What business museums teach about dealing with an economic crisis

What business museums teach about dealing with an economic crisis

Archives and collections of companies also tell stories of recovery and rebirth and lessons for the post Covid-19, as emerged in the Week of Business Culture

Pirelli Digital Education Foundation The entrepreneur? "A heretic". The budget? "A literary work". The digital? "It will help Italians' accustomed, since the Middle Ages, to producing, in the shadow of the bell towers, beautiful things that the world likes". This is assured, citing the economist Carlo Maria Cipolla, Antonio Calabrò, president of Museimpresa, an association founded on the initiative of Assolombarda and Confindustria, which participates in the Business Culture Week. The entrepreneurial culture for the rebirth of the country is the theme of the 19th edition, entitled Capital of Italy, with over 70 initiatives including virtual tours, interviews, podcasts, webinars, talks and presentations involving associated companies from all over Italy, until November 20.

“Our museums collect testimonies on the ability to intervene in socio-economic and historical processes, working on change - explains Calabrò -. What characterizes Italian companies is the capacity for resilience, just think of the last 90 years of our history, and the quality of the 'tailor-made' product, the strength of the second manufacturing country in Europe and fifth in the world for trade surplus. ". Business culture through crises, from 1929 to world wars, from the lead years to Clean Hands up to the 2008 recession, in the Week of business culture becomes a key to understanding the processes capable of creating innovation, well-being and social cohesion. Examples to remember for the current situation, which sees a GDP at -9%, in 2020, according to the government forecast.

Pirelli Foundation Historical Archive (photo Pirelli Foundation)

Business culture beyond crises

"Every company has overcome moments of crisis with the courage to change and invest - observes Calabrò -. This is demonstrated by the Pirelli skyscraper, or the Cozzi brothers' museum, which tells how Alfa Romeo from the crisis with adaptations and transformations. The Gragnano pasta museum has re-evaluated a symbolic place of Italian food production that had disappeared from the Italian food geography, now recognized internationally. Giulio Natta, Nobel laureate in chemistry, studied in the Pirelli and Montecatini laboratories, arriving at the formula of polypropylene, plastic. And what do the Italians do? The Kartell company fills the homes of the world with beautiful and durable objects, designed by designers for millions of families ".

From "Olivetti and the values ​​of innovation", to the Fabriano paper mills, from denim in the Bergamo area to the Dersut coffee museum in Conegliano, the online events of the Culture Week tell the story of the productive country. "An example not very present in general awareness is the way in which Italy emerged from the oil crisis of 1973 - recalls Calabrò -. Thousands of skilled workers expelled from production processes, exploding prices and amplifying social tensions. It was the trigger of a process of business creation widespread in the districts of Piedmont, Lombardy, Northeast and the Adriatic backbone, thanks to foremen, foremen, turners and welders who left the factories, builders of their own destiny that would have led to the economic boom of the ' 80 ".

The Campari gallery in Sesto San GIovanni (photo from uff.st. Museimpresa)

Business culture towards the 'new normal'

Space for digital activities, with the sme day for to bring students closer to the values ​​of doing business. The digital revolution, with its 10,631 innovative companies registered in the startup register, presumes a paradigm shift in the organization of work. "Today we certify the death of Fordism, which occurred at least as early as the 1980s at Alfa Romeo, with its technicians in white coats and robots, in the production islands - explains Calabrò -. The contractual structure, however, has remained Fordist: we work on time, while we should think about the product, rewarding skills and the ability to transform. Digital makes it possible to change production structures, improving quality and sustainability. Italians are mechanics, chemists, builders, designers with that 'made-to-measure' attitude that Cipolla described, linking territory, community, history and international outlook and which will be favored by digital transformation ".

Economic, social and cultural interactions are generated between companies and territories and are welded over time. “The pandemic crisis has broken the long production chains that chased low labor costs - observes Calabrò -. They will be able to relocate themselves according to a globalization of proximity, where there is a territorial industrial knowledge: this is our competitive advantage. The 'new normal' puts an end to the imbalances of massive accumulation and megalopolises, today we are re-evaluating villages and finance will make sense in a business dimension, investment funds are focusing on socially and environmentally sustainable businesses. Let's go back to the responsibility of the entrepreneur, to the business as a matter of culture and a cornerstone of the community, according to a common project ".

The Zambon museum in Bresso (photo from the st. Museimpresa office)

“Business is culture”

The Week of Culture was inaugurated with the participation of the president of Confindustria, Carlo Bonomi is articulated with events, such as "Debate for business culture: the first Debate course on the relationship between business, society and culture", free until January, the presentation of the volume Business Archives published by Anai, the virtual journey to museums and archives (Benetton, Zambon ...), ceremonies such as the Itwiin award, Italian association of innovative and inventive women, opportunities to read the opportunities of the present.

"In Italy there is a widespread and very serious prejudice, but doing business is in itself a cultural choice - concludes Calabrò -. The entrepreneur goes beyond widespread common sense, moves forward. Among the numbers of a balance sheet there is the poetry of a gesture of will and representation, to put it in Schopenhauer and the company is a community of people (entrepreneur, technicians, engineers, foremen, workers, suppliers and customers) who compete towards a goal, the business culture is the Hegelian synthesis, even in conflict, of different positions, but which aim at sustainability. Museimpresa is a place that uses the tools of history to think about the future, because the company is a place of memory and transformation, just like culture. In the words of Gustav Mahler: 'Tradition is not a custody of the ashes but a cult of fire' ".

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