Consumer Sovereignty


Mainstream economics uses some simple starting points; it believes that they are the best possible. First is that agents have more wants than they can attain, so that they feel scarcity; in fact, for practical purposes, wants are assumed to be endless. Second, third and fourth are that agents are self-interested, rational, and the best judges of their own well-being. These four assumptions are indeed usually good starting points, rather than starting by assuming that agents are completely fulfilled, altruistic, irrational, and not well-placed to evaluate their own situation. They are not equally good as finishing points. Sometimes good arguments exist for not accepting them.

An assumption that agents are the best judges of their own well being is less questionable for businesspeople and corporations, given the resources they have for analysis. Debate focuses more on consumers. The phrase consumer sovereignty is sometimes read descriptively, to mean that consumers are sovereign, in that procedures are induced via profit-seeking and competition  to provide what consumers want. Sometimes it is read normatively, to mean that consumers should be sovereign, their wishes should prevail concerning what is good for them. The normative claim can rest on three different bases: that consumers do make good choices; that the alternative stance is worse – to use someone else’s judgments and estimates of what is good for a person and how good it is; or quite differently, that people have the right to make their own choices and mistakes.

Consumers will not make good choices automatically and unconditionally. Our wants are not simple; for example, some are wants to not to have other wants (such as the desire to smoke or a compulsion to gamble). Establishing a mature balance between wants involves skills. Choice is also unlikely to bring satisfaction if taken on the basis of weak information. Markets often do not provide consumers with full and reliable information, for it is hard to exclude people from information and therefore to ensure payment for it, so its market supply is weakened. Instead, in a commerce-dominated society, one of the main types of information that adults get will be images that say the good life is obtained through high consumption of commodities; there is too little counteracting public information.

The issue of consumer sovereignty goes beyond whether choices are good for the chooser. Other people are affected. Some wants may thus be unacceptable, notably wants that bring harm to others, including even wants to harm others. Mainstream economists have unfortunately often taken a don’t-want-to-know approach to ethics in which they confuse acceptance of all wants with a value-neutral stance.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Organizational Planning to Compete


Many businesses have no long-term aspiration; they quite simply want to achieve something and then move on. This applies at times to both task-oriented commercial and non-commercial organizations.

Many individuals tasked with running an organization have little or no social interest in the long-term failure of it and limit their interest to the time that they will be responsible for (and indeed benefit from) the organization’s success. This can happen regardless of the aspirations of the organization’s stakeholders.

Some markets are so changeable that any detailed investment and planning for the future proves largely futile.

There are times when too great a concern for the future will detract attention from short-term priorities and damage an organization’s current prospects, which will in turn damage long-term prospects as well.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Constant Challenge


This is clear when you consider how people find jobs in the first place. For many people their whole career history is laced with luck and chance: being in the job market when a certain company was recruiting, seeing a certain advert, knowing someone who knew someone. Many people not in a true vocation have little real idea about the job or company they start working for before they actually start the job.

Some people pick losers and are repeatedly made redundant, or take several jobs before they find something that fits. Other people pick winners in the job lottery, walk into their first position and stay there all their working life.

Nothing wrong with that from a personal point of view, but the last thing these people want to do is rock the best by pushing themselves or indeed anyone else (except those lower down the pecking order) out of their comfort zones.

This inevitably creates stuffy, complacent business. What incentive is there for these people to take risks or leave when they don’t think they will ever find another job half as cushy as the current one?

What is more, when an employee has several years of service under their belt, disgruntled employers will duck this issue, thinking that they will be too costly and difficult to move on.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Attitudes: Essential Components


Regardless of exactly how you might feel, the attitudes you express may be recognized as consisting of three major components: an evaluative component, a cognitive component, and a behavioral component. They represent the basic building blocks of the definition of attitudes.

