Business and nature are intertwined. Business managers need to understand this linkage of business and nature if they are to do their job well.
Natural corporate management is an expression, a manifestation, a consequence of a long -- very long and ancient -- evolutionary process. What managers do -- their behavior, the goals they pursue for their firms, their competitive strategies, the ways they organize people and resources for production -- all of these are natural phenomena in the most literal sense. Nature here means the basic, organic, bodily, physical, chemical, biological makeup of people and the natural environments they live in -- a vast and highly diverse and constantly changing pageantry of natural forces. It also is literally true that managerial decisions made today reflect not just current natural forces but traces of the most primordial, time-distant aspects of the natural universe. It is a bit like astrophysicists observing the [phantomlike] background radiation left over from the universe's Big Bang origins. Business practices today are bathed in a similar cosmic glow stemming from the moment of our own human beginnings. As odd as it may seem, the Big Bang continues to light up actions and decisions taken in today's corporate boardrooms and executive suites.
The evolutionary cascade started at the beginning of the universe with the Big Bang, which ushered in what was to become the entire panoply of existence, life, time and whatever meanings were to be associated with this primal event. The Big Bang created not just a universe but, equally important, set in motion a process of change and evolution that has never stopped.
Once Energy evolution began, it took various forms that emerged ever so slowly: the appearance of Life along with the biospheres and ecosystems that sustain it. Then in successive steps onward to a Darwin portrait of life's evolution, to the Gene as evolution's steering mechanism, to the appearance of Humans and that fertile bundle of neurons we call a Brain, which spawned Symbolic behavior, continuing on to Organization as a mode of work, to economic exchange in the Market, and finally arriving at the Corporation's doorstep.
Standing at the end of this cascade of evolutionary phenomena, the corporation might be expected to become the inheritor and carrier of each of the cascading phases. Indeed it is, and that is why managers need to grasp the meaning of natural corporate management.
Natural corporate management (NCM) is a new way of thinking about the actions of the modern business corporation and the behavior of its managers. Its core premise is that corporate actions and behaviors are a direct consequence of natural forces -- astrophysical, biochemical, organic, and ecological -- which simultaneously promote and threaten the corporation's economic stature and its continued existence. The most important management trait evoked by these natural forces is an emergent, growing awareness or consciousness by managers that nature is of central importance to the successful management of the corporation. NCM is not a managerial method or technique, nor is it a set of how-to-do-it instructions for managers. Neither does it replace or contradict current concepts of how management is understood by practitioners and scholars. NCM rather is a reinterpretation, a reformulation, a new perspective of what it means and requires to manage a business firm. Its novelty stems from insights generated by a steady and cumulative flow of new multidisciplinary research on the origins and evolution of human and organizational behavior. The resultant behavioral focus of this innovative approach is thus cumulative, historical, continuity-oriented and -- especially important for managers -- appropriately practical, pragmatic and empirically grounded. NCM permits and encourages a range of managerial actions to secure the corporation's future. In that sense, the concept is supportive of business, not negatively critical.
Corporate managers need, first of all, to develop a conscious awareness of the natural forces that influence corporate activities at all levels and in all operational spheres of the organization, and, second, to learn whether, how, and when to integrate this new understanding of nature into workplace behavior.
The ultimate conclusion: This multifaceted naturological entity we call a corporation can find its way, its purpose, its mission, and its evolutionary fate by accepting and adhering to the principles of Natural Corporate Management, thereby embracing the entire realm of nature, planetary life and cosmic responsiveness.
Excerpts from "Natural Corporate Management: From the Big Bang to Wall Street," William C. Frederick. (Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishers, 2012). William C. Frederick is professor emeritus of the Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh.