19. "What is the final objective of business? It is to make the obtaining of a living- the obtaining of food, clothing, shelter, and a minimum of luxuries-so mechanical and so little time-consuming that people shall have time for other things."--A business leader, circa 1930
Explain what you think the quotation above means and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the view of business it expresses. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
The arguer suggests that the ultimate purpose of business is to streamline and mechanize work, thereby minimizing it, so that people can make a living but still have time for other things in life. The assumptions behind this view of business are that the value of work is entirely instrumental, and that our work lives are distinct from the rest of our lives. I disagree with both assumptions.
Admittedly, work is to a large extent instrumental in that we engage in it to provide for our basic needs while leaving time and resources for other activities-raising families, participating in civic life, traveling, pursuing hobbies, and so forth. And these activities normally take place away from the workplace and are distinct from our work. However, for most people, work is far more than a means to these ends. It can also be engaging, enjoyable and fulfilling in itself. And it can provide a context for expressing an important part of one's self. However, work will be less of all these to the extent that it is streamlined and mechanized for quick disposal, as the quotation recommends. Instead, our jobs will become monotonous and tedious, the work of drones. And we might become drone-like in the process.
In addition, work can to some extent be integrated with the rest of our lives. More and more companies are installing on-site daycare facilities and workout rooms. They are giving greater attention to the ambiance of the breakroom, and they are sponsoring family events, excursions and athletic activities for employees as never before. The notion behind this trend is that when a company provides employees with ways to fulfill outside needs and desires, employees will do better work. I think this idea has merit.
In conclusion, I admit that there is more to life than work, and that work is to some extent a means to i provide a livelihood. But to suggest that this is the sole purpose of business is an oversimplification that ignores the self-actualizing significance of work, as well as the ways it can be integrated with other aspects of our lives.