May 30, 2009

The No-Business Meeting: DEFINITION FOR A NEW WORLD ORDER (John Kenneth Galbraith)

“Men meet together for many reasons in the course of business. They need to instruct or persuade each other. They must agree on a course of action. They find thinking in public more productive or less painful than thinking in private. But there are at least as many reasons for meetings to transact no business. Meetings are held because men seek companionship or, at a minimum, wish to escape the tedium of solitary duties. They yearn for the prestige which accrues to the man who presides over meetings, and this leads them to convoke assemblages over which they can preside. Finally there is the meeting which is called not because there is business to be done, but it is necessary to create the impression that business is being done. Such meetings are more than a substitute for action. They are widely regarded as action.

 
The fact that no business is transacted at a no-business meeting is normally not a serious cause of embarrassment to those attending. Numerous formulas have been devised to prevent discomfort. Thus scholars, who are great devotees of the no-business meeting, rely heavily on the exchange-of-ideas justification. To them the exchange of ideas an absolute good. Any meeting at which ideas are exchanged is, therefore, useful. This justification is nearly ironclad. It is very hard to have a meeting of which it can be said that no ideas were exchanged.”

 
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash 1929 (50th Anniversary Edition: Houghton Mifflin, New York 1979) Pp 139

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