My life? Life and the world. Many young people today increasingly fall back on the thoughts of Hannah Arendt to have the world of today, the meaning of her life and her work explained to them. Likewise, many highly respected scientists, whether in the field of economic sociology, psychology, social sciences, philosophy or economics, are directly or indirectly inspired by this great thinker in their latest publications. In the 22 letters to Werner Baumann, CEO BAYER AG, I have attempted to analyse the principles of the current management of this global corporation on the basis of approaches to thinking found in Hannah Arendt’s most important work “Vita activa”. Some thoughts from Robert Musil’s “The Man Without Qualities” or Fundamentals by the philosopher Ernst Cassierer were also included. My main concern in these letters was to shed light on the qualities of the company’s management approach, as well as its personnel and communication policy. Of course, almost all other CEOs can identify with the content of these letters and, as a result, deal with it personally.
1. Announcing is not communication.
Dear Mr Baumann,
you address your message not only to your employees, but to ‘everyone’, because you do it in a publicly accessible medium, on LinkedIn, and not in the company’s internal network (Intranet). Thus you enter the process of communication with ‘everyone’, just as Hannah Arendt expects. Of course, by ‘everyone’ she means all those who are interested for whatever reason and not all of humanity. You announce what you just have to announce and with that the communication process seems to be over for you. There is no dialogue, no exchange, so there is no more communication. Finish, stop, the work is done. Actually, as is usually the case here under the Bayer logo, apart from a few comments, mostly insignificant ones because they focus on false congratulations. So now we could forget what Hannah Arendt continues to say, because there is nothing more to discuss.
2. Outsourcing of communication.
Dear Mr Baumann,
there is a lot of evidence that Bayer’s communication tasks have been outsourced to one or more agencies, which in turn is direct evidence that communication that really deserves the name is of no interest to Bayer AG. But this is very surprising, especially in view of the fact that you and your company depend on a great many groups of people if you want to develop, produce and sell. These people, with whom you obviously do not want to communicate (conduct a dialogue), are, for example, employees, potential candidates, customers, society, stockholders, and many others. But without honest and therefore effective communication, Mr. Baumann, there is no credibility, no trust, no identification, no motivation, no creativity, no innovation, if we mean just the employees.
3. Innovation under tyrants?
Dear Mr Baumann,
as already mentioned, without honest and therefore effective communication, there is no credibility, no trust, no identification, no motivation, no creativity, no innovation, if we mean just the employees. This also raises the question of who exactly (apart from you) at Bayer believes ‘We firmly believe’ and that: ‘our innovation capabilities’? For the above-mentioned reasons, these ‘innovation capabilities’ are not possible from a scientific point of view. Hannah Arendt thinks that it might be possible in individual cases, i.e. individually, not even in a team, but only within the framework of an organization that is managed according to the rules of tyranny. Tyrants, according to Arendt, tell people what they will certainly like in trivial matters, but in important matters they simply command what is to be done and that’s it, no discussion.