BUSINESS CULTURE The industry must be able to communicate itself. The review of Calabrò’s book.

The Italian industrial world is wondering how to get back at the helm of a (sustainable) development process for the country. After all, it is more than a choice, it is a necessity if you want to compete.

We offer courtesy of the review, which Osservatore Romano published in today’s edition of the book by Antonio Calabrò, The future of memory. Ask the company to stimulate innovation, Egea Editions, Milano, 2022.

Marco Bellizi

As you know, post-war Italy grew rapidly not only thanks to the help that came from abroad, but also thanks to the industrialists who undertook to rebuild an entire country through their hard work and ingenuity. Nowadays, no economist, sociologist or political scientist does not turn with a melancholy look at the season when people like Olivetti thought of the factory as the center of a society around which houses, schools, a well-rounded culture of beauty grew .. A culture of doing and doing good. An entrepreneurship that would then disappear in the smoke of class conflict and leave room, after winning in the even bloody confrontation of the 70s, for a ruling class of a different type, with a different culture and different goals.

After the war, it was a group of “industry captains” characterized by a consistent ethical component, forged by the world conflict but open to a future that was thought to be brilliant and progressive. Today, there is an economic-cultural movement that is turning against that experience, at a time when we realize that the model of development used from the 1980s until the last century is being exhausted. Antonio Calabrò, director of the Pirelli Foundation, president of the Museimpresa, in his book The future of memory. Asking the company to stimulate innovation (Egea Editions, Milan, 2022, page 129, 16 euros) adds to this “amarcord” appeal to put the company back at the center of the country’s cultural life. Not a simple wish, but an invitation to return to communicate what Italian industry is already doing by adapting to new needs, to a world that rightly asks to place the person’s well-being as a productive goal rather than just a lever for consumption. .

The Italian industry, Calabrò claims, has what it takes for a post-war-like season. However, it must know how it communicates itself, as it once did through its historical publications, “Pirelli Magazine”, Enis “Wild Cat”, Olivetti’s “Community”, Finmeccanica-Iris “Civilization of Machines”, magazines (house organ we could say today), which hosted cultural debates, articles by the famous intellectuals of the time, projects and aspirations that conveyed the idea of ​​a new world that has not yet been created.

The operation we are talking about is neither easy nor given: “There is the fact – writes Calabrò – that the very figure of the entrepreneur has his own accusation of ambiguity” and social resentment is always an element to be taken into account. But Calabrò, who is also vice-president of the Industrial Union of Turin, recalls, “today it is companies that play the main role as social elevator, in an Italy that is too long quiet, stagnant, aged, slow to grow, poorly prone to mobility “; Italian industry is far ahead of what one might think, “linked to territories, mindful of the dimensions of quality and beauty, it grows and incorporates the values ​​of environmental and social sustainability among the underlying causes of competitiveness in global markets”. Of course, more needs to be done. For Calabrò, it is necessary to take the path of a revival of the Keynesian approach; The state must return to enable the companies to operate in the sense set out above and create the conditions for a “re-creation in Italy”. “For the production chain – writes the author – a time must open up in which the territory is a source of value in its dimension of common good to be regenerated”.

There are new “captains of the industry” animated by the ambition to build a country and not just by the hunger to accumulate profits. And it is positive that the Italian industrial world is wondering how to get back at the forefront of a (sustainable) development process for the country. After all, it is more than a choice, it is a necessity if you want to compete. But with a caveat: In an economy that strives to be circular (the “Symbolic Report” on the green economy, quoted in the book, highlights how Italian companies are leading in Europe in this regard), there must also be room for the dimension of conflict which, by its very nature, interrupts all circularity. “Business culture is foreign to empty rhetoric,” Calabrò states in the book, and therefore it is necessary not to fall into the error of a dreamy self-referentiality. Reality is complex, and if it is true that any transformation creates tensions, it is fundamental how one confronts the latter. But that’s another story.

Source: L’Osservatore Romano – July 7, 2022

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