Readings for this meeting: K. Arrow, The Limits of Organization Ronald Coase, The Firm, The Market, and The Law Chester Barnard, The Functions of the Executive Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenburg Galaxy

October 13, 1998
Meeting with Jiro Kokuryo and Masakata Morita

Readings for this meeting:
K. Arrow, The Limits of Organization
Ronald Coase, The Firm, The Market, and The Law
Chester Barnard, The Functions of the Executive
Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenburg Galaxy

We began the discussion talking about the ways that Arrow, Coase and Barnard describe the necessity and the method by which organizations are form are become required. Although while I was reading Barnard, much of what he wrote felt rather redundant and not-so-significant, in the context of trying to describe organizations, I found myself continually coming back to frameworks and metaphors that were proposed by Barnard. The most important aspect in our discussion was the idea that organizations are not merely ways to make economics factors more efficient, but things like vision, authority, responsibility and many other factors guide the function as well as the raison d'etre of organizations. Barnard best described this.

From this discussion, we talked more about the raison d'etre of organizations and Kokuryo-san proposed that maybe we cooperate for the sake of cooperating. What is happiness anyway? Just belonging to an organization can be happiness. This ties into the idea "what is utility anyway?" and other big questions. If the purpose of economy is to optimize utility in society and utility is supposed to make us happy then...

"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" is in the constitution of the United States of America. So shouldn't we be talking about happiness instead of utility? This then connects to Alexis de 's observation that American's do not have equality, but opportunity and "Liberty." The happiness that comes from choice and liberty are is a very strange kind of happiness indeed in that it comes from an infinite ability to have aspirations, but a very difficult time reaching goals. I think Simon talks about the utility function in terms of aspirations and satisfaction. If happiness can be defined in this way, it becomes exceedingly obvious that many of the things that affect our happiness can not be purchased, thus are not connected to the utility function.

Marx might say that labor is a major part of value and that exchange value can not replace the labor value. Bauldrillard might say that sign value can make us happy. Goldhaber would probably say that attention makes us happy. Still... a lot of this we can buy. I wonder if there is anything significant that makes us happy that you really can not buy. What is it and how does it act? This is the question that I am concerned about...

1 Comment

I've also written a bit on Chester Barnard. I think the reading list is great but I'd also add some material from Oliver Williamson to the list.

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Chester Barnard from M. Mortazavi's Weblog
August 11, 2004 10:49 AM

I have started reading Chester Barnard 's The Functions of the Executive . It has been recommended by professor Oliver Williamson ( Economics , Law School and School of Business at UC Berkeley ) as an important work. Professor Williamson Read More

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