In September of 2010 Berlin Museum of Economics and Business administration: scholars rummaged up a yellowed cardboard with the inscription “The Honorable Merchant” in a dusty chamber named “Department of Stored Concepts.” Inside, they detected 10 tablets, each inscribed with a single sentence in ancient handwriting.
- One goes: “The honorable merchant respects the interests of the owners.”
- Another one: “The honorable merchant supports the common welfare in the society.”
- This one’s also nice: “The honorable merchant aims his actions to virtues that create long-term confidence.”
Certainly, anybody today will define current incidents on each of these old-fashioned Words-Of-Wisdom: Hostile takeovers, House banking scandal, Health care fraud … you can find seemingly endless lists of considerable companies that are convicted of felony offenses, and they’re still in business – or to say it in better words: still busy in corporate crime. In today’s markets economy the antiquated doctrines above seem to be not very useful. The moldy cardboard is probably at the right place, slowly rotting in the department of stored concepts.
Are practices that are morally reprehensible the contemporary vision of our global management caste?
The term “The Honorable Merchant” originates from the 12th century, shaped in the German Hanseatic League and Italy. It was a guiding principle in those ages, but buried in oblivion for the last centuries. Currently it is on everyone’s lips, i.e. the Humboldt University in Berlin (the guys who found the cardboard) now seriously wants to reintroduce the “Virtues Of The Honorable Merchant” in today’s faculties for Management and Business economics — as they declare, not for moral reasons, but because of the stability of society!
My two cents: As an entrepreneur, one should always be conscious about the virtues of decent trade and correct action, anyway. Who is cheating has no customers. But I’m just a bod, the man on the street.