An Aristotelian Perspective
- New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Chapter 6: A Few Good Men?
6. A few good men? Let us now consider aristocratic and oligarchical corporate governance regimes. We may recall from Aristotle’s Politics that aristocracies and oligarchies are similar because, in both of them, only a few people rule; on the other hand, they diﬀer from each other in that aristocracies are a form of ‘true’ or ‘constitutional’ rules wherein the common good presides, while oligarchies are ‘defective’ or ‘perverted’ rules in which private interests predominate (Pltcs, 1279a–b). From the viewpoint of the rulers themselves we are also told that the few who rule in aristocracies are the ‘best’ in terms of merit and qualiﬁcations, whereas, in oligarchies, they are simply the wealthier ones. The two may be said to have the same idea of justice, according to which those who are unequal in one respect – say merit or wealth – should be treated unequally in all others, including the distribution of tasks, duties, honours and privileges within the state (Pltcs, 1280a). Perhaps a few good (or wealthy) men would be enough to run not only a state but also a company properly. In the following we shall see how these two models apply to diﬀerent corporations. Likewise we shall look into their particular strengths and weaknesses. It would be quite surprising to discover just how many of these advantages and disadvantages, dangers and challenges have already been somewhat foreshadowed in Aristotle’s treatise on government, despite the diﬀerence in context. I WHEN EVEN TWO IS TOO MUCH: THE...
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