Friday, January 18, 2013

John Mackey's New Book And Heroic Entrepreneurs

It was reviewed in the WSJ. See Chicken Soup for a Davos Soul: Successful companies serve a purpose beyond making money.

 The full title is Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business. Click here to go to the Amazon link

Excerpts from the review:
"What is refreshing about the Mackey-Sisodia take is that they aren't advocating some bolt-on solution to the capitalist model. Rather they argue that the mathematical framework of free-market economics—developed by neoclassical economists in the 20th century—fundamentally mischaracterizes the true nature of capitalism.

"With few exceptions," the authors write, "entrepreneurs who start successful businesses don't do so to maximize profits. Of course they want to make money, but that is not what drives most of them. They are inspired to do something that they believe needs doing. The heroic story of free-enterprise capitalism is one of entrepreneurs using their dreams and passion as fuel to create extraordinary value for customers, team members, suppliers, society, and investors."

Unlike commentators who defend capitalism while expressing some doubt or disapproval—think of Irving Kristol's 1978 neoconservative manifesto, "Two Cheers for Capitalism"—Messrs. Mackey and Sisodia are unapologetic enthusiasts. "This is what we know to be true," they declare in the first chapter. "Business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity." The challenge, they say, is to make capitalism more "conscious" of its heroic nature.

What does that mean? Well, first, the authors say, it means having a clear purpose, beyond just making money"
Now here is the description from Amazon:
"“We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free-enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to something even greater.” —From the Conscious Capitalism Credo

In this book, Whole Foods Market cofounder John Mackey and professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. cofounder Raj Sisodia argue for the inherent good of both business and capitalism. Featuring some of today’s best-known companies, they illustrate how these two forces can—and do—work most powerfully to create value for all stakeholders: including customers, employees, suppliers, investors, society, and the environment.

These “Conscious Capitalism” companies include Whole Foods Market, Southwest Airlines, Costco, Google, Patagonia, The Container Store, UPS, and dozens of others. We know them; we buy their products or use their services. Now it’s time to better understand how these organizations use four specific tenets—higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management—to build strong businesses and help advance capitalism further toward realizing its highest potential.

As leaders of the Conscious Capitalism movement, Mackey and Sisodia argue that aspiring leaders and business builders need to continue on this path of transformation—for the good of both business and society as a whole.

At once a bold defense and reimagining of capitalism and a blueprint for a new system for doing business grounded in a more evolved ethical consciousness, this book provides a new lens for individuals and companies looking to build a more cooperative, humane, and positive future."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Economics resembles storytelling more than mathematics

That is according to a NY Times magazine article. See God Save the British Economy by ADAM DAVIDSON. Here are the relevant passages:
"Economics often appears to be an exercise in number-crunching, but it actually resembles storytelling more than mathematics. Before the members of the Monetary Policy Committee gather for their monthly meeting, they sit through a presentation from the Bank of England’s economic staff. The staff members take the most recent economic data — G.D.P. growth, the unemployment rate and more subtle details gathered from interviews with businesspeople throughout the country — and try to fashion it into a narrative. Does a sudden spike in new factory orders represent a fundamental shift, or is it just a preholiday blip? Do anecdotal reports of rising food prices herald a period of inflation, or is it the result of a cold snap? Which story feels truer?
A few days later, each of the nine members of the M.P.C. puts forth his or her own interpretation. Over two days, the members debate these competing narratives and discuss what the Bank of England should do. Then the committee votes, and the winning policies are implemented."
A related post is Economists Love Fables And Parables (Or, What Is The Essence Of Economic Analysis?)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Does The Type Of Economy Affect The Kind Of God People Worship?

Here is a paper title and abstract:

Peoples, Hervey C & Frank W Marlowe. 2012. Subsistence and the evolution of religion. Human Nature 23(3). 253?269.


 The authors present a cross-cultural analysis showing that the presence of an active or moral High God in societies varies generally along a continuum from lesser to greater technological complexity and subsistence productivity. Foragers are least likely to have High Gods. Horticulturalists and agriculturalists are more likely. Pastoralists are most likely, though they are less easily positioned along the productivity continuum. The authors suggest that belief in moral High Gods was fostered by emerging leaders in societies dependent on resources that were difficult to manage and defend without group cooperation. These leaders used the concept of a supernatural moral enforcer to manipulate others into cooperating, which resulted in greater productivity. Reproductive success would accrue most to such leaders, but the average reproductive success of all individuals in the society would also increase with greater productivity. Supernatural enforcement of moral codes maintained social cohesion and allowed for further population growth, giving one society an advantage in competition with others.