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Beauty and the Culture of Enterprise

Businesses grow in part through the beauty in all that they do. When you think about it, the evolution of entire economic systems is driven by this “quest for beauty”. This may all sound a bit absurd, but, in actual fact, the foundations of seeing work and the culture of enterprise through the lens of beauty are sound when we consider that beauty is tied to creativity and, consequently, to innovation, which is one of the most important factors in business and economic development.

Rodolfo Baggio (from the “Carlo F. Dondena” Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy at Bocconi University) and Vincenzo Moretti (from the Giuseppe Di Vittorio Foundation in Rome) recently explored this approach to interpreting reality, which resulted in a unique journey through the concept of beauty as it applies to business and enterprise.

The authors begin with a serious examination of the idea of beauty itself, making use of classifications and tools borrowed from disciplines ranging from cosmology and the sciences (citing Albert Einstein and Nicolaus Copernicus, for example) to, of course, the worlds of art and biology. Beauty is then described in terms of symmetry, simplicity and consistency, as well as of individual, subjective experience as compared to social, shared experience.

Baggio and Moretti connect the concept of beauty, creativity and innovation with that of serendipity (i.e. the ability to observe something unexpected in a manner that provides the opportunity to develop a new theory or expand upon an existing one)—both scientific genius and genius in business, that creative inspiration that leads to new products. As the authors explain, “At the root of innovation there are certain fundamental aspects that are difficult to assess in any specific detail, aspects such as aesthetics, serendipity and imagination, as well as, of course, creativity.”

The ultimately arrive to the idea of “a job well done”, which is at the heart of any success in enterprise and which unites entrepreneurial sense with manufacturing sense and more. It encompasses the era of the Internet and the Web and extends to Italy today, as the authors touch upon certain aspects such as the role of the community, of education, and of the culture of enterprise as it concerns our youth.

Two passages in this analysis by Baggio and Moretti are of particular interest. In the first, the authors recall what Nuto said to Eel in Cesare Pavese’s The Moon and the Bonfires when he said “you couldn’t possibly tell an ignoramus from the work he did, but from how he did it”. In the second, they note that “for Italy, beauty may be an opportunity […] to extend the shadow of the future on the present, to take advantage of opportunities and multiply them”.

This work by Baggio and Moretti is a paper worth much more than the time it takes to read it.

La bellezza come fattore di sviluppo economico e sociale

(Beauty as a factor in economic and social development)

Rodolfo Baggio, Vincenzo Moretti

Working paper, 2015.