Smiles, Politicians, Prices, Value and Money

I have written in the past several notes about Chester Barnard's masterpiece, The Functions of the Executive. It is not hard to imagine how a book like this is still being published and reprinted some 70 years after its original printing but it is hard to imagine how so very little of it is available in review or in reference elsewhere.

Here's a small quote from pages 253 and 254. I find the examples Barnard gives here both playful and ingenious:

Any merchant or politician knows that smiles have values, and that sometimes the presence or absence of smiles may be the strategic factor between success or failure; but no one can measure their effect. Anyone knows that good will, whether of customers or employees, or of investors, is value, but no one knows how to price it [There's often an accounting "measure" for this.]; and it is commonplace that it cannot be secured by money alone, and frequently not at all by money.

Here, Barnard is illustrating his point that one reason for cooperation is exchange of utilities and that such utilities are often impossible to measure in terms of costs but must be viewed in terms of the value at both end of the cooperation. What is of value often remains too illusive to price except in exchange and commerce.

The point about the importance of smiles has always left some people wondering, cynically, about the importance to politics and commerce of acting, or less cynically and perhaps more realistically, of not worrying and of being social.

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