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Buying Just Like The Ancient Greeks
What Ancient Greek Purchasing Can Teach Us About Procurement Now
A business book with a difference. The practical day to day commercial problems encountered 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece were not so far removed from the equivalent problems we face today.
What is purchasing?
What is a contract?
What types of procurement strategy can be adopted by modern client organisations?
Bob Soames sets out the basics by looking at 21 century procurement, and then explores how the ancient Greeks dealt with problems such as confidentiality, specifying projects, pulling together a project team, insurance, fraud and audit. These are all issues causing headaches today – the ancients had their own way of meeting these challenges. A beneficial leisure read! Bob Soames' business book is surely unique in its scope, content and dry wit.
TITLE: Buying Just Like The Ancient Greeks
AUTHOR: Bob Soames
PUBLISHER: Buy Research Publications
DATE PUBLCATION: 2011
REVIEWER: Peter Sammons
Was business – and especially purchasing – so different in the ancient Greek world that it is irrelevant today? Bob Soames argues not – he thinks we can even learn from ancient practices! For as long as there has been trade, there have been buyers and sellers. The growth of trade and associated political influence in the ancient world led to improvements in economic conditions. This in turn led to the development of increasingly sophisticated societies that celebrated their success through yet more trade, and through major building programmes. In ancient Greece these factors led to some becoming clients and others vendors for a whole range of goods and services.
The impressive surviving structures of ancient Greece were built by skilled craftsmen and labourers bound under contract in ways surprisingly similar to those we use nowadays. Evidence from building and other contracts shows that those who entered into contract in ancient Greece took account of supply risk, project overruns and cost implications, just as we do today. The Greeks planned, project - managed, insured, contracted-for, controlled and occasionally argued in court over major strategic procurement activities. Can we learn from them? How did the ancient Greeks meet their challenges? And how similar were the practical and commercial problems 2,500 years ago to those of today?
Bob Soames' book approaches these questions in a novel way, comparing today's practices with those used two and a half millennia ago. Knowing that different types of reader will be interested in this subject, Soames first looks at the modern profession of purchasing and uses the UK profession as a case study. He looks at 'outsourcing' and the different types of procurement transaction used today. After that Soames looks at procurement strategies and at contract management. He then goes on to compare these aspects of purchasing with Greek practice 2,500 years ago – and draws out surprising parallels.
This is a thorough book yet a light read, enlivened by Soames' dry sense of humour. Those involved in serious commerce are likely to enjoy this book, as will all those who have a sense of ancient history and an interest in how societies organised themselves. This is both a business book and a leisure reading option. As Soames suggests, anything that helps us to think from new angles about how we handle business helps us to become more professional in what we do.
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