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The Corporate Meme is a project and blog written by Peter O’Reilly to explore and share his professional interests. Writing helps to clarify thinking though I make no claims that anything here is fully researched and referenced. I will have plundered ideas from people much cleverer than me though I may have forgotten where many of them came from.
Some Working Definitions
The Meme? A Meme is defined as the smallest unit of cultural reproduction. It’s an idea, a symbol, a meaning and they can and do cluster together. A meme doesn’t have to be right or wrong to spread. Memes related to danger , food and sex spread the most easily. They can go ‘viral, reproducing and spreading quickly. Corporations can be viewed as centres for the creation and reproduction (advertising, seminars, business degrees) of memes (think of a successful corporate logo or ‘free trade’).
The Corporation: The Corporation itself is a social arrangement that is an empty vessel. The vessel can be filled with whatever you like – making and selling sugar drinks or alcohol, religion, electricity generation, pharmaceuticals, socks, stopping environmental destruction. The organising principles within the corporation will be informed by the world-views of it’s citizens and the conditions they operate in. Once given a purpose, it can be legally defined and given it’s operating instructions. Of course organisational theory and practice is relevant to the discussion.
The Caldron of World Views: Memes, ideas and concepts tend to attract similar or aligned memes to form clusters. When enough related memes cluster together then hey can become a dominant organising force that shapes almost all aspects of our lives. They can and do shape how we do things e.g. architecture, trade, dispense justice, social structure, religion. Context is critical and conflict between world views is not only possible but perhaps inevitable. People will ‘kill’ for it. Think ISIL but also Nazis, the Crusades and Inquisitions, The Cultural Revolution, Colonialism or almost any ‘ism’. The list is almost endless and could include almost anyone that has killed because of ‘(dis)honour’ or ‘(dis)respect’. It’s helpful to know a bit about world views and the dynamics that shape them. So from time to time, The Corporate Meme will use Spiral Dynamics, a meta theory including world views to explore topics.