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Solidarity, Strategy, and the Meaning of Business

Solidarity, Strategy, and the Meaning of Business

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter One Solidarity, Strategy, and the Meaning of Business
Source:
Solidarity in Strategy
Author(s):
Lyn Spillman
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226769554.003.0001

This chapter challenges the assumption that business is necessarily conducted as self-interested action in the pursuit of profit. To examine how profit-oriented firms and businesspeople make sense of their interested action, the chapter analyzes their discourses and strategies of action in contemporary American business associations. Then, exploring the meaning-making about business that actually goes on in these settings, it shows that businesspeople often understand themselves as disinterested rather than self-interested actors. They often think of what they are doing in terms of technical expertise, professionalism, stewardship of the public good and occupational community, and these vocabularies of motive are a constitutive part of many business identities. The chapter argues that the pursuit of strategic interest in competitive profit seeking is conditioned by and relies on institutions and discourses transcending strategic interests, and that such institutions and discourses make capitalist economic action routinely meaningful.

Keywords:   self-interested action, profit seeking, American businesses, business strategy, competitive profit, professionalism

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