Richard Branson is Britain's best-known entrepreneur. This self-made man started his first company at the age of 17 and succeeded in building an empire. Worth £3 billion and believed to be the ninth-richest man in the UK, the 56-year-old founder of the Virgin empire inspired a generation of entrepreneurs by becoming not only influent in business activities but also in the British political life. Branson is not engaged in any political party and defines himself as a libertarian. He swings between the Conservative and the Labour Parties as long as the economic interests are saved. In December 1999, he was awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Millennium New Year's Honours List for “services to entrepreneurship”.
The aim of this essay is to analyse how important the participation of Richard Branson in the British political life is. Indeed, because of his huge business activities that deal with numerous and various key sectors of the country such as the transport, the energies or the media, Branson has a privileged position vis-à-vis government officials. In a way, he can be considered as a political actor. In order to have a better understanding of this topic, we will first briefly present Richard Branson, known as the British tycoon. Then we will analyse one of his main successes and one of his main defeats within Britain, that are respectively, the launch of his company Virgin Atlantic Airways and his experience with the City of London in 1986. The choice of these cases is relevant as they both involved discussions and negotiations with British political institutions. Finally we will analyse his participation in political actions and political debates.
[...] Indeed in a capitalistic democracy such as the UK, business can either be a victim of the democracy or a privileged interest. That's why, Branson, who is moreover standing as an anticonformist and as a rebel entrepreneur is both recognized and criticised. Bibliography Books BOWER, Tom, Branson, London: Fourth Estate BRANSON, Richard, Losing my virginity, London: Virgin DEARLOVE, Des, Business the Richard Branson way: 10 secrets of the World's Greatest Brand-builder, New York: Amacom KETS de VRIES, Manfred F.R and Elizabeth FLORENT-TREACY, The New Global Leaders: Richard Branson, Percy Barnevik and David Simon, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass JACKSON, Tim, Virgin King : Inside Richard Branson's business empire, London: Harper Collins Periodicals BRANSON, Richard, “Statement,” The Financial Times Nov BURCH, John “Profiling the Entrepreneur,” Business Horizons, Sept-Oct 1986: pp 13-17. [...]
[...] In March 1991, Rifkind ratified the CAA recommendation and for Branson, ‘this news was a lifeline and the reward for endless lobbying.' In November 1991, Richard Branson, on behalf on Virgin Atlantic, announced that he was preparing a list of complaints alleging anti- competitive behaviour by British Airways, which he wanted to send to the European Commission, the Civil Aviation Authority and to the Department of Transport. For Branson, there was a surprising lack of legislation governing competition in the British airline industry. [...]
[...] However, it's interesting to notice, that Branson is privileging private solution to this plague instead of cooperating with the public sector and with the government.” Conclusion Although this analysis is far from being comprehensive concerning all the issues that confronted Sir Richard Branson and the British government, we can easily assume, as proven with the different cases mentioned above, that the hippie tycoon is a real interlocutor in the British political life. Indeed, because of his business empire, political officials can't ignore him, and collaborating with one another can be seen as positive for both sides. [...]
[...] But since Branson is an important person in the British political life, launching operations with him is always seen as a way to strengthen a project. And, even the British government needed him for political or social problems. We will analyse two actions in which Branson was involved with the British government. Both cases are relevant since their ends proved that cooperation between Branson and the Government is not always successful. In the first case, we will see how Branson succeeded in helping the British Government during a crisis time then, in the second case, we will see how both Richard Branson and the government failed after the launch of a common operation. [...]
[...] Student was a magazine that was more focused on students than on schools and it was also a political tool to express opinion about sensitive subjects of that time, such as abortion or the Viet-Nam war. According to the Austrian school of economists, Branson is a real entrepreneur, able to take advantage of new opportunities. When he noticed in the late 1960s that the record industry was a successful one, he became immediately interested in it. He realised ‘that people who would never dream of spending as much as 40 shillings on a meal wouldn't hesitate to spend 40 shillings buying the latest Bob Dylan album.' Furthermore, Branson was surprised that despite the government's abolition of the Retail Price Maintenance Agreement, none of the music shops was offering discounted records. [...]
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