Re: Vision Stmt Examples LO2017
Mon, 10 Jul 95 14:41:4 GMT

Replying to LO1955 --

I've had to bite my tongue a few times while attempting to add my
two cents worth on this topic. I think that if I had to come up with a
vision statement that encompassed the beliefs of the Emilia-Romagna region
for the past twenty years, I would call it ideology and I would call it
Communism. Of course, I'm talking about local traditions and situations
that found resonance in communist ideals. I wouldn't want to start going
on about political theory in and of itself. Nonetheless, Emiglia-Romagna
and Tuscany, where most of these "networked" business communities are
located, are still the predominant strongholds of the offspring of Italian
Communist Party. (Although the names have been changed to protect the
innocent! :-) )

Apart from the periods of Classical Rome and the Rinascimento,
Italy has been invaded and dominated by just about everybody. Local
solidarity was a means of getting around foreign control. (And so the
Mafia was born elsewhere in Italy) However, I would say that trust is
established through ongoing relationship precisely because there is a
general atmosphere of *distrust*. If you want to compliment your
"average" Italian, call him or her "furbo", roughly translated to "sly".
Italians love power, intrigue and making advantageous deals. (My
apologies for the generalizations) It would seem to me that there's strong
pragmatic individualism, with regional loyalties, grounded in pervasive,
though vague, humanistic ideals - whether religious or laic.

Some samples:

During the voting on the privatization of health care a common
sentiment was: "Why should only those who can pay for it have health

Italian students have a lot to bitch about the university system
here, but Americans are usually left with their mouths wide open when they
hear it costs under $800 a year. (Europeans are usually not.)

In Naples a producer of shoe parts with a small, but expanding
operation, explains how profits during high production season are saved
and used to pay workers during the slow season. He explains that it just
wouldn't be right to lay off his extra help since there is no other work
to be found. The journalist comments that that's not a way to become
rich. The craftsman gives him a wry smile and says "no, it's not how one
gets rich, but its how we do things."

I'm told that it's only in the last generation or so that calling
someone a businessman (the term businessperson is not used here) isn't
akin to disparagement. Profit for the sake of profit was not socially
acceptable, and people would feel compelled to excuse themselves for their
wealth. Still, the idea of Business does not sit well with many people,
it seems to have a separate meaning from that of local commerce.

In a different vein, a startling image of the power of individual
and collective memory is the situation that occurred here (I'm in
Florence) at the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War. The grocery stores
were filled with the elderly stocking up on durable goods. Water, canned
tomatoes, salt, coffee, sugar, whatever. Shelves were emptied for several
days. The famine here was so bad during the second world war that the
reaction was spontaneous by those who suffered through that period. I
think the younger generation of Italians was startled by this occurrence
also. It left a strong impression with me....

What I find interesting about the success of these areas of
networks of small and middle-sized businesses is that it is largely
ignored by the Italian press. And, inferring from comments made by a
president of one of the chambers of commerce, it sounds as if many of
these companies don't quite realize what a good thing they've got going
for themselves. Like many countries, companies and individuals, there is
often a "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" mentality
where people are so often looking at what others have or are doing, that
they don't bother to take the time to pat themselves on the back for what
they have done themselves, and use it to their advantage.

If anyone has made it this far in my ramblings, I would be very
interested in hearing from anyone who is interested in the potential of
groupware in connecting small companies together. Resources? Internet
discussion groups?

I hope the above comments will not be taken "politically", I offer
them as contrast. A revelling in the complexity of all analysis.

Lilly Evans said in LO1955...

..."The examples from whole communities can be quite enlightening here. I
am particularly thinking of the small business tie-ups in the
region of Italy. Its economic miracle has been documented in a very large
scale social experiment encompassing the whole of Italy over the period of
two decades from 1970's onwards. You can find more about it in the book
by Robert Putnam (prof. at Harvard University) "Making Democracy Work:
Civic Traditions in Modern Italy". One of the main findings from this
work has been the recognition of the existence of what Putnam termed
"social capital".

As I understand it, the sources for social capital are:
- trust
- reciprocity, and
- dense social networks.

It turns out that this particular region of Italy has a very strong and
long established miriad of mutual aid associations. The associations that
act in an inclusive manner. This has not only built trust over hundreds
of years, but also enabled the civic regions of Italy to invent credit."
--- end of quote ---

	Jackie Mullen