POLÍTICA E EMPRESAS: A propósito de Política, partidos e empresas, o Financial Times tem hoje este artigo que me parece bem interessante e onde encontro reflectida a minha opinião sobre o assunto. Curiosamente o artigo é de um experiente profissional do mundo da publicidade:
Business and politics are worlds apart By Maurice Saatchi
Wherever businessmen gather these days, the subject soon turns to the faults of politicians. You often hear it said: “How incompetent they are!” And then, by way of comparison: “If only they were more like us.”
So it was that one chief executive recently denounced the political class for making decisions “on the back of a fag packet”. Another told the FT: “If I ran my business like that, I’d get the sack.” What the critics usually mean is that politicians should be more “businesslike”. Is that possible?
The record seems to show that there is no similarity between politics and business. They are parallel universes with their own solar systems, time zones and laws of gravity.
Consider regulation. Businesses are used to legislation that prevents them from preying on the innocent widows and orphans of humanity. “Facts” require verification. False or misleading statements bring severe penalties, enshrined in various Companies Acts. So business people ask: if the Financial Services Authority can supervise business, why cannot a Political Services Authority do the same for politics?
There have been many heroic attempts to impose such a regulator on politics. The latest effort ended when the Advertising Standards Authority threw up its hands in horror and withdrew altogether from scrutiny of party political advertisements. People said this was because politicians are inveterate liars. But is that it?
Imagine an election in which daffodil production was the number one issue. The government would say: “Daffodil production is up!” The opposition would say: “Daffodil production is down on last year.” Then, the government would say: “Daffodil production is higher than under the previous government!” The opposition would say: “Daffodil production is lower than the European Union average.”
The striking feature of this exchange is that everyone could be telling the truth. The regulators did not give up because politicians are liars, but because “objective truth” in politics is hard to find.
Noting public cynicism about politics, business critics say: “Wouldn’t we be better off with proper corporate governance procedures in politics – ie the chairman does this, the chief executive does that?” Just as in business, all neatly codified for easy reference.
Brave souls have sought to implement such a logical structure in a political party. In Britain, the Conservative party has done best, with a properly constituted board of directors, a majority of whom are non-executives and not paid party officials. But even that admirable structure could not stretch to the concept of a chief executive. When that was tried, the “CEO” understandably felt he had some claim to power. He thought he was entitled to express political “views”. The experiment soon stopped.
Business structures fail in politics because a political party is not just an organisation. It is a movement, at the top of which is a leader and a court. There, if the eye of the king alights on you, you are powerful. If the king’s eye roams onto another, your strength ebbs away. No other power structure exists in politics.
Business critics note the number of political leaks to the newspapers and contend that this is a sure sign of mismanagement. At Procter & Gamble, for example, internal debate over whether the “end benefit” of Ariel is “whiteness” or “stain removal” has gripped the minds of generations of executives. But you do not read about their deliberations on the front page of the Daily Mail. Nor does any division manager go into print to denounce one side of the argument. Why? Because “political strategy” is hotly debated in every pub and living room in the country. “Whither Ariel?” is not.
Critics say politicians would make fewer mistakes if, like businesses, they conducted professional due diligence before they acted. But that is exactly what politicians do. They test concepts. They test statements. They test speeches. They test policies. They test phrases. Faces. And voices. They do pre-testing. Post-testing. Day polling. Night polling. National polling. Local polling. Nobody knows more about marketing breakthroughs in neuroscience than those running for office. All to no avail. There is no magic lamp that can lead you to the presidential desk in the Oval Office or the prime minister’s chair at Number 10.
But if politics is not like business, what is it like? The record shows that the jury of public opinion is like the jury in a court of law: motive is all. The jury seeks motive and intent. It wants to see a motive and for it to be something “good” in the moral sense.
The proof comes from the masters of politics. When J.F. Kennedy was asked, as a presidential candidate, how he intended to defeat communism, he said it would take “more than air power, or financial power or even manpower”. It would take “brain power” that he defined as: “The mastery of the inside of men’s minds. So that people could see the splendour of our ideals.”
President Ronald Reagan, who actually did defeat communism, told Americans they could only win if they: “Never allowed themselves to be placed in a position of moral inferiority.”
Napoleon described the difference between victory and defeat as: “Three parts moral. One part physical.”
Here, then, is the crucial difference between business and politics. In business, the motive of the provider of the product is beside the point. In politics it is the whole point. It follows that politics is not a market and a political party is not a brand. As a party is not a brand, business disciplines do not apply. So next time you hear it said: “If only politicians could be more businesslike”, you can say that business has as much to do with politics as a cheese knife has to do with the man in the moon.
The writer is executive director of M&C Saatchi and former co-chairman of the Conservative party
A inteligibilidade deste artigo é nula para o Homo Oeconomicus e para o Homo Politicus aqui do terrunho. Em Portugal, a política é a continuação dos negócios por outros meios, e os negócios a continuação da política com os meios sobreditos. "Os donos de Portugal" são os Dupond e Dupont.