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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The counterbalanced adversary model of government-business interaction : an evaluation Whetter, David Clinton

Abstract

The free enterprise ideals which have been the major philosophical base for the private sector of western economies since the days of Adam Smith, delineate very clearly the roles of government and business in society. The earliest models prescribed a supplementary role to government since the market place was supposed to resolve and provide for public needs. As the 'ideal' market became less and less representative of actual conditions the role of government became more central. In the public mind governments became charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the public interest was protected and fulfilled while business remained responsible only for achieving its private objectives. However, governments are still supposed to discharge their duty with as little interference in the activities of the private sector as possible. The underlying assumption of this philosophy is that governments will be effective in ensuring that the public interest is protected, that is, that there is a balance of power between government and business. Most of the major problems facing various societies today, including famine, poverty, pollution and inequitable distribution of wealth and resources, would seem to indicate that the public interest is not being adequately protected. This raises the possibility that the counterbalanced adversary model of government-business interaction is based on assumptions which no longer hold in our society. If this is so then decision makers in both government and business should consider the implications of the inappropriateness of their philosophical base and make adjustments accordingly. The major goal of this thesis is to examine the assumptions which underlie the counterbalanced, adversary model of government business interactions on the basis of actual interactions and performance so that an assessment of the validity of the model can be made. It is not my intention to conclusively disprove the validity of the model, since the amount of research required to accomplish such a task is beyond the scope of a thesis at this level. In any case, the value of attempting such an elusive goal is questionable, given that the main purpose of examining the validity of the model is to provide an impetus to decision makers to re-examine their philosophical base. No proof in such a topic is likely to be universally accepted as conclusive, therefore, the establishment of a reasonable doubt serves much the same purpose. This rationale provided the basis for my decision to examine the major assumptions of the model in a comprehensive manner, rather than analysing one particular assumption in considerable depth. I felt it was more valuable to set out the total picture in a holistic context than to develop a more conclusive examination of one part of the process.

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