centers in this country. The scholars have demonstrated that it is possible to measure the input of big business and small business to the quality of our lives as well as the quantity of our goods.

Serious inquiry to bring these and other such studies up-to-date is sorely needed. We need modern and current research and high-caliber analyses as a basis for more productive policies on these matters in Congress and elsewhere.

But research and the decision-making will not be undertaken unless there is an increasing concern in this country about the American values which we profess so loudly and so often.

There appear to be serious doubts about our national commitment to these values and our willingness to do something meaningful about them. Small business does occasionally make some headway on the public and legislative agendas, but it does so only in bits and pieces.

The Committee has made its proposals for a national strategy to encourage small business enterprise which will deal with these problems and their solutions. The opportunities that stem from such a commitment continue to be magnificent.


Each generation must rediscover and translate traditional institutions into terms that are meaningful. Unless we do a better job with the values of the smaller participants in our free private enterprise system, small business will not be continued, preserved, or encouraged in the future. Along with many of the authors who speak in these pages, the Small Business Committee is deeply concerned that we may lose these enterprises and their manifold economic and social benefits to the quality of American life in the years to come.

We hope this volume will stimulate the thought, research, resolve, and action which are needed to change the environment for small business, so that their contributions can be as significant to our nation's future as they have been to its past.





[From The Washington Post, Sept. 6, 1976, Page A23:2]

(By Colman McCarthy)

Three of the sparkling and glamorous people in the lives of my children-boys, ages eight, seven and five-are Julius Andracsek, Angelo Provenzano and Pearl Gregory. These are not phony TV characters, nor divine ones in the personality magazines. They are neighborhood merchants. And they are worth thinking about on Labor Day.

Each is a shopkeeper along a mile stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in the District between Lowell and Fessenden Streets. Julius Andracsek, born in Hungary, has owned and run the University Pastry Shop since 1930, going back to the rural days when his neighbors included Mrs. McLean when McLean Gardens truly were gardens. Mr. Andracsek is helped in the shop by his sons, Tom and George, and together they are known-with the larynxes of my boys proclaiming it the loudest-as makers of supreme ice cream: Heavy, chewy and nothing like the puffy shaving cream laced with air and chemical that the big companies market.

Further along Wisconsin is Angelo Provenzano's golf repair shop. Its owner is also unique in the city: The first businessman to understand that people become emotionally attached to their golf clubs and prefer to have them regripped, redesigned and redone rather than junked. Pearl Gregory shares this view, applying it to the bicycles in her Cycle and Sports shop. Her father began the business in downtown Washington in 1912, and Mrs. Gregory and her husband Charley took it over in 1959.

When I go with my boys into these shops, I know they will get the kind of service and products that the oversized and depersonalized chainstores can't care about. But more crucial, the children are exposed to grounded and proud craftsmen who are happy in their work. Children need to learn early that a man's labor need not be his drudgery, that the commerce of the neighborhood is not a sprawl of anonymous supermarkets or discount marts but is people like the Andracseks,

Provenzanos and Gregorys who have character and heart because they delight in their work, are cheerful before the shoppers and reverent toward the craft.

How many others in America's workforce have these feelings? The number, sadly, has to be low. The politicians come at the public with plans to reduce unemployment but the larger issue involves malemployment-worker dissatisfaction. "The iob." Lane Kirkland of the AFL-CIO has said. "is still the secret to a guy's general happiness and attitu le. If you like your work, you're happy. If you don't, you're miserable" Such common realities as absenteeism, high turnover rates, sabotage, inhouse theft, strikes, sloppy products and the inevitable who-cares attitude are among the latches that spring the trapdoor to worker dissatisfaction. These costs are incalculable in what management loses in money and workers in emotional contentment. The subject is worth thinking about because, as with many of the abuses and absurdities in American life, the situation need not be as bleak as it is.

