blackwell Publishers
Please submit proposals by June 1 and final papers no later than September 15,
Robert W. Kolb
Assistant Dean for Business and Society
Leeds School of Business
University of Colorado, 419 UCB
Boulder, Colorado 80309
Please visit our Leeds School business and society web site to learn about our
activities and to subscribe to our e-newsletter.
(c) Robert W. Kolb 2004
Academic and Professional website: http://www.robertwkolb.com
Photographic website: http://www.kolbphoto.com