Reflections #11: 195 Companies (Countries) that Rule them all – Rethinking the Business of Nations

There are currently 195 countries recognized by the United Nations, each with its own unique culture, history, and governance system. From the small island nations of the Pacific to metropolis in Southern Africa, the countries of the world are diverse in their landscapes, languages, and customs. However, one commonality that many of these countries share is their position as a source of power and authority within their respective territories.

I often hear the phrase “the world is run like a business,” suggesting that everything is about profits and market competition. But when it comes to countries, is it appropriate to think of them as companies?

It is plausible to argue that countries that behave like companies are monopolies, wielding excessive power over their citizens and other nations. To start, let’s define what a monopoly is. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a monopoly is “complete control of the entire supply of goods or of a service in a certain area or market.” In other words, a monopoly is a situation where one entity has exclusive control over a product or service with no viable competition.

If we apply this definition to countries, it’s easy to see why the argument is that they are monopolies. After all, countries have exclusive control over their territories and the people who reside within them. They have the power to make and enforce laws, regulate industries, and engage in international relations on behalf of their citizens.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the boundaries between countries and companies can sometimes blur. Countries are responsible for providing for the welfare and security of their citizens, while companies seek to provide value to their customers and generate profits for their owners or shareholders.

For companies that focus on delivering value, there can be significant overlap with the goals of countries in some ways. By creating high-quality products or services that meet the needs of their customers, companies can contribute to the economic growth and stability of a country and provide jobs and opportunities for its citizens. Additionally, companies that prioritize ethical and socially responsible practices can help to promote a healthier and more equitable society, which is in line with the goals of many countries.

One of the main similarities between countries and companies is that they both have a defined territory or market in which they operate. Countries have a defined geographic area, while companies have a defined target audience or customer base. Both entities must navigate a complex web of laws, regulations, and stakeholders within their respective territories or markets.

Another similarity is that both countries and companies have a hierarchy of leadership and decision-making. In countries, this often takes the form of a government or ruling body, while in companies, it’s typically a board of directors or executive leadership team. Both types of entities must balance the needs of their stakeholders and make decisions that align with their objectives.

The question remains, “do countries run like a business?” It’s a question that will require ongoing questioning.