Agoricus: A Platonic Exploration of the “Good” Businessperson

Agoricus: A Platonic Exploration of the “Good” Businessperson

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes

This is written as a dialogue with the central question, “What constitutes the essence of a ‘good’ businessperson?” Written in the form of a Platonic dialogue, this is an imaginary exchange between Socrates and Agoricus, the fictitious son of a well-respected businessperson of Athens at a time of unethical business practice. Various qualities are entertained in terms of defining a successful and good businessperson, including producing quality products at low prices, effective sales techniques, creativity and innovation, respectful treatment of the customer, business “knowhow” (e.g. accounting), contributing to the community welfare, as well as being honest and trustworthy. Eventually the discussion winds its way to a kind of care and concern for customer welfare and satisfaction, leaving the initial question partially answered, while raising another question related to the proper way of teaching business. Connections to classical and contemporary business readings are made throughout the dialogue by the use of footnotes. The dialogue could be used with various graduate and undergraduate audiences, and it can be used in various ways, including class discussion regarding whether business should be conceived as a profession and whether ethical conduct lies at the heart of business. This only adopts the format of a Platonic dialogue for purposes of exploring the question. However, the dialogue does not claim to represent the ideas or position that Socrates or Plato might take on the question at hand.

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