Investment banks play a key role in business. In providing the funding, they set the rules for the business investment. They also play the role of broker in mergers, again setting the tone for the success of the merger. Yet they are a “short-term” player in the sense that they get paid when the deal is done and are often long gone when the operational challenges come. In our increasingly short-term focused business world, an important factor in business ethics issues, what interest do investment bankers have in the longer term success of the business? These questions formed the basis for my discussion with Rob Pace, a senior partner at Goldman Sachs. Read his views starting on p. 6.
Henry Petersen, assistant professor of management at Seattle Pacific University, wrote the essay for this issue on the merits of corporate social responsibility on p. 18. He has been doing research in this area and sites some of his new results.
In Technology Watch on p. 4, I explore the potential business impact for social networking. MySpace profiles might at best be a distraction for business people, but the technology offers some significant business promise on many fronts. I include some comments from James Sun, founder of Zoodango, a business-oriented social networking tool.
The Forum responses on p. 17 are intriguing. This is not a scientific survey, but the responses raise an interesting research question. Are most people dissatisfied with their work? In Saving the Corporate Soul, David Batstone wrote, “Corporate workers from the mailroom to the highest executive office express dissatisfaction with their work. They feel crushed by widespread greed, selfishness, and quest for profit at any cost.” I would hypothesize that while almost everyone can find dissatisfaction in their work, most also find significant satisfaction. Unscientific responses suggest this. A well-planned research project, getting at both the satisfaction and dissatisfaction, is needed.
Next issue, we will talk with Ken Melrose, recently retired chairman and CEO of Toro. He has some thoughtful ideas on managing product-liability issues.
As this issue goes to press, I am preparing for a return to the Central African Republic. We did a special issue on this country late last year (issue #50). Our goal is to do some business training in the continued effort to help with micro-enterprise development. Look for some follow-up comments in the next issue.