Greed and Corruption in Business
Year 13 students recently attended a stimulating public lecture at the University of Reading given by Professor John Hendry, the Head of the University’s Business School, on the subject of greed and corruption in business and government.
The following extract gives a flavour of this fascinating topic.
Power, as Lord Acton famously observed, tends to corrupt. So too does money. Without the driving force of financial self-interest, the business enterprise will rarely succeed, but with that self-interest there is always a risk that hunger will turn to greed and that individuals will seek profit at the expense of those entitled to it, whether shareholders, employees, pensioners or the public purse.
Put business and government together and these risks are compounded. In many countries and in many sectors of the economy (oil, arms and gambling to name the most obvious) businesses depend on corruptible officials for either their custom or their licence to operate. And politicians and officials need business cash flows to turn their power into money.
Focusing on these areas of mutual dependence, this lecture explores the space between the human ideal, that people should always behave morally, and the human reality, that sometimes they don't. How far should we tolerate greed and corruption as "necessary evils" of business practice and wealth creation? Who should we hold accountable when things go badly wrong? And who should we blame?
Professor Hendry gave us a fascinating account of his thoughts on business and government in, what he has termed, a bimoral society. The Business Studies Department at St Gabriel’s will take advantage of these public lectures more in the future as the university develops to become a world class centre of excellence in all aspects of business education following the recent announcement of its merger with The Henley Business School.