James Post’s “Private Management and Public Policy” Named Stanford Business Classic

in Honors & Awards, Markets, Public Policy & Law, News, Social Impact
August 23rd, 2012

Seminal Text Re-Released for New Generation of Scholars, Practitioners

Post - Stanford Business Classics CoverStanford University Press has chosen Lee Preston and James Post’s Private Management and Public Policy: The Principle of Public Responsibility for their Business Classics Series, devoted to bringing the management field’s seminal texts to a new generation of leaders, researchers, and students.

Post is the John F. Smith, Jr. Professor in Management at Boston University and recipient of the Aspen Institute’s 2010 Faculty Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Lee Preston, who passed away in 2011 after a long and distinguished career, was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Logistics, Business, and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, and a Fellow of the Academy of Management.

Describing this new edition of Preston and Post’s book, which was originally published in 1975, Stanford University Press writes,

“Private Management and Public Policy is a landmark work at the intersection of business and society….The text develops the ‘principle of public responsibility’ as an alternative to the notion that firms have unlimited accountability…. Arguably, the book’s major contribution is its broad outline of an alternative theory of the firm in society—one that offers the possibility of overcoming traditional public and private dichotomies.”

Throughout, Preston and Post address three fundamental questions:

  1. What must business do to demonstrate responsiveness to social and political issues?
  2. What is the proper role of the corporation in the political arena?
  3. What are the limits of corporate responsibility in the modern world?

Of this third question, Post writes in a new introduction to the book,

 

“No firm can have unlimited responsibilities for everything, and yet no firm can reasonably expect society to hold it accountable for nothing.” 

“Corporate responsibility is a vital topic for twenty-first century companies and managers. No firm can have unlimited responsibilities for everything, and yet no firm can reasonably expect society to hold it accountable for nothing.  The difficult part for managers and citizens alike is to define logical limits of demarcation –and practical guidelines– based on what the firm actually does and the impact it actually has on society.   The principle of public responsibility, as it is called in this book, extends the firm’s responsibility to its primary involvement (those things it chooses to do) and secondary involvement (those impacts that flow from its primary activities), but no further.  The scope of responsibility may be great, depending on the size of the corporate footprint, but it is not unlimited.”

Read more about Private Management and Public Policy.