Responsible Business, Civil Society, and Government in an Open Society
The author analyses competition as one of four coordinating mechanisms helping agents mutually to orientate their actions, avoid chaos, and produce social order. Competition is a key dimension of developed societies. It helps to structure and is also conducive to social change. Competing agents constrain one another, making it hard for anyone to change their position. They discover new routines the best of which may later be institutionalized. Competition is a solvent of power but only in relatively equal societies. Entrenched wealth or status restricts competition, thus impoverishing social order. The author also evaluates the theory of competition to explore such topics as corporate social responsibility, relations between government, business and civil society, and reflexivity in social sciences.
Chapter 3: Competition and Strategy
This chapter expands on the theory of competition. It elaborates on the concept of strategy and compares it with the over-rational Weberian instrumental rationality, over-socialised Parsonian voluntary action, and utility maximisation in the rational choice paradigm. It goes on to explore relations of the concept of strategy with other related ones: plan, theory, identity, script. It delves into distinctions between open-ended competition and zero-sum rivalry, self-interest and private interest and private versus public value. It formulates several theses about various features of competition. The chapter concludes with an investigation of conditions that are necessary for competition to engage and those in which competition excels as a coordinating mechanism.
According to Alasdair McIntyre (1982), some ethical issues are insoluble for two reasons: scarcity of resources and different notions of good held by different people. Each of this reasons would be enough but in fact both are present, and will be in foreseeable future. If free people are to live together but cannot agree how, then they will live alongside one another and do their own thing, in effect – they will compete.
Similar points were made by Berlin. The two main currents in his thought: liberal freedom and ethical pluralism are especially relevant to a study of competition. In his conception of liberalism people are rooted in their communities and bring their particular values when interacting with others who may hold different values. Importantly, values need not be comparable on any common scale. Values we inherited,...
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