Sunday, November 06, 2005

Interview with Stuart Hart on the Bottom of the Pyramid

Here are a few interesting quotes I found in a short interview with Professor Stuart Hart on the latest developments around the Bottom of the Pyramid concept in an interview in Business Ethics Magazine.

"Western capitalists need to enlist the entire human community in the capitalist dream, which is about pulling yourself up. Unless we can do that for everyone — in a way that respects local culture and doesn’t destroy underlying ecosystems — global capitalism is in trouble".

"When C.K. Prahalad and I started working on this in 1998, people thought we were nuts. Nobody would publish it. It became an underground paper on the Internet, getting a fair amount of corporate visibility. The inflection point was Sept. 11. After that, it was published almost immediately, coming out in Strategy and Business in January 2002. Suddenly people could see how this way of thinking had implications for security, because it deals with the roots of terrorism".

"We’re also looking at creating a worldwide network of collaborating BOP labs at other business schools".

If you have thoughts or experiences to share around this intriguing BOP concept, please enter your Comments.


Blogger Tommy said...

Well, it is not entirely true that what Professor Stuart Hart and C.K. Prahalad do has had publishing difficulties prior to september 11 -business ethics is older than that. However, he (Stuart) is right that after 7/11 it has been a lot easier to publish text about ethical dilemmas, Corporate Citizenship, sustainability etc. But, what kind of text are produced today, and what is the kind that is published? It is exactly the kind of texts that Hart and Prahalad writes: texts that do problematize how capitalist order could be better, but they do it from the viewpoint that the current way of doing things actually is the way to do it. In other words, they are not "out of the black box" and the firm beleif of Eternal Progress that we have on our planet today. The myth of Eternal Progress is the firm beleif in technology and the humans right to dominate planet earth, and the firm beleif that the negative side effects created can be repaired by a quite small amount of the economic surplus created, and of course the rest of the surplus can be investigated in technology, firms and so on. This line of thinking is underpinned by the thoughts of:

1. We have to learn them how to create market economies (often we are the westerners and nowadays them are very likely to be the muslisms, before it was the Africans, but they are now long forgotten...).
2. It is possible both to boost living conditions - which is equal to material conditions - the same time as it is possible to save planet earth. An equation that to many researchers (as I am) is an impossible idea. A decrease in material conditions is necessary, and we in the west has to start...

3. A market economy is a necessity in order to have a democracy (visible amongs others in the term corporate citizenship.

Having read Professor Stuart Hart and C.K. Prahalad I am afraid that they represent exactly this kind of thinking - and they get published. Texts and ideas outside this thinking - for instance colonial theory - are more difficult to publish.


Tommy Jensen
PhD/Senior lecturer
Umeå School of Business and Economics

10:03 PM  

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