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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Ethics and Leadership


There are several different types of leaders:

  1. Universal Leaders: Those who believe that ethics has no business in the workplace. Their decisions are not guided by ethical principles. They tend to operate out of personal and pragmatic motives with less concern for the altruistic or idealistic implications of their decisions. This does not mean that every decision is unethical, merely that the ethics of the decision is not considered when it is made.
  2. Ethical Leaders: Those who are personally ethical in word, thought, and deed and conduct their decision making openly so that they are perceived as ethical even from a distance. Not only do these leaders consider the ethical consequences of their decisions, in addition to the individualistic and pragmatic, but also it is obvious to the observer that this is the case. They make a point of ensuring that the ethical aspects of their decision-making process are as valuable and transparent as they are pragmatic. Additionally, ethical leaders are attentive to culture and symbol aspects of how they act out the “moral manager’s” role. They understand that their actions and decisions communicate symbolically as well as literally.
  3. Ethically Neutral Successful Leaders: Those who are personally ethical in word, thought, and deed, but are not open about it. These leaders may not be perceived as ethical from a distance. They are often viewed as not paying adequate attention to the ethical component of their decisions, not because the outcome is unethical, but rather because their decision-making process is not readily apparent.
  4. Hypocritical Leaders: Those who deliberately choose to act unethically.

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.

Construing Development


Development may refer to a desired end state, or the precondition which permits what is desired. If the latter, then it easily links to neutral definitions of development as a type of fundamental change. Instrumental definitions have long been popular, with development seen as providing opportunity to achieve what one wants, allowing choice between different goods and ways of life.

Development embraces not only access to goods and services, but also the opportunity to choose a fully satisfying, valuable and valued way of living together, the flourishing of human existence in all its forms and as a whole.

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.

Marketing Communication


Communication is a constant activity. It is universal and essential feature of human expression and organization. Its scope is as broad as society itself, for every social act involves communication. Communication is concerned with sending and receiving knowledge, ideas, facts, figures, goals, emotions and values. It is much more than an occasional technique employed to convey a message. It is a ceaseless activity of all human beings, and therefore also of all human organizations. Communication is also a central element of the way in which people relate to and cooperate with each other, interpersonal event which is the building block of society. Individuals not only send and receive information in order to cooperate, but parallel with this individuals are constantly communicating their self-images to all around them. Whether we like it or not, whatever a person does as a social act will be observed by others, and is therefore a communication about themselves.

 Communication is more than a marketing tool. It is also an important basis of culture. It has fostered language and music, literature and philosophy, science and poetry. So in one sense, communication can be viewed as neutral and benign, a form of human interaction which helps society and the organizations within it to work well, and which can only benefit those who take part in it. This would be a reasonable approach to a definition if every communication included everything that could possibly be said on a subject, but of course this would be impossible. Communication is a selective art, as important for what it does not convey as for what it does convey.

 Communication is also a human skill, so it is concerned with the state of mind of the communicator, and with the state of mind of the person intended to receive the communication. Communications objectives are often specified as outcomes of attitude change.

 Does this mean that marketing communication is propaganda? To qualify as propaganda, business communication must be seeking to influence the emotional attitudes of others without allowing them to make an effective or rational choice. This is never the situation in business, where in every market there are competitors, and for every product or service there is an alternative or substitute. Indeed, the existence of competition is now arguably a necessary precondition for business strategy. Communication by a business is a creative form of differentiation, always competitive, always seeking to persuade customers, shareholders and employees that its own market offerings are the best choice available. That is the sales pitch of the marketplace, not the imperative of propaganda.

 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

Knowing about Cartel


A cartel is a group of firms combining to restrict output and raise price, the aim being to balance as a collective monopoly. Each firm in a cartel agrees to produce less than it would under unrestrained competition, in order to drive the price up so that all in the group will benefit.

Cartels can only raise prices by cutting firm outputs. But at the higher prices, member firms are motivated to produce even more than at competitive equilibrium. So the more successful the cartel, the greater the incentive to chisel. Carters therefore require enforcement devices to prevent chiseling. In a number of European countries, the law may treat a cartel agreement as a legality enforceable contract. Some jurisdictions take a neutral position: the cartel agreement is not unlawful, but the power of the state will not enforce it. Finally, the law may be actively hostile to cartels as “consipiracies in restraint of trade.” In such a situation a cartel would require enforcement devices that are both effective and secret—an unlikely combination when any detected chiseler can complain to the authorities.

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

Responses to change


Responses to a major impetus for change vary. Although some persons think that resistance to change is “natural,” everyone seeks some change. The key is whether or not the change is perceived as being helpful, neutral, or hurtful. This is an important point, because it indicates that resistance to change is only a sympton. It only tells us that the individual or social systyem resisting the change perceives it as being on balance, harmful rather than helpful. Thus, resistance can be viewed as a signal that further diagnosis is required rather than something automatically to be overcome. The conclusion is not shared regarding the need for a major change and all of the risks this entails.

 

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