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Business models and practices have evolved considerably in the past few decades. With the fall of the USSR as a major alternative to society, capitalism took over the majority of the world. Unlike communism, which was treated as a dogma that contributed to its own demise, the concept of capitalism is constantly studied and improved by a great plethora of researchers, analysts, businesspersons, and scientists, in order to find an equilibrium between commerce and society. The article called Toward Corporate Preeminence: The Greatness of Corporate Soul, written in 2012 by Sean D. Jasso is the first out of three essays dedicated to the introduction and incorporation of corporate governance strategies based on striving for greatness. The purpose of this paper is to analyze and evaluate the article based on its goals and arguments, strengths, and weaknesses of statements used to support it, and the usefulness of the information provided.
The main idea proposed in this article is that for a successful business model in the ever-changing and increasingly competitive global market, a corporation must adopt and cultivate three key qualities among its employees and senior staff. These qualities are corporate perpetuity, entrepreneurial endurance, and corporate soul.
The author describes corporate perpetuity as “clarity of vision beyond that of the tangible life of the firm.” It is argued that this clarity of vision could be only achieved by struggle, sacrifice, and painful self-assessment. In addition, a business has to have an ethical and moral foundation. If the ethical and moral principles of a manager are aligned with the corporate policies, management is more effective as a result. Ethical principles of a company should not be open for interpretation, otherwise, there is a risk that the quality of work would plummet.
Entrepreneurial endurance is established through soldier attitude, endurance, and perseverance required to achieve true greatness. It is argued that without perseverance and the desire to achieve perfection, no company will be truly great, and thus has no chance of surviving the vicious competitiveness of the free market.
Lastly, the concept of corporate soul serves as a philosophical base for the corporation, as mature moral teaching based on the foundation of greatness itself. It puts greatness as an end-goal to be strived for, and perfection to be worth the risks are taken. Any company or corporation should be willing to take risks in order to improve and construct their management systems to be able to handle such risk.
The overarching goal of the article, as Jasso stated at the end of the introduction section, is to “provoke the entrepreneur, shareholder, manager, customer and the many entities who have a claim to an organization’s success – whether a hospital, nonprofit organization, a multinational corporation or a small business – to evaluate and innovate their governance and global infrastructure.”
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Argument
The argument itself is presented as highly believable and plausible, even without the citations made to support its correctness. Few will argue that in the competitive environment of a modern global market, only those who strive for perfection will be able to survive. Otherwise, companies that are willing to aim not for good results, but for great ones will inevitably overtake their positions. The article also suggests that perfection has an inherent value in itself, which goes beyond the utilitarian need to stay in the competitive market. It is hard to argue against this point of view.
The author provides a convincing narrative for the argument, supported by several sources and citations from various theorists and researchers on the topic of leadership, such as Ellsworth, Ericsson, De Soto, and others. The foundation for his views on perfectionism and corporate greatness takes roots in Aristotle’s concepts of a Great-souled man, which is frequently mentioned in the article.
However, the statements and the text composition both have certain flaws that diminish the article’s credibility and effectiveness. The glaring weakness present in all statements present in the essay is that there is no connection made to real-life scenarios and actual company policies and strategies to prove the viability of the concepts. Jasso uses literature and philosophical theories to support his argument but foregoes tying theory with practice, despite having stressed out the need for practical solutions. As it is stated in the introduction section, any collective effort can aspire for greatness. It does not matter if the enterprise is big or small, servicing a district or an entire nation. The author claims his theory to be universal and equally applicable to everyone. However, without practical examples, the representative of an average household or a small business will find little value in reading about obscure theoretical notions of greatness and perfectionism.
It can be argued that these weak spots are to be expected from the first essay of the trilogy, as the purpose of the first essay is to serve as an introduction to the reader before they are lead to more practical parts illustrated in the second and third essays. Still, the format chosen by Jasso suggests that three essays could be viewed both as parts of a larger text and as individual works. Otherwise, the author would have included all three inseparably in a single, large writing. While the first essay would have shed many of its weaknesses then, its stance is much weaker if we view it individually, outside the context.
Since the first essay is obviously meant to be an introduction, it does not offer much in terms of practical information. The essay introduces us to the theoretical concepts of corporate perpetuity, entrepreneurial endurance, and corporate soul, as well as an analysis by Aristotle in order to support those concepts. However, the more practical aspects of the application of these tenets are reserved for the next articles, as it was frequently mentioned in the essay itself. It is possible to apply all three in practice just through personal understanding and evaluation of the concepts. However, it would be somewhat harder to do without further elaboration and practical examples. Simple tenets of striving for perfection, pursuing goals relentlessly, and seeing greatness as its own reward are present in the history of business for a very long time.
The article provides a solid theoretical framework for further discussion of the three concepts necessary for achieving corporate greatness, such as corporate perpetuity, entrepreneurial endurance, and corporate soul. The theoretical argument is convincing and well-supported by various sources and has a solid foundation on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. However, due to an absence of practical examples and many referrals to the second and third essays, this article should not be viewed separately from them, but rather as part of a whole.