The Varieties of Corporate Ventures
I constantly come back to the question, “What is God doing in our lives when we’re at work?” I come back to it repeatedly because the question can be viewed from a number of different angles and answered in many ways. The particular answer I’m working on right now has to do with the nature of corporate ventures.
I’m not just talking about corporations here, or even necessarily business entities. I use the word “corporate” to denote the involvement of lots of people. There are all kinds of corporate ventures in this world, and only some of them are businesses.
A medical center is a corporate venture. . .
So is a school district. . .
Or a small-town newspaper. . .
Or a local church. . .
But if we want to see how immensely complicated this subject is, we can start by thinking about our local government. I don’t claim to know very much about what they do down at city hall, but I am aware of this much: what we call “our local government” extends way beyond what they do at city hall itself. They oversee the library system, the water/sewage system, the local parks and recreation, road crews (including snow removal), street lights and traffic signals, and the police and fire departments. Each of the things I just mentioned is itself an entire system or department with its own subgroups. In other words, each one is itself a corporate venture. Which means that a city government is a corporate venture that subsumes other corporate ventures.
Take just one of them: the water/sewage system. Before water can be pumped into our homes it has to be collected, and this is no simple matter. Some of it may come from wells, some from smiley-face water towers, some from lakes and rivers, and a lot (believe it or not) from rain. But it doesn’t just happen. There are engineers who design and monitor sophisticated basins for collecting and purifying this water, and then transporting it to all the homes within the city. And then, like a massive circulatory system, this is all coordinated with the sewage that comes out of our homes. A wide variety of workers are needed, and they have many different jobs. This is just one corporate venture within the larger corporate venture we call “city government.”
When we move up the chain to county government, the whole thing becomes even more complex. I think you can see why. Move farther up to state, regional, and national government, and there are many more surprises. There are departments doing things most of us never even dreamed of. Corporate ventures within corporate ventures like an endless array of Chinese boxes!
I’m trying to make two points. First, there is a mind-boggling variety of corporate ventures, even if we put business ventures off to one side. And second, we live our lives within a complex web of such social groups—contributing in some way to many of them at once, and depending on many, many others.
In case you’re wondering: Yes, I’m going somewhere with all of this, but we aren’t ready to get there yet. We’ve got much more exploring to do first. There is a lot more to say about this complex web of corporate entities that I just described…..