 Attitudes have a great deal to do with how we feel about something. Indeed, this aspect of attitude, its evaluative component, refers to our liking or disliking of ant particular person, item, or event (what might be called the attitude object, or the focus of our attitude). You may, for example, feel positively or negatively toward your boss, the scuplture in the lobby, or the fact that your company just landed a large contract.

 Attitudes involve more than feelings; they also involve knowledge—that is, what you believe to be the case about an attitude object. For example, you might believe that one of your coworkers is paid much more than you, or that your supervisor doesn’t know too much about the job. These beliefs, whether they are completely accurate or totally false, comprise the cognitive component of attitudes.

 As you might imagine, the things you believe about something (e.g.,”my boss is embezzling company funds”) and the way you feel about it (e.g., “I can’t stand working for him”) may have some effect on the way you are predisposed to behave (e.g., “I’m going to look for a new job”). In other words, attitudes also have a behavioral component—a predisposition to act in a certain way. It is important to note that such a predisposition may not actually be predictive of one’s behavior. For example, although you may be interested in taking a new job, you might not actually take one if a better position isn’t available or if there are other aspects of the job you like enough to compensate for the negative feelings. In other words, your intention to behave a certain way may or may not dictate how you actually will behave.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Marketing as an Information Function


Good information is a facilitator of successful marketing and indeed, seen in this light marketing management becomes first and foremost an information processing activity. The argument that information processing should be seen as the fifth ‘P’ in the marketing mix is based on a view of marketing as a ‘boundary-spanning’ activity, i.e., acting as the interface between the core of the organization and the marketing environment. Indeed, it has been argued that it is a largely through carrying out this boundary-spanning role, i.e., absorbing environmental uncertainty and interpretting the market environment for the rest of the organization, that market gains influence in strategic decision making. This involves, in essence, creating from the pool of information that the marketing environment represents a picture of the world which enables others in the organization to forecast, plan and make decisions. At its simplest, if the marketing department (or, it should be noted, some other subunit in the organization) does not convert the uncertainty of the marketing environment into a sales forecast, there is no basis for planning production, personnel requirements or the financing of operations.

 In this sense, the management of critical types of marketing information is at the very center of the status of marketing management and the implementation of the marketing concept in an organization.

 In these terms, the challenge to marketing executives is not simply to adopt the latest information technology but to actively manage the process of ‘environmental enactment’ in their organizations. The practical side of this argument is that marketing information is concerned with creating a picture of the marketplace for people in the organization which they will use in making the decisions. This picture is likely to be highly imperfect, but it provides a frame of reference for decision making. In this sense there are few imperatives more urgent for marketing executives, when for most organizations so much depends on their ability to understand and respond to demands for service, quality and responsiveness to the market.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Just about Vision


Vision implies imagery, and the outstanding leaders do create a world inside their heads, a vision of the future, which guides their day to day actions; it provides the coherent model. This is an ability that we all have but few of us employ. The vision is not an attainable end state, but rather a continuing process. There is no complete description—the patterns of our minds unfold beyond our ability to describe them. There is enough substance to make it almost tangible, yet sometimes it lurks in shadows. Sometimes it is alive with sound and brightness, and sometimes it is tranquil. But it is always connected at a deep level with the heart and with the gut.

Vision grows in the feedback-feedforward relationship between what might be (the word in the mind) and the present potential (the sensitive perception of the environment), and it thrives on difference. Indeed, vision seems ever elusive like the rainbow—wherever one moves, it is just beyond reach. Yet like the guiding star, it is powerfully reliable guide.

Since vision is systematic, it sees the parts and the whole in a way that the linear progression of words can never achieve. It can map the flow of the links of value from the heart of the business to the customer, and through the business to the stakeholders. It emphasizes the patterns that are the life of the business.

In order to build this hologram called vision, it is absolutely necessary to take a step back from the day-today issues. It is a qualitatively different mode of thinking than that of everyday management but will produce a level of certainty that informs each management decision. Allow some quite time in which you can really reflect in a relaxed state of mind. An easy walk in the country or a quiet evening alone provides suitable settings for most people.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight