The main idea of the essay is that a business should be built upon striving for greatness, not just demonstrating good results or satisfactory performance. What is meant by being built upon is that the aspirations of achieving greatness should be the core of the corporate culture, the main driving force for development, and the essential element of strategic vision. The author explains why greatness is such an important concept for business and supports the explanation with two key notions of the modern business world: corporate governance and globalization. The former is a system of practices, procedures, and values used by the directors to guide the company’s operations. The latter is the concept of reaching for resources and markets globally as well as considering global economical, political, and social trends.
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It is argued that there are three components of a corporation’s greatness: corporate perpetuity, entrepreneurial endurance, and corporate soul. Corporate perpetuity means integrity and breadth of the corporate vision, i.e. strategic planning beyond immediate needs and challenges. Entrepreneurial endurance is strength and resistance of the corporate operation and interaction (rather than just employees) to pressures. It is also about discipline and devotedness to shared aspirations. Finally, corporate soul refers to something that the author calls a philosophical maturity. To explain it, the author turns to ancient Greek philosophy, namely Aristotelian ethics.
According to the author, the purpose of a series of publications, including this essay, is to provide readers with practical wisdom necessary for effective management. In the conclusion, it is stated that corporate greatness and preeminence are not only attainable for corporations but should be positioned as the main goal of a corporation.
The essay is divided into two parts: the first one is introduction and the second one is the body of the essay. The introduction, titled “Why Greatness?” provides valuable theoretical background which makes the dynamically expressed ideas of the following part easier to perceive and more understandable. It is particularly convenient that key concepts are typed in bold and italics: it makes navigation in the essay and following the author’s thoughts smoother.
The essay features profound conceptual analysis of business and entrepreneurship in general on the theoretical level. It is about speculations and ideas about companies and corporations, their operation and purposes, that are in a sense universal, i.e. applicable to various businesses because they refer to fundamental characteristics of business initiatives and activities.
Concerning the essay’s arguments, there are several references to academic literature, which always makes an essay look more reliable and representative. What makes the essay look even more impressive is referring to Aristotle and explaining notions of corporate values using the framework of Nicomachean Ethics.
However, the weakness of the paper is that it does not provide certain examples of how the conceptual and theoretical knowledge conveyed through it can be applied to real-life decision-making and problem-solving. The goal of this particular publication is declared as providing practical wisdom, while the essay features a lot of wisdom and little practicality.
Although the essay content is not imbued with practical guidelines, it still can offer certain applications. Particularly, the author elaborates on how the three prerequisites for corporate greatness—corporate perpetuity, entrepreneurial endurance, and corporate soul—can be achieved.
First of all, corporate perpetuity should be based on a clear purpose. The purpose should be based on the ethics incorporated into the core of the company’s operation and promoted by senior managers. The importance for a business of having the ethics and igniting the purpose is emphasized by the fact that the absence of these elements of corporate culture leads to a situation where long-term success is sacrificed to short-term benefits. Such a situation signifies the corruption of the most fundamental principle of entrepreneurship—competition. Therefore, ethics and purpose promote the integrity and long-term strategic approaches that constitute the notion of corporate perpetuity.
Second, the concept of entrepreneurial endurance recognizes that businesses are constantly moving and constantly facing challenges. In order to succeed, companies need to modify their operations to comply with the needs of the market. Transformation, improvement, and advancing are ongoing tasks for corporations. Corporations do not occasionally overcome obstacles; it is rather that their entire life cycle is about constant problem-solving. Therefore, entrepreneurial endurance is not a characteristic that a business should possess in case it faces challenges but a feature it should have integrally in order to be successful. The endurance is the amount of energy that an organization has and can use to effectively handle the ever-expanding competition requirements.
Finally, the notion of the corporate soul is explained through the Aristotelian example of the greatness of soul. It is argued that, for a great soul, the cause of prosperity is virtuous wisdom. The author of the essay compares this idea to the fundamental concept of capitalism: the preeminence among competitors is the result of corporations’ virtuous wisdom. Having the corporate soul means possessing a vision and a destination that are in line with the well-being of the society. It also means having excellence as a priority and building management and operation on the basis of the worthiness of goals. The corporate soul is also about admitting and exploring the risks, but it is emphasized that great-souled corporations take risks for bigger purposes that will have positive effects on the societies, within which the corporations operate.