Vittorio Menesini
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The limits to innovative action

(July 2000)


From a methodological point of view, answering questions with other questions is correct only when it becomes necessary for clarifying preliminarily both conceptual and linguistic doubts. [editor's note: the question was posed in the on-line discussion inside the Forum : - Who can be entitled with the responsibility of determining the limits of action? Or who will take this responsibility? And, in this case, why?- ]

Perhaps this is one of those times when, referring to enterprises, some of their limits to "action" are stressed by wondering who has the responsibility to put the questions and "why".
First of all, we should understand the meaning of enterprise or, at least, which is the meaning being adopted when speaking of the issue of the "limits to action".

Today the word enterprise seems to be a nomen with unclear and generical contours: all of those who have an activity with any sort of economic connotation are in effect an enterprise. Common sense declares it, fiscal provisions establish it and communitary prescriptions clearly express it when foreseeing homogeneous disciplines for any kind or type of activity with an economic connotation (for example, the discipline of advertisement or of economical contributions for new initiatives).

Therefore "enterprise" is seen as both the economic subject in its traditional sense and the autonomous worker (researcher, artist, professional), the university professor (providing that s/he does something productive) and the o.n.l.u.s., the Churches, the Parties, the Unions, whenever economical aspects exist.

Even a country which is globally organized to produce can be considered an enterprise. We can take as example the Republic of China and other countries, which are structured as a company.

This highlights a problem: it is possible to "limit someone's action" if the someone involved is determined or determinable both typologically and geographically.

If the sentence above is right, it derives that "possible limits" to action of enterprises in the field of innovation cannot be of traditional legislative kind but of a different nature from those we are used to.

In other words, a further step beyond this can be taken, and the environment for possible "limits to action" of enterprises can be considered at this point nothing but the market, the only "legal" place which is coercible. This means the place where prohibitions and engagements are respected and where enterprises, as above intended, will sooner or later move and act.

It is also true that today the market is globalized, that it is supernational and without rules. It looks more like a stormy sea than a quiet fair where goods are given against money and money against other money.

The issue of joining global market with innovation and limits to action together with the search for subjects which could and should do it, brings one possible end, which in turn contains more than one alternative:

1) either everything remains unchanged and unicuique suum, in good and evil, politically and economically subject to the direct or indirect hegemony of the country or the countries, which are politically, economically and militarily more powerful - take your choice of country as an example;

2) or let the “germs” of the innovative thought and action start working, as the author is trying to do in this essay, and suggest some answers to the essential questions raised at the beginning;

3) it is the author's opinion that the "limits to innovative action" can only have an economical and legal nature: in practice, they concern the value of free competitiveness, which is the founder of innovations and sole "ethical" source one can permit oneself to be inspired by, if you so desire to be.

Otherwise you are likely to have a State controlled despotism or generical formulas, such as the "ethic" of business, which sooner or later will assume corporative aspects (professional correctness, honest trade, good faith, gute Sitten) or loose efficacy.

4) These limits can only derive from international agreements between developed and developing countries and be managed by an independent and international sovereignity i.e. a supernational organism. This organism should operate according to antitrust rules with fully autonomous power of intervention on markets, without being conditioned by national interests tied to this or that company or to multinational enterprises.

5) In the long run this solution seems reasonable and perhaps practicable because, on the other hand, in absence of a managing authority of that kind, socially unacceptable innovations could arise and expand in the globalized market, externally to the group of countries, which have free competitiveness and consequently have a natural bent for competitive innovation.

With these assumptions, this kind of innovation should lack the possibility of being introduced into the global market and therefore surviving.

Is it a new possible colonialism of a legal nature? This is a legitimate question. However the answer would seem to be to the contrary.

The imposition upon any kind of enterprise - from the workers to the countries - to observe prohibitions and, on the other hand, the guarantee for mankind of making free choices deriving from innovation, can only come from a supernational organism, able to manage a globalized secular antitrust without any kind of prejudices.

Finally, nulla (innovative) salus sine mercato and there cannot be any market if someone, different from a legally legitimated authority, puts limits founded on the principles of free competitiveness.

(Traduzione di Elena Dell'Aiuto)