Administering a country versus managing an enterprise

It is often believed that a successful entrepreneur can effectively administer a country. It is not adequately valued that the objectives, interests, and circumstances of a corporation and a country are very different and, therefore, require different managerial criteria and abilities. Which are those differences and which are the risks of not considering them? What does corporate success entail and which is its foundation? Which are the criteria that better serve for evaluating a good administration of a country?

Let’s first see why enterprise men (and very few women entrepreneurs) access the administration of a country and, then, let us analyze the large differences that exist among these two types of management.

Where does the notion of an entrepreneur capable of administering a country come from?

Let us mention that the prevailing context in the world today is of a huge concentration of wealth and decisional power. From there, powerful economic groups emerge who, operating globally, impose courses and ways of functioning that serve their interests. They count on local complicities within critical segments of the media, judiciary, and politics, as well as with strategic think tanks that provide them with ideological coverage and with educational spaces that instill values and knowledge that are functional to them. An institutional arsenal that allows for formatting subjectivities and subduing population segments through colonizing minds and wills. It is a process that operates in the shadows of politics and markets and needs to be reverted if we were to liberate captured democracies.

In this concentrating order, it is not surprising that dominators target for imposing related groups and individuals to administer countries. In many cases, they come from corporate actions where they are considered “successful.” Then, it is worth stating the meaning of being successful in the world of large enterprises (leaderships of medium and, even less, of small enterprises are not valued the same).

In these fields, successful is the one who maximizes profit of a corporation, who through gains, acquisitions, and perks is able to make it grow cycle after cycle. Apart from honorable exceptions, it does not matter if the “winners” have abused their market power to fix prices for consumers and suppliers, eliminate competitors, win bids corrupting officials, or lobby for establishing privileged relationships with incumbent government. Why expurgate the way in which successful corporate leaderships emerge if these practices form a common denominator in every market of the world. Impunity goes hand-in-hand with little transparency of the spaces where they operate, what allows them for covering up non sanctum aspects of any corporate track record.

These behaviors are induced, encouraged, or forced by dynamics of high competitiveness. It is proved that those who within capitalism do not fully exercise their power of concentrating results, elbowing their way, and eliminating or absorbing competitors, can be displaced from their supremacy place and, eventually, disappear. It is a harsh and merciless dynamic of “kill or die;” either the reproduction of privilege is secured by growing concentration, or one is ousted of the dominator role. Despite the unfathomable destiny that such harsh dynamic generates at a systemic level, there are those who say that capitalism has turned into an eternal system, the last of the systems that mark humanity development. They pretentiously ignore that the history of systems is the history of the collapse of systems.

Shortfalls and biases of entrepreneurs set to administer a country

Corporate officials called on to administer a country tend not to be the own owners of corporations rather their directors, managers, or relatives especially chosen by those who represent the economic power.

What are they missing and what do they have in excess? They lack expertise in working with a complex diversity of objectives instead of having maximizing profit as the main organizing principle; for them other decisions will be important inasmuch as they can secure a concentrating growth. What they have in excess are corporate interests and biases that are inconsistent with the general wellbeing and protection of the environment. They promote a perspective for minimizing any regulation that might obstruct or slow down their growth capacity, as if it were not necessary to balance their greed with longings and needs of other actors that have been acquiring rights which are not willing to surrender.

In a full democracy, it is not conceivable that the entire population be subordinated to the interest of the concentrated capital; on the contrary, the economy and the productive systems should serve the general wellbeing and the protection of the environment. Everybody’s freedom, of course including that of the entrepreneurs, is an essential right though not unlimited; it is conditioned by securing equity and sustainability of the whole society. Therefore, it is unacceptable the unbridled tendency of prioritizing their own interests, that of the entrepreneurs placed to administer the country.

When the State is controlled by the economic power, it loses perspective to orientate and regulate corporate decisions in function of the general wellbeing and the protection of the environment. This happens in the majority of countries where such multiplicity of decisions guided by individual interests influence categorically over how the economic system is structured and functions without considering the eventual systemic impacts they produce. That is, through decisions adopted based merely on the lucrative zeal, a productive matrix with serious dysfunctionalities is stablished and, at the same time, a way of functioning of the main value chains that disproportionately favors leading enterprises.

When “every man for himself” prevails, all sorts of bottlenecks are generated that derail every effort of sustainable national development. One of the worst bottlenecks is that of the external sector, expressed as recurrent lack of currency when export growth is not able to sustain the combination of growing demand for imports plus interests and amortizations of over indebtedness. Each corporate decision could have been legitimate from their narrow perspective but very disruptive seen from the systemic derangements it produces. What is tragic is that when crises arise the most affected are always middle and popular sectors.

By controlling the State, economic power imposes regressive tax policies (those who have the least pay more) which, in addition to a lax control over evaders and capital flight practiced by large enterprises, place an overburden on middle and working sectors regarding public financing. In this way, the underfinancing of the State produced by large evaders and poor political management generates frequent fiscal deficits that, instead of being tackled by correcting those factors, are addressed with hard adjustments that asphyxiate the economy, deepen the inequalities, and severely affect the general wellbeing.

For entrepreneurs placed to administer a country, population is just another input whose wage and social security cost must be reduced. The actors they consider relevant are the investors, financial entities, risk-assessment companies, international value chains to which they try to integrate, marketing, image advisors, publicists and the entourage of other professionals that form their working teams. Population majorities count only marginally, except if they threaten the reproduction of the status quo.

Administering a country

As noted before, administering a country implies promoting the general wellbeing and protection of the environment. However, there is a diversity of interpretations regarding what is general wellbeing and a variety of strategic options to work solutions; solutions that favor everybody without leaving behind or excluding anybody. Likewise, environmental protection finds some who conceive nature as a resource to exploit with few restrictions; for others, the environment is the existential support of humanity and, as such, must be preserved for present and future generations.

Administering a country involves great complexities such as solving existent huge inequalities and, at the same time, securing the functioning of an effective productive system. To achieve that, it will be necessary to dismantle the engines that sustain concentration, substantially enhance living conditions that overwhelm population, eliminate poverty and indigence, secure women’s rights and protection of children, the elderly, and discriminated minorities, close territorial gaps, democratize the media, enhance judicial system, make politics financing transparent, securing health and education of excellence for all, develop national science and technology. And the challenges go on and on and, also, are renewed and transformed through time. No few options exist regarding how to tackle and solve them and with which consequences.

In this whirlwind of circumstances and tensions, concentrated groups keep on accumulating wealth and decisional power while they propose that population majorities should sacrifice to reap eventual rewards in an uncertain future. It is not believable such perspective as experience shows that inequalities trigger systemic consequences and are only reduced with active redistributive policies of assets and income.

Finally, in a country coexist diversity of visions, longings, needs, interests, values, strengths, weaknesses, pettiness and selflessness. All this needs to be conciliated in a way that the country can function and fragmentation of society is reverted or reduced. We will need to work with effectiveness and good balance to achieve it in order to have solid grounds for building those very much needed social and productive agreements. This is one huge and complex task that politics permanently addresses with the help of teams trained for this function; it is hard to believe that such complexity could be addressed by entrepreneurs with different abilities and unavoidable biases.

How can we reconcile this vast universe of longings, emotions, needs, interests, behaviors applying the verticality of corporate decision? In a corporation, there are owners, directors, managers, middle staff, workers that form a chain of command essentially vertical, despite the eventual spaces for debate and suggestions. Owners command with the support of directors and managers. In a country, there are no owners, there should not be, even though some groups act as if they were.

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