Many Americans today consider the corporation to be public enemy number one. Downsizing, corporate greed, an exclusive focus on the needs of shareholders at the expense of workers - the list of complaints is long and growing. In this powerful new book, prominent scholar Michael Novak argues that these critics ask the corporation to be something it is not, and they overlook the functions that it performs best - the cultivation of civil society, the fortification of democracy, and the elevation of the poor. Borrowing a phrase from Abraham Lincoln, Novak shows how the corporation weds "the fire of invention" to the "fuel of interest" to generate a creative, dynamic, and civic minded citizenry. The Fire of Invention examines and illuminates many crucial debates: What is the purpose of the corporation? How should a corporation be governed? How much corporate independence from government regulation is desirable? How can businesses prepare for the complex economic and ethical challenges of the next century? This important book will fundamentally change the way Americans think about big business.
“In The Fire of Invention, Michael Novak reminds us that the business corporation is not a necessary evil to be tolerated, but an integral part of our democratic order critical to both civic and public life. He forthrightly rejects trendy attempts to recycle socialist ideas from the ‘stakeholder society’ to strictures against downsizing, while pointing us to the true sources of creativity in the postindustrial world.”
Francis Fukuyama, George Mason University
“This book is a call to business executives to stand up in defense of the independence of the most powerful economic machine known to man—the publicly owned corporation.”
Roberto C. Goizueta, CEO, The Coca Cola Company
“With thoughtfulness and verve, Michael Novak demonstrates once again why he is the most respected authority on American business and culture. In The Fire of Invention, he identifies… the precious link between individual liberty, the entrepreneurial spirit, and capitalism. Novak’s trenchant observations… draw upon his vast knowledge of American history and corporate America, and will be an education for business and political leaders alike.”
William E. Simon, President, John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.
“Michael Novak aptly describes what both large Western corporations and tiny third world microenterprises know instinctively: the right of voluntary association liberates the human spirit to create wealth, escape poverty, and meet human needs.”
Jim Damron, Opportunity International
“This book is a message not only to the concerned citizen, but is particularly important to business leaders ‘to be philosophically vigilant—that is principled and unrelenting against the trespasses of government power on private property.’ This book also makes clear the benefits of increased productivity and scientific and technological progress obtained under a system of ‘protected patents and copyrights.’ This system has resulted in ‘an explosion in invention and discovery far beyond anything achieved under non-patent regimes.’ This book, therefore, is a must for every student of freedom, every public policy maker concerned with economic progress, and every business person concerned with the interests of consumers and shareholders alike.”
John M. Templeton, M.D., President, John Templeton Foundation
Michael Novak (born 9 September, 1933) is an American Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist, and diplomat. The author of more than twenty-five books on the philosophy and theology of culture, Novak is most widely known for his book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982). In 1994 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which included a million-dollar purse awarded at Buckingham Palace. He writes books and articles focused on capitalism, religion, and the politics of democratization.
Novak served as U.S. chief ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1981 and led the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1986.
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