Brian Micklethwait on Toby Baxendale

Via Brian Micklethwait, an interview with Cobden Centre Chairman, Toby Baxendale

The thing I find particularly intriguing about Toby is how his thinking in the academic sense and his business and social thinking are so deeply intertwined, which is sadly not true of far too many businessmen.  His early acquaintance with the economic facts of life, due to his parents divorcing early and him being raised by his single mother, meant that he came to the study of economics with a well developed sense of how the economy worked and how wealth gets created, and regular economics didn’t add up.  Too abstract.  Simply: not right.  He paid for much of this education by himself working, first by part-owning and running a night club, then by buying food for a restaurant that he part-owned, the latter activity being the basis of his later business success.  An early burst of anti-left politics in his teens got him in touch with the legal and social thinking of Friedrich Hayek, and he made a note to chase up Austrian School economics later, once he had got his business life motoring.  Which it did, not least because of his willingness to use the dispersed-knowledge dispersed-profit model of business organisation and business cooperation, rather than just putting all his underlings on a fixed salary and telling them what to do.  He didn’t want the do-as-you’re-told life for himself, and figured they wouldn’t either.  Plus, profit-sharing is more profitable.

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