Leonello Tronti

L'idea di cultura in Adriano Olivetti. Valore e attualità di un'esperienza intellettuale e imprenditoriale

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The paper offers a novel reading of the famous definition of culture as an "unselfish search for truth and beauty", proposed by Adriano Olivetti in "L'Ordine politico delle Comunità" (1946), and repeated in many others of his writings. The reading is carried out in the light, on the one side, of his work as an entrepreneur and, on the other, of some recent results of economic theory referring both to the relationship between capitalism and innovation (Phelps, 2009) and to the management of knowledge as a commons (Hess, Ostrom, 2009). The paper moves from the identification of the "guilt complex" of the Italian entrepreneurial class against the Ivrea entrepreneur, to deal subsequently with the tenets of his atypical theorization of the concept of culture and its even more atypical actual practice in the company Olivetti. Then it passes in review the themes of organizational opening to the future, innovation as a form of workers' selfrealization, work as a search for truth, the mutual interdependence between cognitive participation and knowledge communities, the relationship between the pursuit of beauty, knowledge and social harmony. Concludes the paper a reference to the possibility of devising an Olivettian exit strategy from the present crisis, based on an industrial policy aiming at building knowledge communities among small and medium-sized enterprises.


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