Most businesses are driven to maximize profit, but what does this drive really mean in action? In Profit Motive: What Drives the Things We Do economist Charles Sauer makes the case that identifying your own and others’ “Profit Motives” provides the foundation for running a successful business, being an effective leader, a good consumer, and getting what you really want out of life. In this highly praised new treatise on economic behavior, Sauer examines how businesses make decisions in pricing and employment and how the search for long-term profit can mean adopting practices that may seem contrary to fundamental capitalist principles. But the Profit Motive analysis goes well beyond the realm of finance and corporate decision-making to explain how gaining a profit, or a benefit, is the motivating force behind an endless array of choices made by everyone from large organizations to individuals and their families?and everything in between.
Economist Sauer devotes this stimulating treatise to theorizing that being able to identify other people's "profit motives," including both wealth acquisition and less tangible benefits, can lead to a more successful career and more fulfilling life. In his insightful analysis of the motivating drives behind institutions and individuals alike, the former Congressional staffer tackles a wide array of examples, from the influence of lobbyists on Capitol Hill to the entrepreneurial impulse represented by children's lemonade stands. He cites historical examples such as John D. Rockefeller and contemporary figures such as Elon Musk to convey the personal motives behind large corporations, and critiques the cronyism that exists between politicians and their donors. The media and health care industries do not escape unscathed; he observes that the sensationalizing of news stories to keep viewers interested and drive up advertising is vital to understanding how the media works, and that the knowledge that hospitals are businesses first and foremost will help patients understand why prices keep rising. He concludes with a focus on families, strongly arguing against dragging business into personal affairs. Ultimately, the author succeeds in making his case for the importance of profit motives, and anyone interested in enhancing a business or building up a community will profit from reading this book.