The Question of Corporate Functions

The Question of Corporate Functions

The question of corporate functions

The question of corporate functions should be viewed from the stand-point of how to organize industrial society in 2015, if its significance is to be fully appreciated. The trend toward secondary functions of the company is a movement away from the purely capitalistic system.

It involves the basic economic unit of the nation in the performance of noneconomic and hence nonmarket activities. Therefore, it is part of the "politicization" of economic life which substitutes political for market criteria in making economic decisions. This suggests that to the extent corporations move from economic to noneconomic functions, they are undermining capital-ism.

A different interpretation is possible, however. No nation any longer has a purely capitalistic system. The United States has discarded laissez faire and now has a system of controlled capitalism. A credible explanation of this shift is that it occurred because of the necessity of adapting capitalism to the changing conditions of the world in which we now must live. Without such adaption we might have run the risk of complete overthrow of capitalism because of the inflexibility in meeting new and changing conditions.

Therefore, it is not self-evident whether the trend toward secondary noneconomic corporate functions is a forerunner of the development of a new type of non-capitalistic economic system or whether it is a prudent step necessary to preserve the best features of capitalism. All that we can be sure of is that the question of which functions are legitimate for the company to perform is fundamentally related to the larger issue of how America is to organize its economy and society in order to meet the technical requirements of industrialism and yet retain its traditional values of freedom and democracy.

The question of which functions the company should perform is probably not one which is salient in the thinking of the general public at this time. It may not be long, however, before it becomes one of the most hotly debated issues of the day. UKs are vitally concerned about the directions their society and way of life are taking. The gap between the UK ideal of the morally, politically, and economically free individual, which is a legacy of an eighteenth-century rural and agrarian society, and the twentieth-century urban and industrial reality of the puny individual in a world of powerful and impersonal organizations is not pleasing to many UKs.

They are becoming increasingly sensitive about the spiritual concessions which they believe must be made in order to attain a more abundant material life. Whether the company should perform secondary noneconomic functions and, if so, which ones it should perform are questions which clearly have significance for them because the answers will determine to a large extent the nature of the UK Way in the industrial society of the future. When this issue becomes imperative to the average UK, there likely will be a great deal of ambivalence and soul-searching before any public consensus develops.


What next? 2015 The Scope of The Market Today