Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 2/23

                                                                        Steering Business
Chapter 7 conveys an opinion that a relative handful of (mostly) men -- mostly white, upper class, highly educated men -- influence whatever is to be produced. With such premise, a major question raised is that how might these small group of business executives innovate in more public-regarding ways? Prof. Woodhouse thinks that business is in a privileged position that public can not effectively influence which direction technologies are developing towards. However, I do not completely agree with such statement.

In fact, there are many ways that public can influence on business decision. First of all, legislation is the most powerful weapon. Typically in democratic country, public has the right to choose leader based on his/her politic interests. Designated leader (who shares the same view with the majority) raises laws or amendments in order to regulate/direct business developing direction. For example, laws can set up limit of the production of certain chemical or raises the tax rate of certain industry. Alternatively, laws can encourage investments into certain public favored industry. Some people may argue that politicians rely on business executives' funding to run their election, so politicians' interests are, nevertheless, still the interests of the small group of executives. That is true. Politicians advertise a lot with the funding and deceive the public with sweet words. Some politicians even fail to fulfill their promises. Such phenomenon is a defect of modern democratic system, and this "tag-of-war" between two different social classes has been on-going for thousands of years throughout the world. What I am actually trying to say is that public definitely is able to choose the right politician who represents public benefits and guide business/technology developing direction.

On the other hand, from an economical point of view, businesses are affected by and tightly bounded to the stock market. To understand this idea, one needs to understand stocks. It seems that a small group of rich people owns most of the fortune on this world, and public does not have enough money to affect the stock price. That is, however, not exactly true because stock value is counted as part of the riches' fortune, which is not estate or substances. In fact, stock is expectation, is how the public think one company worth. The mechanism beneath is: a company starts its initial public offering (IPO) -- their stocks are trading in the stock market (with a price). If the public thinks this company has potential, in other words, the public likes the business that this company is doing, the stock price will go up. The company sells its stock to the market to gather cash. Also, the company is able to get more loan from the bank. Now with all this cash, the company is able to buy new machines, hire more engineers, and invest more money into researches. In such way, the business/technology starts to developing faster. Let's return to the beginning(IPO). What if the public does not like the company's business? Quite straightforward, the stock price is low, and the company cannot get all the cash for further developing. For example, in the past decade, IT and IT-related industry, such as Google, Amazon, social networks, smart device company, were booming. This is because the public loves these business and invests money into these companies. Therefore, I think public is capable of deciding what types of technology receive more resources and thus develop faster.

Although the above two methods demonstrate how public steers business, these two methods are very limited. Choosing politicians to support policy that represents public's attitude is feasible only in political stable, and especially, democratic country. Only handful countries meet such category -- highly developed western country. In Africa, some countries are not politically stable. In Asia, some countries have severe corruption among the politicians. In China, people cannot decide where the party invests the taxes into. With respect to the "stock" method, there are countless poor people who do not have the money to invest at all.

In conclusion, what I am trying to point out is that there are methods for public to steer business, and by utilizing these methods properly, more people can get involved into steering business, at least more than Prof. Woodhouse mentions in the book. However, majority of the world population are still troubled by poverty and almost have no politic influence. Those are the people who really need help. Their benefit are compromised. Their will are neglected, and it is not just necessary but also urgent to develop methods to speak for them .

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