I’m enjoying Bartley Madden’s Value Creation Thinking. Madden has much real-world experience in business from his years as a managing director at Credit Suisee HOLT. He’s also read deeply into the ethics and economics literature.
We all know the complaints about the business world — corporations enjoy low public trust, “capitalism” is a dirty word for many, Enron-type cases seem to proliferate, the financial system has suffered near-meltdowns, and increasing cronyism and the pressures to participate in the corruption anger and dispirit everyone.
Madden’s answer is to make value creation fundamental:
“All the major participants in our complex socioeconomic system need to better understand how value is created and shared as well as the process by which free-market capitalism — not crony capitalism — enables everyone to rise as high as their skills and determination can take them.” (p. 4)
Too many moral discussions of business ethics are limited to attacking greed and praising charity, when the most important moral value in business is making value. Madden engages well the theoretical issues and integrates discussion of actual examples of moral business professionals — i.e., those who achieve business success in both senses by entrepreneurial value creation — e.g., John Allison, T. J. Rodgers, and John Mackey among them.
* On the ethics: my “What Business Ethics Can Learn from Entrepreneurship.”
* On the economics: Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz’s From Poverty to Prosperity: Intangible Assets, Hidden Liabilities and the Lasting Triumph over Scarcity.