Higher Education for Business

By Robert Aaron Gordon; James Edwin Howell | Go to book overview

chapter 4
BUSINESS AS AN OCCUPATION

IF BUSINESS SCHOOLS exist to educate students for personally fruitful and socially useful careers in business and related types of activity, we cannot avoid asking: what is a business career and what is a businessman?


The Market for Business School Graduates

To ask this question is to suggest the wide and multifarious range of activities that constitute the business world: managing a small business; selling, from the itinerant peddler and the clerk behind the counter to the top sales engineers and sales managers of the largest companies; the "line" activities of foremen and factory superintendents; the direction and coordination by "top executives" in companies with from hundreds to tens of thousands of employees; the work of a host of staff experts; all the kinds of work that go on in advertising agencies, in real estate firms, in banks and insurance companies, in railroads, airlines, and shipping companies, in all kinds of retail establishments, not to mention the varieties of manufacturing and mining, gas and electric and telephone companies, and all the other industries listed in the census classifications.

What are the common elements in this vast congeries of activities? One answer might run as follows. Business firms are organizations which engage in some sort of socially useful activity primarily for private gain. A person can be said to be engaged in the practice of business when his position requires that he be concerned with how some aspect (or all) of a business firm's activities contributes to the firm's organizational objectives, particularly to the objective of profit-making. Or, in more familiar terms, we are concerned with those who manage or administer the affairs of business concerns--and of nonprofit organizations that govern themselves to an important degree by economic criteria. By "manage" we mean three things: 1) making the decisions that determine the course of a firm's activities, including determining and evaluating the alternatives from which choices are to be made, 2) supervising the organizational ar

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