Business Of Business Is Business

The business of business is business. Discuss.

Asked on by vinjam

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

People often talk about how businesses should have a "social conscience."  They mean that businesses should act in ways that are meant to promote some greater societal good.  This quote is saying that that is a silly notion -- instead, the only reason for a firm to exist is to do business.

I agree with this statement, at least for publicly traded companies.  If a company issues stock, its only real responsibility is to make money for its shareholders.  Of course, it must obey laws along the way, but its responsibility is to make as much money as possible.

Privately held firms are different.  Their business is to do whatever their owners want.  If the owner wants to use the firm for philanthropic purposes, that is fine.  But fundamentally, the point of a firm is to make money, not to have a social conscience.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that the quotation is discussing how the nature of business is one that promulgates itself and develops in its own right.  In the quote, the "business" of "business" is meant to mean that the nature or purpose of commerce or transactions is to continue itself in the form of further growth.  The quote seems to be arguing that economic expansion and advancement in the realm of business is its very nature and within this, one can justify how development and advancement are critical to the nature of business.  There is little else within business except for the development and enhancement of what is there.  In this light, business is not meant to develop social orders or intended to do anything else but rather grow and continue its own lifespan.  It is within this vein that the nature of business is to continue itself in the form of more business.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The word business has may different meanings. Answer to this question will very much depend on the meaning of the word in each of the three places it is used in the question. This is not clear from the question itself. So I will interpret it in a way that appears to be most appropriate to me.

I believe the intended meaning  of the statement:

The business of business is business.

is that business (work) of a business (an enterprise engaged in commercial activities) is business (commercial activities such as buying and selling). The last use of the word business also implies that the commercial activities are undertaken for the purpose of making profit.

When taken in this sense, the validity of the statement is obvious. If an enterprise qualifies as a business because it is engaged in commercial activities, there can be no doubt that it primary work must be to engage in commercial activities. A responsible business enterprise may pay attention to to non-commercial objectives and activities also. But such work done by it is in addition to its main work. No enterprise qualifies as a business enterprise if it does no commercial work for the purpose of making profit.

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