The philosophers have all had a try at defining work, from Mark Twain who said that work was what you do when you would rather be doing something else, to Bertrand Russell who believed that "work is of two kinds: First, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill-paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid." The question raised by these definitions is whether a worker from the board chairman to the night security guard-is mindlessly dreaming when he dares think about even the chance of gaining satisfaction from his work. Shouldn't the paycheck be enough? No society until our own ever put it into the head of the worker that he had a right to pursue jobsite contentment. In other societies, it has been the blessing of the angels if the laborer could get merely a fair wage and a little time off to rest his back until the next shift.

Study after study has documented that however much progress machines and technology have supposedly brought to the workplace, the emotional and social prices have been high. The 1971 HEW report on "Work in America," after discussing the "discontent among workers at all levels," concluded that "a general increase in their educational and economic status has placed many American workers in a position where having an interesting job is now as important as having a job that pays well."

The truth of that is clear: The person satisfied in his work is the one who would keep at it even if his salary were cut in half or in some cases taken away altogether. The emotional payment more than makes up for what is lost in dollars. The stereotyped "starving artist" starves only with a lean stomach; his emotions and soul are bloated with the richness of creating, ones that few high-priced athletes or corporate captains ever know. Although Congress, rising to giddiness, may one day get around to a Federal Interesting Job Act-with $1,000 fines for employers convicted of allowing on-the-job dullness-it is unlikely that the system will ever offer to more than a few the kind of work that involves the spirit of a person, not merely the muscles or brains. This may be why it is futile for sociologists and journalists to wander the land trying to find "the mood of the American worker." His mood?

Who knows so benumbed is it by the taking of countless mood-altering drugs like Valium and Librium to get through the workday.

To begin looking for alternatives to the problem of dead jobs or dead-end careers, visiting the shops of the small businessmen like the Andracseks, Provenzanos and Gregorys might be useful. Three characteristics link these craftsmen: They earn a living by being personally identified with, and accountable for, what they sell; they have a say in their own working conditions; and they have affectionate feelings for the neighborhood that preclude all desires to move up and out. The issue is not that the virtues of small business are as automatic as the imagined evils of big business-the local watchmaker can run a sweatshop as ruthlessly as the board chairman can bully his underling vice-presidents-but is one that raises another question: Whether enough citizens, whatever their work, are thinking about ways to elevate labor beyond just a way to make money or progress. The answer is not as grim as might be imagined. In "The Future of the Workplace," Paul Dickson writes: "The external signals that indicate the start of a broad attempt to effect fundamental change in the way people work have gone up. It is far too early to predict how far it will go or how fast change will occur, but it is obvious that significant momentum for change is building. Why is the business community adding to this momentum? Because carefully considered and executed workplace reform can allow an employer to couple humanitarian and hard-nosed business goals in a single package. * * * For leaders of industry and commerce, it provides a rare opportunity to have one's cake and eat it too-that is, to take statesmanlike action against employee alienation and malaise while improving the health, condition, productivity and profitability of the organization. As an executive involved in a job redesign effort within a company in the Bell Telephone System put it, 'The unbelievable thing is that a successful program can make a manager a hero to both the largest stockholders and the people on the lowest rung of the ladder in the company.""

Many of the largest companies recognize the importance of worker satisfaction and that a redesigning of work is not only desirable but possible. A large number of experiments now going on do not involve overpowering changes in the way of doing business but minor shifts in the daily routine. One example was recounted in recent hearings before the Senate Select Committee on Small Business by Dr. Michael Maccoby, a Washington psychiatrist who helped organize a work humanization project in a Bolivar, Tenn., plant where outside car mirrors were made. "The last time I visited Bolivar a few weeks ago," Maccoby said. "a foreman described how he was teaching workers to take over his functions. His eves shone with enthusiasm as he described how the workers were learning. A top manager asked why he was doing it, and he answered, 'because it was so boring just telling people what to do.' Someone asked if he wasn't afraid of losing his authority, but he pointed out that never before had he enjoyed so much authority based on respect and not fear. You might say that if this much can be achieved in an old factory, in an uncertain market, during a recession, starting from a relationship of zero trust between company and union, then it can be done anywhere."

« ForrigeFortsett »