Have more or less concluded reading Schumacher's Small is Beautiful and must say it was time well spent. I'm certainly on the track of seeing beauty and humanness in smallness!
At the end of the book Schumacher explores some themes that would seem quite interesting in light of recent events on financial markets. He has a whole chapter on ownership that should be mandatory reading in business school. I'm not saying one must agree, but what I do say is that one MUST be aware of such alternatives and perspectives that he discusses.
The business world is very one-sided in it's capitalistic views – even now. Now here is an idea that popped into my head after reading Schumacher's chapter on ownership:
What would happen in the economy and in ecology if we had laws that said that after a company had reached a certain size it would be turned over to public ownership? When companies are become very big they become a big societal concern. They use up "free" public resources, create dependencies, generate waste, etc – all on a more massive scale than small businesses.
If one wants to avoid public ownership the sollution would be to split up into smaller units as one grows. With the probable effect that the overall negative consequences of the businesses would be minimized. Smaller scale: more human, smaller ecological footprint. That is the logic I see.
The really big businesses would be under control of our democratic institutions. Profit maximaization and thus over exploitation of people and environment could be curbed – if this was the priority of the people.
Granted, this is not what we are seeing today in Swedish state owned businesses like Vattenfall… But I still think that is more a result of skewed mission definitions and goal formulations. There must be several kinds of interpretations of what "public interest" should be. The current one being profit maximization…