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Olivetti, a reading

A thesis discussed at LUISS University describes the Ivrea’s company by combining history and corporate organisation to shape a unique interpretation of the Olivetti adventure.

  

Olivetti, or, a utopia come true. A utopia that, unsurprisingly, at a certain point of its existence had to yield but that, nonetheless, left a deep – and positive – impression on Italian (and global) corporate culture. Exploring the achievements of Camillo and Adriano Olivetti is always profitable, and, therefore, reading Adriano Olivetti e il modello innovativo di impresa fra politica e comunicazione (Adriano Olivetti and the innovative business model between politics and communication), a thesis by Marco Corbucci, discussed in the Political Sciences Department, Democratic Innovation course, at LUISS University, is equally beneficial.

Corbucci examines the Olivetti family, and Adriano in particular, from a singular perspective: what do have doing business, doing politics, and doing communication have in common? “The project we are undertaking,” writes Corbucci, “will include different levels and methods of analysis, all bound together by a single final goal, that of applying, with revisions and amendments aimed at keeping them consistent with our times, a political-corporate concept inspired by Olivetti as a method of democratic innovation.” Marco Corbucci embarks upon an important and complex task that employs a “historiographical approach” to allow for scrutiny of the company’s social and political framework and evolution, but also a “more analytical approach”, which the author adopts to linger on “the analysis of the original Olivetti model.”

To reach his conclusions, Corbucci first examines the company’s context, then the geographical surroundings, and finally the mien of Camillo and Adriano Olivetti; he then goes on to study “Adriano, the community and the innovative social ideas”, exploring various aspects connected to the company and to working at the company, as well as the political and social ideas they entail and the particular kind of welfare practised. Thereafter, Corbucci investigates the specific architecture of the Olivetti group, to finally reach its legacy.

In his closing remarks, Corbucci says, “In many ways, Adriano Olivetti’s behaviour when doing business was unquestionably modern, at times even superior to and more forward-looking than the one adopted by contemporary industrialists. He would probably have been appalled to learn that, nowadays, doing business is the same as, more or less, simply creating profit for the stakeholders, he would have been horrified to witness how companies cheapen themselves for financial gain, how Italian craftsmanship has become enslaved to wealthy masters, remote and unreachable, who take advantage of technical traditions and personnel for mere financial interest; he would shudder before financial holdings that acquire an increasing number of companies, taking them from historical families to deliver them in the hands of a few masters who do not care about them. Concerning the relationship with employees, he would feel a deep disappointment in seeing production activities relocated abroad just so regulations can be circumvented and workers more easily exploited in countries where trade union standards are not as stringent. Indeed, Adriano’s view of a company was much broader: a company is not just about producing wealth, but also about redistributing such wealth across the territory. This could only be achieved by establishing transport routes, building schools and wholesome buildings, supplying services to the local community. Companies also had to propagate aesthetic values such as beauty and culture.”

Adriano Olivetti e il modello innovativo di impresa fra politica e comunicazione (Adriano Olivetti and the innovative business model between politics and communication)

Marco Corbucci

Thesis, LUISS University, Political Sciences Department, Democratic Innovation course, 2020.